Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Chennai Open - India's premier ATP tournament

Pankaj and I had made plans to watch Chennai Open around 3 months ago. We asked some of our friends, they agreed. We arranged for the tickets and booked the hotel for 2 nights, as we planned to watch only semi-finals and finals. So, after a lot of changes to the plan, we finally decided that we three, I, Makhi and Pankaj, will be going by Makhi's beloved Santro.
Finally, Saturday the 5th came. We had planned to get up at 6 am in the morning and leave Bangalore by 7 and Makhi was going to wake us. But, Makhi felt his blanket too cozy to wake up and eventually we left Bangalore at 9:00. We took golden quadrilateral route and hit outskirts of Chennai at aound 2:30. After 2 hours of frustrating drive we reached to the SDAT (The place where Chennai Open is held).
As, the matches were starting at 5:00, we thought of viewing the whole academy. We went to the practice courts and saw Ratiwatana brothers practicing. And right in front of the practice courts was the entrance for the players and VIPs. We saw a lot of fans there waiting for the players to get the autographs. Mario Cilic came and girls ran after him. A cameraman and interviewer came from 9X tv and they asked for our views on the Australian Open. Suddenly a car arrived and as we were in the process of figuring out which player is this, either Rafael Nadal or is he Mikhail Youzhny, our hopes were dashed as he was none other than Charu Sharma in pink tie and pink shirt. People ran for taking his autograph and he even refused to some people. What a shame to be refused for an autograph from Charu Sharma.
Clocks were hitting 5, so we left for our seats. The stadium was full of fans, all were shouting the names of their favorite players. We took some refreshments and waited for the match to begin. Youzhny and Cilic came and they both played well. But, Youzhny won the match easily. Now, we were waiting for the match of the day Moya vs Nadal.
The spaniards arrived. We had a feeling that Nadal will overpower one of his mentors. Finally the match begun.
First set was full of great baseline rallies, great serving from Moya and competitiveness from Nadal. There were no breaks of serves, so the set went into tie-break. There were lots of incorrect calling from the linesmen. As a result of this and Great play by Moya, he won the first set.
The girl sitting in the row in front of us, a huge Nadal fan, was frightened at the loss of the first set. She turned and begged Pankaj, "You are a Nadal fan. Please cheer for him." To this Pankaj replied, "I am a tennis fan. :D" The girl was shocked. I burst into laughter when i saw her face. I consoled her not to worry that Nadal will win.
The second set started and it was more of the same as the first. But, Nadal broke Moya in the starting but eventually got broken towards the end of the set. The second set as the first went into the tie-break. In the initial points the referee made a blunder and awarded Moya a point even when the ball was clearly out. Nadal was frustated and handed Moya a 4-0 lead. Then we saw who is Rafael Nadal, hitting unbelievable shots, not even reaching to the shots which would have been winners by a huge margin, but hitting winners. The whole crows was thrilled at the competitiveness of the players. Moya was playing as better as I have seen him play. And little god, as Pankaj calls Nadal, was in supreme form. The way he saved the match point and went on to win the tie-break can not be described. Our eyes were wide open at watching the level of play and shots that we had seen only on the television.
Every person in the stadium was thrilled and we were obliged to watch such a match live from our naked eyes. Third set was also the same good stuff. We thought that now the force is with Nadal and he will win the third set very easily, but Moya showed his grit, served well and hit some unbelievable winners to break Nadal early. Finally he reached to the match point. Every one thought now is the time for the match to end, but Nadal had other ideas. He broke Moya with a ripping back hand. This set as the other two also went into the tie-break. This match was going on for 3hrs and 45 mins. Finally, Moya showed signs of aging and tiredness and after an applaud able performance he lost the tie-break giving Nadal the win (6-7, 7-6, 7-6) in 3 hrs and 54 mins.
The whole crowd were singing and shouting the praises for both the players as they showed a lot of grit, a lot of great shots, a lot of enthusiasm and sportsmanship. Moya said that this was the best match he ever played and Nadal shared the same views. And we also agreed to these players.
After witnessing such a great match we took the dinner and went to sleep, hoping to see the same in the final.
We had a lunch buffet in little italy, it was too good. After some rest we went to the stadium. As we arrived earlier today also, we went to the practice courts in the hope of seeing a player. But, no one was there. When we lost all hope and we were going to our seats we saw Nadal coming, looking as fit as ever and a smile on his face. We took some refreshments and took our seats.
We hoped that this match will as entertaining as the earlier one. The stadium was full and all the people singing and shouting. Finally the players arrived.
The match begun. Youzhny was looking very fresh but Nadal was looking worn out after the last night's match. So, he lost this match very dreadfully.
So, after the disappointing match, we thought of driving back to Bangalore the same day. Makhi agreed after a lot of arguments and we left for Bangalore at around 8:30 in the night. Makhi was driving very fast (>110 kmph). Well this is not fast enough but yes for Makhi this is very fast. May be this was because we were listening to Himesh ;). He drove safely and we reached our homes at around 2 in the morning. We went to sleep and woke up late on Monday.
Well, I remember this trip as one of my favorite trips. We had a pleasureful drive, watched highest quality tennis, ate pretty good food and enjoyed a lot. And at last, but not the least listened to Himesh. I hope such great tennis tournaments are held in India more often and we get a chance to watch world class players like Nadal, Youzhny, Moya, etc. We also hope maybe some day we watch the final between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

