Kings and Queens of Grass

The break between the two Grandslams is over, and it is Wimbledon time now. You see the same on Star Sports from the evening onwards. As it started on the 29th, the one big event which happened on the first day is the exit of Lleyton Hewitt. He made his Wimbledon retreat with what would be his last defeat there, as it was the final appearance of him at the stage. He was twenty one years old when he last one a Grand Slam and when he won his only Wimbledon, and now he is thirty four, the age which Roger Federer will reach in a month and a week.

He exits after a big fight against Finland’s Jarkko Nieminen with the score of 3-6, 6-3, 4-6, 6-0, 11-9 giving one last marathon on grass. He was one of those very few names which I knew at a time when I was not that much of a follower of tennis, and we will miss him despite the man not making it to the final stages for quite some time. The rest of the draw remains open, and it won’t be easy to predict this time too with the finalists, but Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams remain the favourites. About the Women’s division, it is a Serena domination all the way with a lesser chance for Maria Sharapova, but Men’s side go deeper!

Novak Djokovic: The man in form, the world number one, and the defending champion – anyone will find it easy to bet on Djokovic. He is four thousand points clear for the World Number 2 Roger Federer and six thousand points away from the World Number 3 Andy Murray. He has got more than double the points compared to the rest of the tennis world lead by Stanislas Wawrinka who had beaten him in French Open. Well, the loss at Paris will only make the Djoker stronger, and this is also a surface on which he is better. He also defeated the King of Clay at his own surface and it is a big positive defeating both Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray and losing only to the man who defeated Roger Federer, that too after finishing a marathon five-setter on the previous day.

And there is always the Djoker looking for his opportunity.

There is always the Djoker looking for his opportunity to do even better.

Roger Federer: Even with Novak Djokovic doing nice with his time at the top and is sure to move to number five in the total number of weeks at the top as well as the total number of consecutive weeks as number one, Roger Federer is the one at the all-time top, and has no challenge to those records for quite a long time. He still remains the big name, and at Wimbledon where he was the last year’s finalist and having his favourite surface as grass, he is a powerful force too. He almost made it in the five-setter at the same place last year, and after winning Halle for the eighth time, the confidence level will be higher. If someone is to win Wimbledon when almost thirty four, it has to be him. He will still have to go through the winner of Murray-Nadal match and then face Djoker/Stan in the final.

Stanislas Wawrinka: The chances of this man increased considerably after the French Open victory, which was nothing less than unexpected. Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic were the favourites followed by Roger Federer and Andy Murray along with a few French men who were supposed to do good, but this man from Switzerland was never in most of those lists. But he has changed things around, and now, he is all prepared to get one step closer to that Career Slam because French Open was always the toughest title to win, and had the habit of eluding too many fine players. He is going to find this one a nice opportunity, and with that powerful backhand, may be he might overcome Djokovic again as the two collide in the semi-finals if things go as predicted.

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Wawrinka will be at the highest level of confidence after the French Open win.

Andy Murray: The crowd favourite goes into the tournament with another grass win as he went to French Open with those clay wins. This time, things are sure to be more difficult as he has to defeat Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic to win the title if things go as expected. Stanislas Wawrinka in the final will also be brutal with Stan never losing a Grand Slam final and being at top form. Having a Karlovic ace challenge at Wimbledon just before the quarter finals can tire him too. He needs to get back to being one of the Big Four, and he is surely trailing. He has had two Grand Slam titles, and has been runner-up six times, each and every time facing Roger Federer or Novak Djokovic. He needs to get back and become part of that Fantastic Four, and Wimbledon is his right opportunity despite the final parts of the draw.

Rafael Nadal: The King of Clay faces the same problem as his nemesis for the quarter finals, as he has Andy Murray, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic for the last three matches of the tournament, and Stanislas Wawrinka in the final will also be no smaller challenge. It is a free run for him until the quarters though, and it is the one thing which can boost his confidence despite going down to the two digits in ranking after a long time and can easily go further down with not many big titles in his pocket. He is not defending much from the last year, and so he should use this opportunity to get to a better rating so that he will have a better quarter finals for the next Grand Slam, and a Nadal without injuries does have a chance even in this tournament.

