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 the 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 means 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.

crck (2)

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

What are the Chances?

The Australian Open is fast approaching, and is almost here. On January 19th, the battle for another Grand Slam, the first one of the year and the most unpredictable one begins, and this is that kind of an year which has hopes for all the players in both Men’s and Women’s draw, if you ask me. Yes, the Big Four was broken twice last year with Marin Čilić and Stanislas Wawrinka tunneling their way to the first and the last slams, and in 2015, there is chance of the newer Grand Slam aspirants to bring the fight to Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray. Still, our favourites remain favourites.

1. Novak Djokovic: The world number one, once again has the best chance to win his favourite Grand Slam, and this place where he established himself as a worthy opponent to Federer and Nadal should have a lot more for him, considering that even when he seems a little down, he keeps coming back – this is still his peak time. He also have a simpler draw, with all the challenges on his way seemingly of causing lesser trouble for him. I don’t think that any of those names can challenge this man at his favourite part of the world – the Djoker is the favourite, no doubt. His only worry can be del Potro unleashing himself, but that is not much likely, and the Wawrinka, Nishikori or Ferrer challenge in the semi-finals might be the first big trouble.

And there is always the Djoker looking for his opportunity.

And there is always the Djoker looking for his opportunity.

2. Rafael Nadal: Looking at the draw, Nadal does have a better path than Federer, and I would say that it is an easier path for him compared to that of Federer, and therefore, even with his usual injury problems and continuous problems of fitness, should have the next best chance after Djokovic. Yes, there are tough names there on his path, but they are all beyond their best, and has very less chance of beating Nadal as far he can find some of former glory and stay fit. I would not judge him by his terrible performances in the first two tournaments this year, because he has had his amount of luck with Grand Slams. Well, he should be looking for something other than the French Open this time and Berdych, Youzhny and Gascquet shouldn’t be able to stop him.

3. Roger Federer: He can have the troubles like Monaco, and the big Nadal Slayer Kyrgios or the big serving Karlović on his path, with Murray in the quarter finals and Nadal in the semi finals, something which can mean long sets and fatigue for the most elderly of the four. Then the final should be against Djokovic, and this is something that should test him, as he goes through all three of the big four – not really good news for him in the very first slam of the year. The one thing that should work for him should be his form, which has been very good, and one of the best, as he went on to win his first title this year at Brisbane with ease. Fresh from the thousandth win of his career, there is no stopping him if he is at his best, and the question only remains if he will be at his best. Well, this is his resurrection – and sparks are going to fly.

As all good things begin and end with Roger Federer.

As all good things begin and end with Roger Federer.

4. Andy Murray: Even with his terrible form and the inability to win a Grand Slam for quite a long time now, Murray is still the fourth best player considering the achievements as well as the ability which he has proven until now – to keep him out of the list and considering him not a threat, would be a big mistake. Dimitrov should be his only big challenge on the path, something which he should overcome, considering the fact that there are signs of him coming back to his older self. Well, it is time he shows the rest of the Big Four that he means a lot more than just what he has won now, which seems to pale in comparison to the rest which seems to have made their own Big Three.

5. Stanislas Wawrinka: And then there is our defending champion who grabbed that title from Rafael Nadal who was all set to win the last year’s Australian Open. He has a nice route until meeting Nishikori or Ferrer in the Quarter Finals, and then coming up against the big Djokovic problem. I have always supported him to win a Grand Slam, and considering how nice a sportsperson he has been, I think it will be nice to see him winning another title here, the second one in a row. Well, del Potro can destroy all these calculations, but that is if he is back to that player that he has been. I might have my favourites and likes, but may the best man who plays well win.

Happy days have been returning for Caroline Wozniacki.

Happy days have been returning for Caroline Wozniacki.

In the Women’s draw, I am thinking that the one who wins the Caroline Wozniacki vs Serena Williams match, which should be one of the Quarter Finals, should go on to win the title unless it is too tiring to recover, and the winner of a possible Simona Halep vs Maria Sharapova Semi Final should win it – but with Eugenie Bouchard, Ana Ivanovic and the uncertainty of the Women’s side, I can’t make a big guess about it. But I would personally like to see Simona Halep, Agniezska Radwańska, Caroline Wozniacki or Eugenie Bouchard winning this one 🙂 [All images used in this blog post are from the Official Facebook Pages of the tennis players]

You can also choose to join the Genie Army :D

You can also choose to join the Genie Army 😀

TeNy

When Nobody Knows

I am pretty sure that a lot of people have prayed a lot for the Indian cricket team to win the World Cup. But among the things I have wanted the most was for India to win the Davis Cup – yes, Indian football team qualifying for the FIFA World Cup was a necessity, but I had always hoped for a tennis achievement more. This love for tennis had kept me trying to play tennis shots in badminton even as that reinforced the fact that I will never play tennis in my life.

That brings back to the topic – who would I want to win the Davis Cup as it was kind of impossible for India considering the absence of a big tennis player in the ATP division. There might be just one win in the doubles, which would have been quite easy at a time when Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi were at full flow. But then, there is the other option, to watch Switzerland win the Davis Cup, something which happened yesterday at the same time as the ISL match between Mumbai City FC and Chennaiyin FC was going on.

Federer and Wawrinka - redefining Swiss tennis (pic from ATP site)

Federer and Wawrinka – redefining Swiss tennis (pic from ATP site)

I switched on the television and checked some of the so called big news channels starting with Indiavision. I waited till the sports news and kept staring at it, but it seemed that nobody knew there was such a tournament. For a tournament that happened at night, they don’t feel the need to show the news about it in the morning. It made me wonder where our journalism was heading. This is exactly why tennis doesn’t have that much of an impact in India.

