28 September 2006

Make it count.

4-6 6-0 6-4. Sania wont be forgetting that scoreline for a long time to come. Atleast not until she eclipses it with an even dramatic upset. I wait for the time when these scorelines wont be called "upsets" anymore. In a dramatic fight back of sorts, Sania avenged her Sunfeast open debacle and proceeded to the Quarters of the Korean Open. A humbled Hingis couldnt help but confess, "Her forehand is really amazing". In an earlier blog (see Even-Steven Friday), I had deemed this as a possibility if Sania kept her head about her and she did just that. In a post match conference she said, "I enjoy the pressure". This is a huge asset in todays throat slitting competition. John F. Murray in his Sports Psychology piece on tennis.com says, "Increase your competitiveness by learning to love the struggle more. Get comfortable with the worst possible situation and the rest is a breeze". Sania's statement seemed to mirror just that.

Now is the time to capitalize and not rest or gloat. Rewind to 1983 WorldCup Quarter finals; Kapil's blitzkreig 175* against Zimbabwe would not be as memorable if we hadnt gone on to build on that confidence and lift the cup. They Made it Count. Sania has to utilize this renewed confidence as a potent energy source and floor the pedal to go all the way. The Kuznetsova upset at Dubai was lost in the aftermath of some ordinary tennis, but she should not let that recurr. Nothing short of a victory in the finals will do justice to this result. A few years from now this match could be called one of two things: A spike in a fickle graph or the revival of a star. I'm pitching for the latter. I'm pitching that she'll make it count.

26 September 2006

Why I despise Katarina Srebotnik

US Open 2006,Mixed doubles 1st round, Sania Mirza/Vizner vs Srebotnik/Zimonjic: Sania/Vizner lost 2-6 6-3 and 7-10 in the tie-break. This match was being played on one of the outer courts and I and a few dozen Indian fans were watching it from the sidelines. We evened the match by clinching the second set and sent it into a deciding 10 point tie-break. Sometime around 5-7 in the tie break, Sania let loose one of her blistering groundstrokes and hit Srebotnik bang in the ribs. This was a very important point and some fans cheered in joy. This cheer evidently, more out of winning the point than out of the insulting agony Srebotnik was experiencing, triggered Srebotnik to arrogantly respond to the crown screaming, "Fuck you, Whats wrong with you guys? I got hit and you are cheering?". The crowd was stunned into silence. I didnt hear the call of "shut up" from the crowd but Zimonjic did and the towering personality that he is, stormed towards us and demanded to know who said "Shut up". This was again met with silence. Next Ms Srebotnik, waving her hands at Sania, demanded to know what this behavior was all about. A very fazed Ms Mirza retorted saying, "I dont even know them". The game went on with Srebotnik/Zimonjic winning 10-7 in the tie break.

Clearly though, Srebotnik's character was the biggest loser on court. A sportsperson of that caliber is expected to not only withstand the pressures of the game but also some unruly crowd behavior. When no-name B.Becker ended Agassi's career in Arthur Ashe even his double faults were cheered. To his credit he had the character and focus to take it in his stride. No one enjoyed Srebotnik being hit, but fans did enjoy the fact that the crowd favorite had won the point. Wonder if she would have done the same if it was Andy Roddick who had hit her and the fans in Arthur Ashe Stadium had instinctively celebrated.

It was very human to react in anger at the fans and though still offensive its pardonable, however whats inexcusable is her actions towards another player, Sania, who if anything was apologetic of the groundstroke that Srebotnik was obviously unable to handle. Apparently the Chair umpire didnt consider it an offense of any kind and this issue fizzled out on that outside court at flushing meadows. But it left an indelible blemish on me and some other fans who were enjoying the game.

Ms Srebotnik,
Watching the game alongside those fans were children and some elderly fans to whom you set a bad example. Thank you for showing us the difference between a sportperson and a mere player.
definately not your fan,
Approach Shot.