***The images used in this blog post are from the Official Facebook Pages of the tennis players.

TeNy

That Strange World Cup

Another Cricket World Cup comes to the fans, and the Indian team is going to Australia with that ridiculous and selfish motto “We won’t give it back!” as if it has been made┬áthe private property of BCCI after stealing it from someone else. This is the season of those fake patriots and new age nationalists who are going to temporarily love their country until this tournament is over. This is also the season of the abusers who are waiting to abuse the players from other countries and some of them might have even got a whole book of abuse ready for the process. Not having a look here┬ámeans no patriotism and so I will have a look at the chances here.

1. Australia: The bigger one among the hosts missed out on making a four out of four because the last World Cup was held in the sub continent. This competition at their place makes things so easy for them, as we have seen how well they did in the last tournament involving three teams in total. They have fine batting power, deadly bowling and the strength of some of the best all-rounders. When you look at the Australian team, you can say that this is an excellent group of players, something that you never expected when players like Gilchrist, Hayden and Ponting were gone. They might also be having a strong emotional side this time due to the comrade that they lost. Steven Smith will be the key, and even when he is not, there will be someone else on fire – if one man won’t score a century, another one will.

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2. India: With an amazing partnership from Dhoni and Srinivasan alienating most of the educated Indian cricket fans, the team still have so much firepower with the batting even as flat-track bullies in the team cannot be trusted. But the batting should click heavily at some point. By avoiding the services of Virender Sehwag and Yuvraj Singh, the experience factor disappeared and so did a lot of fans. Another big mistake was committed by not including Robin Uthappa and Varun Aaron. But still with BCCI controlling most the ICC and as most of the cricket fans are in India, some special treatment should be given to the Indian team or team BCCI. If you look at the points table, India can easily finish second in their group and Sri Lanka third in theirs, thus making sure that India won’t have to defeat a good non-Asian team till semi-finals – that is a relatively easy path.

3. South Africa: With the official chokers tag, they have somehow managed to loss all the matches which they should have won. With always having a nice team, they have never been to the final and it is a shame. But, things can change this time. AB de Villiers will be a big problem for the opposition and the key player along with Hashim Amla, as the rest of the teams will have to wait an eternity to have both of these players out of form. But it is also a batting line-up that can go deeper, and then there is Dale Steyn and team that can boast of being one of the best bowling line-ups of this World Cup. This might be their time – they should be ready. They can only be given the third best chance due to their history and reputation.

4. New Zealand: Here is another team which has played too many semi-finals, but the engine stops there. Well, even Kenya has been to the semi-finals of a World Cup. This time, they also come to the World Cup as co-hosts, and this is a situation which they should use to their best advantage. The neve-ending form of the young star Kane Williamson and the experienced Ross Taylor can bring fear into the minds of the opposition. Then, everyone also know what Brendon McCullum and Corey Anderson are capable of – total annihilation. With no shortage of the all-round skills and the bowling that can use the conditions well, the black caps should consider this their best chance ever.

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5. Sri Lanka: For Sri Lanka, the young captain and the nice finisher Angelo Mathews will be the key along with the experienced Sangakkara-Jayawardane-Dilshan combination and the Malinga power. The middle order might be depending too much on Sangakkara and Jayawardane, but they should deliver enough. When there is the need, Thisira Perera should fire too. People are surely going to under-estimate this team, and it is going to be their strengths. They have been finalists for too many occasions, and it is time that they clinch a World Cup. I hope they make use of the opportunity this time – they have been one of my favourite teams.

6. England and Pakistan: Along with England, I was going to put West Indies here, and then I looked at that team, suddenly shifting to Pakistan. They also have a slight chance here, and for that Shahid Afridi has to play a big role along with the talented youngsters. It surely has a better chance than a remotely possible Gayle Storm. England can do well at these conditions as they have proved, but nothing much can be said. About United Arab Emirates, Ireland, Afghanistan, Scotland, Zimbabwe and Bangladesh, I have no idea why they are playing other than to increase the total number of teams and to give runs to the major teams. But I hope these teams prove me wrong, especially Afghanistan, Zimbabwe and Ireland.

*The images used in this blog post are from the official Facebook Page of ICC Cricket World Cup 2015.

TeNy