Fed-rinka in action in France (pic from Reuters)

Fed-rinka in action in France (pic from Reuters)

Czech Republic did win the Fed Cup earlier defeating Germany in the final, but it is clear nobody cared about it. I would say that most of the people don’t know that there is a woman’s equivalent of the Davis Cup. The media might also need some classes about the same, as they keep searching for cricket even in the ISL. The final didn’t end up being the close contest that I had expected it to, but I am an admirer of Lucie Safarova and is glad to see her team win, as I feel that she has under-achieved. I am surprised that Sabine Lisicki didn’t play a singles match though.

The Swiss Davis Cup team (pic from daviscup.com)

The Swiss Davis Cup team (pic from daviscup.com)

The total number of quality female players in Germany was surely high, but the two players, Lucie Safarova and Petra Kvitova ended up being too good. These two were far ahead of the rest of the players from Czech Republic as out of the top twenty rankings, the next available players was under rank 150 while Germany had a better team in totality. The same is the case of Switzerland and France in the Davis Cup. Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrnika being way ahead of the others who are ranked below 200, and their opponents having all their five players in the top thirty.

The Swiss players with the Davis Cup trophy (pic from ndtv)

The Swiss players with the Davis Cup trophy (pic from ndtv)

This is a great win for Switzerland, and a wonderful addition to the list of great achievement of Roger Federer who had been fighting a lone battle for a long time before Wawrinka came into the picture – what an year for him too, beginning it with the Australian Open title and ending it with the Davis Cup trophy. The way in which they have managed to get rid of the rift between the two and come together to play for their nation, and how Federer managed to be fit for his country – all these are worth the appreciation.

But do our media know any of this? I have always considered Davis Cup with a great level of esteem. It is more equivalent to the World Cup than anything else, and it is the duty of the media to broadcast it and provide enough information about the same. The same is the case of Fed Cup which is more like a mystery around here. I wouldn’t be surprised though, considering the cold way in which they report Wimbledon. I hope that the senior Malayalam news channels and newspapers take tennis more seriously (a corner in the sports page is not enough for big tournaments), and it can only help the growth of tennis here.

TeNy

Return of the Emperor

Roger Federer still remains the one big reason why I watch tennis, and even at this age, what he is still managing to achieve remains pretty much awesome – despite the blind fans of many other tennis stars still not willing to see the same and those who don’t know tennis failing to look at it doesn’t make it any lesser. With the most grandslams in men’s tennis and the most number of weeks as the world number as well as the most consecutive weeks holding the same, plus so many other records, Federer has got not much to prove.

Yes, this is another one of those years in which he hasn’t won a grand slam, and has reached only one final of the same, that too of his favourite slam. He was without slams in 2011 and 2013 too and compared to last year, this one is a big improvement. He was number six last year, the lowest for him in ten years, and also with the lowest win percent and having no grand slam finals – the worst year since his rise to the top.

Federer with the ballboys and girls after winning the trophy :)

Federer with the ballboys and girls after winning the trophy 🙂

Consider this year though, as he is back to the world number two, gaining four spots from last year. He also has the best win percent since 2007, and could throw the miserable 2013 behind him. With only Novak Djokovic in front of him, he has also beaten the current world number one multiple times. With Rafael Nadal struggling to find form and time without injury, it is brilliant how Federer can manage it at this age.

Imagine Federer at one of our malls in front of his photo :D

Imagine Federer at one of our malls in front of his photo 😀

This year, he won Dubai Tennis Championships beating Tomas Berdych in the final, and followed it with the titles Halle Open, Cincinnati Masters, Shanghai Masters and Swiss Indoors, plus almost winning Wimbledon in a comeback which was almost not there for him. He was also close to winning Monte-Carlo Masters and Indian Wells Masters. Time to retire? I wouldn’t think so, and neither should anyone else. See how he is still evolving his game and adapting – there is more to see from him.

The Roger Federer Foundation - beautiful stuff :)

The Roger Federer Foundation – beautiful stuff 🙂

The ATP World Tour Finals is yet to come with four hundred points to defend for Federer, and an year end number one is quite far away with Djokovic in nice form. But being the world number two itself is an achievement. Whether some miracle strikes and makes him the year end number one again or not, this year has been big for Roger Federer, and it is not based on slams or the number of finals he has won, it is based on how well he has played among his younger opponents.

Players with Wilson racquets - theres Simona too :D

Players with Wilson racquets – theres Simona too 😀

There is also the Davis Cup World Group Final coming up, with France vs Switzerland as Federer’s home country look forward to their first title, and France looking for another title to add to their long list. As Federer teams up with Stanislas Wawrinka (finally a worthy partner from home) to who he had lost his Swiss number one spot which he has now regained, it is certain that there will be a lot to cheer for as far as the fans are concerned – this is going to be good.

Meanwhile, IPTL (Indian Premier Tennis League) is coming up, and Roger Federer is coming to India. He will play for Indian Aces teaming up with Pete Sampras, Ana Ivanovic, Gael Mofils, Sania Mirza, Rohan Bopanna and Fabrice Santoro, and sparks are going to fly for sure. It is known that the tickets for Federer’s matches in Delhi were sold in twenty minutes, and that is the beauty of having the maestro here, and that was despite the ticket prices being so high. Federer is not done yet, know that! *All the photos are from Roger Federer’s official Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/Federer).

TeNy