25 September 2006

Sania's coach and Roddicks heart.

Sania fell in the semi final to a rampaging Martina Hingis with a surprisingly tame score line (6-1 6-0). I have read in many places though that the match was a lot tougher than what the scoreline suggests. However, before I could get to my text editor to blog a scathing account of another failure, Ms Mirza partially redeemed herself by winning the womens doubles with Liezel Huber. That and her victory over higher ranked Rezai did the balm job. I have seen Liezel and Sania play together from court side and I liked what I saw. Huber is a big girl and amazingly adept at the net. That complements Sania's big groundstrokes from the baseline to form a formidable duo. I get the feeling that if they kick their levels up a notch(train harder, get a good coach) we might just see some good results in the future.

That brings me to the ever evolving topic of Sania's Coach. We had Farrington, then Tony Roche did a number on her serve, Narendranath was at the US Open...kinda like musical chairs for tennis pros. A decision regarding the same is said to be out anytime and we hope its a good one. She has devoted her entire lifetime in the pursuit of a tennis career; now she wouldnt want the lack of a good pro to limit the heights she can scale. Brad Gilbert gave Andy Murray's game a facelift and Connors evidently is working wonders for Mr Roddick...the right coach might just do the trick for this 19 year old talent.

One last thing: Roddicks brilliant fight back from 2 sets down in the Davis cup tie up(albeit to lose with scores of 6-3, 6-4, 5-7, 3-6, 17-15)with Tursonov makes me wish our cricketers showed some of that fire in their hearts. It doesnt matter if you go down...but make sure your opponent is more relieved than happy, when its over.

Bad Bounce

This has nothing to do with sports and hence the title, 'bad bounce'. I need a place to save the below email and my blog spot is the perfect guinea pig.

You see, this is an email I wrote to my "then Girl Friend, now wife", at lunch time when I was an Intern with Viewlocity Inc during my Grad School days. This is what you get when you cross hunger pangs with a text editor. I remember that eating out was quite a luxury then and I was never known for my enthusiasm in the kitchen. This would inevitably lead to a prolonged period of self imposed starvation until something gave. Posting it in memory of those good old days of trials and tribulations:

I am in that painful predicament again....am soooo hungry....but too fed up of burgers to resort to them to pacify my hunger....just dont want to eat burgers...anything else wud be too expensive...at work i have nuthing to eat....at home i wud be too tired/lazy to cook ...anyway there wudnt be much choice other than biryani or egg burjee or noodles...all of which i am fed up of as well....everytime i get hungry i am faced with the eternal problem of striking a balance between good food and money...normally i am the spenthrift who convinces himself into spending...coz thats wat money is for ( i wud say to myself)..but today presents an even more gut-achingly interesting dilema..i have recently realized that my pocket size is delusional....apparantly it is smaller than it appears...hence the balance today has dominantly shifted towards the "pocket ur money and starve" side...this writing to you and explaining is a bleak and maybe even satirically humourous attempt to possibly drift my attention from the real issue at hand ( my rumbling belly)...Interestingly i have been confronted with this pestering quandry so many times that i know pretty well how it ends...but I seem to fall victim to it everytime anyway.....FYI...i will either suffer silently or grumble and suffer for as long as i can until sumone else suffering from the same predicament comes along and we find solace in company (sumtimes even a solution)..other times the stomach wins the battle over the wallet and we end up doing the inevitable..i.e. spending....but as of now....there is no solution... i have to suffer...until i am driven to break the rules of my "self proclaimed adversity" or muster enough enthusiasm to cook for myself......i know this saga shall return to haunt me tommorow and day after again.....and probably haunts most of my friends who are in the same boat as I...but i doubt if anyone has a real solution to it.....So here's hoping this cry for help (more of a yelp in pain) relieves me of this groaning i hear inside of me...

lovingly and grumblingly yours,
A very hungry Vinay

After thought: No wonder I weighed 130 lbs.

