Wimbledon 2014

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London, Rio De Janeiro and Nottingham: A Tale of Tests in Three Cities


Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Novak Đoković vs Roger Federer on 201...

English: Novak Đoković vs Roger Federer on 2010 Rogers Cup Semifinal game in Toronto, Rexall Centre 1:2 (1:6, 6:3, 5:7) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Roger Federer is still a champion.

Flying under the radar, the 17-time Grand Slam winner fought tooth and nail taking the championship match into the final set last Sunday.

Novak Djokovic may have clinched his seventh Slam. But no guesses for who walked away with the plaudits and the kudos.

Milos Raonic and Grigor Dimitrov are amongst heirs-in-waiting to the Big Four. But for now, they are just that.


Brazil’s shocking disintegration against Germany in the semi-final and the consequent shellacking had their fans in tears.

No consolation for them in the third place match either. Holland walked away with the honours—a meeting their coach Van Gaal derided as leaving one team feeling a loser despite having reached the semi-finals. His exact words:

“But the worst thing is, I believe, that chances are that you lose twice in a row. A tournament where you’ve played so marvellously well, that you go home as a loser just because you could possibly lose the last two matches. So, this has got nothing whatsoever to do with sports, not in my view.”

It’s Germany versus Argentina tonight in the final. Two former champions, two great gladiatorial sides.

Germany hold the edge on current form. But Argentina have Lionel Messi.

The Barca galactico was completely out of sorts in the quarters and the semis; the man-to-man marking rendering him ineffectual. Can he do a Maradona and take Argentina home?

Knock-out games are less about scoring and more about attrition. It’s about waiting and hoping that your opponent makes a mistake and then capitalising on it and drawing the shutters down.

That’s how Holland and Argentina played out their semi-final. It made for extremely boring viewing. Van Gaal repeated the mistakes of the 2010 final against Spain when Holland played hard and foul ruining any possibility of their moment in the sun. Hoping to win on penalties should be a strategy for relative minnows such as Costa Rica, not for the team that has dazzled the world with its brand of Total Football over the past four decades.


The first Test Match between India and England got underway this week at Trent Bridge.

The hosts presented the visitors an Indian wicket: flat and lifeless.

The match has already produced a record of sorts. The final wicket partnerships in the first innings produced two hundred-plus partnerships.

If Bhuvaneshwar Kumar and Mohammad Shami showed that the wicket held no devils, Joe Root and Jimmy Anderson rubbed in the curator Steven Birk’s face in it with their world record stand of 198—the highest ever in Test cricket.

Birks copped some criticism for the state of the wicket.

Birk said:

“We wanted to produce a pitch with pace, bounce and carry which hasn’t happened unfortunately. There’s quite a lot of moisture underneath but it’s a hard surface on top which is why it’s lacking pace. The moisture readings taken earlier in the week were quite high and we haven’t seen enough of the sun to really bake it out.”

Ian Botham’s take on the pitch:

“You might as well be playing in Chennai with this wicket.”

Jimmy Anderson had similar views:

“Two days out we could see the pitch was not going to have huge amount of pace in it. That is something you just got to try and put out of your mind. We are as frustrated as everyone else watching.”

Has the mandate to ensure matches last into the final day hastened the death of Test cricket? Indian fans stayed away—their ratio a paltry 10:90.

Draws occur in Tests all the time. It’s the nature of the result that makes all the difference to the enthusiasts.

Sharapova knows not her Tendulkar; Neymar’s back’s out


Football player Neymar

Football player Neymar (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sachin Tendulkar

Sachin Tendulkar (Photo credit: ali_pk)

Maria Sharapova

Maria Sharapova (Photo credit: D. Piris)

Its the 6th day in July; the semi-final line-up for the FIFA World Cup’s finalised and Petra Kvitova reigns supreme at Wimbledon once more.

In Brazil, it’s Brazil versus Germany and Holland versus Argentina.

Will it be an all South American final or an all European one?

Or is it to be a fifty-fifty split? Only the soccer gods know for sure.

Neymar’s horrendous ouster from the World Cup—kneed from behind by his Colombian opponent Juan Camilo Zúñiga—left a sour taste in the mouth.

Is this the end of Brazil’s World Cup?

Earlier in the week, Indian trolls had a field day hurling online invectives at Maria Sharapova for her insouciant response, “I don’t know who Tendulkar is.”

Does it really matter? Did Sharapova need to know who the demi-god of India cricket is to win her five slams?

For that matter, does Tendulkar need to be aware of tennis heroes and heroines to score on the cricket field?

Or do you and I need to know who the President of India is to do our jobs? Not unless your job needs you to know this trivia. But I digress.

Do you think Tendulkar cares that the ruling diva of women’s tennis does not recognise him or his name or his lauded achievements? He will probably breathe a sigh of relief that there’s one less bothersome fan in the world.

Is Sharapova to blame for her ignorance? Does it not have to do with the insular sports coverage of Western media specifically in Russia and the US? But why blame these states? How many Test-playing countries are there? Barely a handful.

Should Maria worry? Only if she’s seeking to package, market and sell Sugarpova in India, right?

Till next week. Adios, for now.

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