The story of a phenomenon

Today was the dream final for any tennis enthusiast. Yes, today was the final for the most coveted trophy in men's tennis, the Wimbledon. The participants were the great Roger Federer, world no. 1, defending champion and 4 times champion, and world No. 2 Rafael Nadal.
This was the world no. 2's least preferred surface. He survived couple of 5-setters, one of those was with his toughest competitors, Mikhail Youzhny. In this game, Rafa, came from 2 sets behind and defeated Youzhny. My friend was willing to bet on this match. He believed Youzhny will easily win the match. Our group exchanged loads and loads of mails on this. But on the match day when Youzhny was leading 2 sets to 0, his belief almost became true. Even a colleague (He is a Federer fan) in my office came to me and asked me to see the scores. I asked him dude lets meet after the 5th set. And the rest you all know, Rafa demolished his opponent in the last 3 sets hitting winners and winners and winners.
One day ago, he had completed the longest match in the tennis history, this match took 5 days due to the rains. His opponent tried everything, even tried to imitate Rafa to disrupt his game. But, Rafa stood true to his name, the bull fighter from Spain.
Rafa played some of his best tennis throughout this whole tournament. And his opponent, guess he was having a holiday, 1 match got cancelled and others got postponed due to rain. And everyone was favoring everyone. And as obvious, on our group we exchanged a lot of mails. Everyone believed Federer will easily win in 3 sets with one bagel set. But Rafa had other ideas.
So, finally the day arrived. The great Byon Borg was there to witness the match. The court was full of tennis enthusiasts, even when the British Grand Prix was there and the local rookie, Lewis Hamilton took the pole position. I even heard that the ticket prices were around 5000 pounds for a pair.
Finally the match began. Roger won the toss and chose to serve. After some little bit of warming up, Roger began to serve. Roger won the first game easily. Scores read 1-0. Rafa, under enormous pressure could not save his serve and got broken. Federer won the next game comfortably. Scores read 3-0. Everyone sensed this was another Federer day. Following game Rafa came to serve and hold his serve. Then in the next game he broke Federer's serve. And in the next game he hold his serve. Scores read 3-3. All was even. The surface was favoring Federer, but Rafa showed all his variety of shots, pass through volleys. First set went into the tie break. Federer eventually won the tie break and the first set.
Next set belonged to Nadal, his great forehand, his ripping backhand. Federer was helpless. Rafa won this set 6-4. Third set was the same story. Nadal was the one ruling the court. Federer only survived due to the number of aces. This set also went to tie breaks which Federer eventually won.
Scores read 7-6, 4-6, 7-6. Started fourth set, and Rafa showed his class, showed why he is being the considered the heir to the world No. 1's thrown. He broke Federer twice and the score read 4-1. And the inveitable happened, Rafa landed badly on his right foot and he got injured his knee. Even in pain and loss of movement, he won the fourth set 6-2.
But that was enough, the pain was growing and his mobility reducing. The most mobile player in the game got stuck to the baseline. Even then hitting winners and great passing shots. But, eventually he got broken. He was committing lots of errors. And Federer won 6-2. Federer won his straight 5th wimbledon title. But, he was the second fiddle to the great champion and the future of Men's tennis, Rafael Nadal.
Rafael Nadal deserved to win the title, not the Roger Federer. One of my friends and a very big Roger Federer fan commented, "Rafa can play so much better than Federer, and today he is showing that. In my eyes Rafa is the champion." I share the same views with my friend.
It was disappointing to see Rafa limping in the final set, but he never gave up. He is mentally so strong and his game is marvelous. His forehand, his ripping backhand, his movement, his passing shots, his returns. But, I felt proud of being a fan of such a great tennis great. Hats off to the phenomenon, Rafael Nadal.