22 September 2006

Heroes or Traitors!

I cringe when I think Bhupathi's GloboSport endeavor might have cost him and India a couple of Grand-Slams. There is no questioning his dedication to Tennis in India, but I cant help feeling that Globosport took its share of time/attention and thereby had a say in the latter part of his career. Billie-Jean-King did tons for Women's tennis too, but after retirement. I guess the question is, Would you trade a potential Million$ company for another shot at a Grand-Slam? Its easy to argue its my life/my decision, but its also your duty to win laurels for your country when you can.

Lets widen the picture a little and include our famed cricketers too. It can be argued that an "after-career" life to secure, justifies these avocations. My stand is... as long as you can draw a line between your primary and parallel interests and not cross it, you are fine. But if thats true or not for our sportsmen, only their conscience can answer.

Reminds me of Ben Parker's famous line from Spider-Man, "With great power comes great responsibility"...Hmm...I hope our heroes aren't betraying us.

Even-Steven Friday

Flipside:India lost yet another do-or-die encounter to Australia...quelling all hopes that may have dared to expect the impossible. A million crossed fingers and prayers later we are back to where we always were. Rising in a promising crescendo only to somehow mirculously fall inches short of the destination. Still hopes remain and attention now readjusts and refocuses itself to the Champions Trophy. My cricket-cronies tell me India is only a tiger at home...well in that case I hope we atleast leave a dent on the Champions trophy and maybe even get some sweet revenge. There....my fingers are crossed again!

Upside: Sania gave a sound performance and ousted higher ranked Rezai(#66) to set up the dream semi final with Hingis. This is a nothing to lose match up for Ms. Mirza and one can only hope she makes it count. Hingis is a thinking player and Sania doesnt have to worry about being out-slugged, she has to keep her head about her and simply not make her generous share of unforced errors and we will have a match on our hands. Only a few years ago the idea of a former world #1 playing an Indian player in an Indian tournament would have been scoffed at; and now we have Sania v/s Hingis in the Kolkotta Open.....sign of bigger things to come for India, maybe? Go Sania!!!

Signing of with nice read by Wertheim: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2006/writers/jon_wertheim

21 September 2006

Two heroes and 1 wannabe

Just showing off.....thats yours truly with Leander Paes and Neha Uberoi at the Legg Mason Tennis Classic Tournament, Washington DC. I was a ball-person at the event and got a closer look at the players on the court. Best seats in the house I say.

CBS's US Open coverage.

If you watched the CBS Sports coverage of the US Open final between Roddick and Federer you will know that not only was Federer facing 23000 fans in Arthur Ashe he was also up against some of the supposedly high-profile commentators of CBS. Now, in my humble opinion, commentators are the ears of the game who relay their IMPARTIAL comments on the happenings and if possible some insights too. The only insight I got from them was that Roddick was finding his mojo in the second and most of the third set. Repeated occurances of words like "Roddick's confidence", "improved body language" and of course Jimmy Connors' countenance after every point on the screen made me squeal in angst for the other player on the court. Naturally my joy knew no bounds when Federer, in truly championesque fashion, stormed his way back into the match and silenced the three amigos with CBS microphones. Evidently someone needs a "Commentary for dummies" session so that millions of viewers watching the game can get both sides of the story.
I was also reminded how Impartial the likes of Harsha Bhogle, Ravi Shashtry and Sunil Gavaskar are when they commentate for a sport so revered and for fans who are so religious about it. Tells you a lot about the nuances in the character of these men.

The preamble

This is an attempt to articulate my quarter-life "wish I was an athlete...or atleast someone who writes about it" crisis. My sportsessive-compulsive-disorder is primarily three pronged as Cricket/Tennis/Everything else. I intend to spew my venom on daily activities and other eye-brow raising incidents at blogspot. Only time will tell if this vent will serve the cooling pupose it's been designed for. So here goes.....