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WANTED! September 1, 2006

Posted by Abhishek in Abhishek, Tennis.
4 comments

A partner to accompany me from love to game-set-match.

Age no bar. Sex no bar(though female preferred). Should be from a good family with a pure sports background. Should not be married to other tennis stars and major requirement is a deep desire to watch Martina Hingis in action. A flexible attitude towards Sania Mirza is also appreciated.

So anyone mad enough to come with me to the Sunfeast Open from the 18th to the 24th of September to Kolkata, please contact me asap at: cheerfulguy AT gmail.

Thank you. And see you at the reception. Its going to be raucous.

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Wanted: A Duellist August 6, 2006

Posted by ramanand in Ramanand, Tennis.
13 comments

In the days before Indian cricket team selectors could toss aside last year’s medium-pacers like they would banana peel, the constant refrain used to be: “Can’t a nation of close to a billion produce at least one medium/fast bowler?”. The crop of Munaf and VRV may have pushed the focus to different problems, but we can borrow the lament and apply it thus: “Can’t a globe that has tens of thousands of tennis players produce a player who can challenge Roger Federer?”

Almost everyone I know who follows tennis stopped back and stayed by a television screen because two players were engaged in elegant battle; not just in a single tournament, but over many seasons. Tennis has never needed any better advertisement (especially before smartly attired young Russians whose names ended in “-ova” started to appear on billboards). For my generation, the recent legends of Borg and McEnroe were replayed in the battles of Lendl-Becker, Becker-Edberg and then ultimately Sampras-Agassi. Since these also featured a stellar support cast of Connors, Wilander, Ivanisevic, Rafter, and Courier, tennis was not a collection of ‘breadsticks’ and ‘doughnuts’ as it threatened to be in the last couple of years of “The Rogera”.

Roger Federer, out of nowhere, has installed himself (and with poise) as the definitive player of his eneration – a fact that no one even wants to start disputing. Such unanimity amongst both watchers and critics is as rare as Federer getting beaten on grass. So much so, that despite our affection for the Swiss, we will grasp at any straws, even if they come from a clay-filled, grass-less surface.

Rafael Nadal has provided it to us in the last 14 months. The attachment of the suffix “-ever” to some glorious epithets before Federer’s name awaits victory at Roland Garros, preferably with Nadal to greet him from the other end. But with Nadal’s astonishing ascent to the finals of Wimbledon (which even the kindest of critics will point to his easy draw, earned by his ranking from the clay-court spoils), we are in danger of getting too excited about this “rivalry”.

Perhaps the US Open will give us a good idea as to where Nadal stands. Those hands that rubbed in glee anticipating a long run of Roddick-Federer clashes have been thrust deep into pockets. Does Nadal really promise to be the only spell, mental or physical, against a man who would probably have been burnt for being a warlock in less englightened times? This time we’ll wait and watch.

Update:

Rajk points me to this unbelievable Federer moment. You may not believe it even after you see it. Andy Roddick didn’t seem to.

Advantage Paes-Mirza? July 2, 2006

Posted by Arnold in Arnold, Tennis.
1 comment so far

How many of you’ll think that Leander Paes (or maybe Mahesh Bhutpathi) and Sania Mirza should pair up in the Mixed Doubles?

And how many of you’ll think they will?

Roland Garros 2006 thus far June 6, 2006

Posted by ramanand in Ramanand, Tennis.
5 comments

So far, the French Open this year has been your average engrossing Grand Slam right from the injury-affected draw, the slogfests that seem to take as long as making a claymation film, the orange of the courts and the blue-black of the skies. But it remains with a hint of the magic to come, which we will also return to in a while in this post. Before that, a look at the support cast.

The Women's draw this time was affected by injuries to some of the former No. 1s, but it is a sign of the current depth in the women's game that despite that and the knocking out of the current top player and the holder of the first Grand Slam of the year, we still have 4 former #1s in Hingis, Clijsters, Henin-Hardenne and Venus Williams to slug it out with the remaining Russians (who continue to flood the draw) and some new faces. Hingis has been patchy but on a high after winning Rome while Henin-Hardenne has had the least trouble on the pathway to her title defence.

The best match that I have seen in this year's Open was the Russian cat-fight between Maria Sharapova and Dinara Safina. Safina, who has had an excellent run leading into Paris, matched the beauty-ova in her relentless efforts of dishing out muscular winners, which meant a match pockmarked with errors and studded with winners from improbable angles. Nerves ultimately had the say in trading of sets, but the spectacular comeback from Safina in this battle that clearly had a semi-visible edge to it made it the match of the tournament so far.

The men's draw soon saw the 5-setters that in another day and city would be considered noteworthy, but in Paris are merely par for the course. What keeps the additional interest alive is that Nadal and Federer are as on date still heading for that salivating clash. For a long while now, the only matter of intrigue in Federer's career has been that missing bullet point of a French title in the resumé. And for not making it a foregone conclusion, we have to thank the other modern-day record setter. Rafael Nadal's astonishing run of clay-court wins has included a couple of run-ins from Federer which were very tight affairs. So it will be no surprise to anybody that if the 11th of June does not see Raf and Fed warming up, there will be a bunch of very disappointed tennis-watchers.

Both champions have had fairly easy runs to the quarters, though Nadal has had to demonstrate more of his weapons than Federer. The Swiss fortuitously faced two lucky losers in his 1st two matches, of which, the fact that the second was a left-hander sent the commentators into raptures and treat this as a chance for Federer to work out his southpaw strategy. Though the broadcasters have been careful not to jump the gun, the undertones give it all away, for it's been a while since a tantalising matchup of this quality presented itself. Unfortunately, Nadal's overwhelming claycourt game makes it difficult for him to translate his successes to other surfaces at the moment, so the scary question is: if Federer wins, what will we do for the next couple of years?

As a closing note, what are the odds on a Swiss double this year? Difficult, but not improbable.