To finish this, in Spanish. Vamos Nadal.

Monday, May 21, 2007

81 out

This is not the highest score by an Indian batsmen against Bangladesh :D, this is the number of consecutive wins on clay by a tennis player. Guess who he is. Obviously the one and only Rafael Nadal. And the streak ended at 81 because he was carrying an injury, and of course the player who he was playing was the great Roger Federer. Can you guess the age of Rafa? Its 20!!
Isn't it amazing, that a guy who is just 20 already has his name in the record books of Tennis. Do you know, the second highest consecutive wins on clay is by Guillermo Vilas and its a mere 53. Nadal's streak is the highest on any surface. The second highest is by the great John McEnroe's 75-match streak on indoor carpet. Nadal is currently the No. 2 ranked player in the world, and he has broken the record in this department also. He has been ranked No. 2 for more consecutive weeks than any player in the history of the computer rankings maintained by the ATP.
In today's world where the competition has reached to an unbelievable level, there is a 20 year old who is breaking all the records even in the presence of Roger Federer, whom many guys believe to be the all time greatest player on the earth. I hope this guy plays for atleast 15 more years which is very much feasible by looking at him. He does not resemble an orthodox tennis player, he has biceps like of a body builder. He runs like a sprinter. He wears sleevless t-shirts and a 3/4 pant. Yes he is a tennis player.
He is the undisputed king of clay. He does well on other surfaces also but clay suits him the most. He is not one of the game's biggest servers. Nor he has great back hand. But, his fore hand is too deadly, with a lot of pace and spin. No one can hit passing shots like him. He can change defense to attack at any shot. And if you tried a drop shot against this guy, then its a bonus for him. He will easily reach there and hit the winner. Agassi said in an interview after his match against Nadal at Wimbledon, "You can not volley against him. He is too fast.".
I hope this guy breaks as many records as possible. Vamos Nadal.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Lord Of Cricket

"Pakistan clueless to Dhoni method" -- this is the headline of cricbuzz.com when India won the 3rd ODI @ Lahore defeating Pakistan by 5 wickets. Everyone is praising Dhoni.. Seriously what a knock. He took away the game from Pakistan, 72 runs in a mere 46 deliveries with 13 fours. Even General Musharraf commented on Dhoni's hairstyle. And he got the man of the match award too.
But, I think that the Lord of Cricket, Sachin Tendulkar, was the man behind the india's win. He along with Dravid played those overs when the ball was swinging too much and india was under pressure. Even though they played slowly but they played very safely ensuring that Pakistan couldn't do more damage to India. Even some of the experts rate Sachin's innings as the best they have ever seen.
I personaly lost faith in Sachin recently but after this innings I won't dare to do this again. Long live and play the little master.
A salute to the Lord of Cricket.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Dilbert Strip..

Business Idea

Yesterday, we were having a discussion on possible ways of making money. Someone suggested to invest money in stocks, etc. Today one of my friends came and screamed that she had struck with a very nice business idea and she wants to open a company. I asked her what is the idea. She told that the client of her company just has to tell her that he wants to invest some amount of money in stocks. She will invest her money. She will bear the losses if any and will share the profit with him. Wow!! among all others this is the best ways of making money (Obviously i am talking of the client ;).