Monday, September 14, 2015

Novak Djokovic - A Champion of Nerves

The delayed US Open 2015 final between Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer had put my plans in jeopardy for the Sunday evening. Since I had already committed to meet my friend, I decided to keep the match on back burner and get going with my plans. Grand slam finals happen every year, but these moments of extraordinary Tennis remind you to cherish Tennis (at least on personal level). I convince my pliable friend to change the plans. We watch tennis together while playing some video games. 

Now back to the game. Last few years have defined consistency of Novak and extension of Roger's career in Tennis world. We are not strangers to their superlative display of Tennis. Roger's serve and volley game has evolved under Stephan Edberg, while Novak has added sharpness and knife like edge to his server under Boris Becker. Boris Becker was Stephan Edberg's nemesis, always. It seems Boris has taught all the tricks in his bag to Novak to overcome Roger, always (at least in recent history). Match started late. When the players took on the court, Roger looked unsettled from the beginning. First game went for 7 minutes where Novak getting 3 breakpoints which he was unable to take advantage of. But it didn't take him long to break Roger's serve. Roger broke back Novak's serve and that brought partisan crowd to its feet. 

Novak is not considered affable tennis player compared to his opponents and he being consistent and number 1 in the world add to his woes. That's why when the crowd is against you and you are playing against the best tennis player in the history of game, it makes Novak more resilient and stronger mentally. That also makes me support him more. Back to the match, Novak won the first 6-4 with a resolve against crowd and the early fall he took on the cement court which did cause some bruises on his arm. 

Once again, Roger's new weapon SABR(Sneak Attack by Roger) was in display, but I was astounded that he did not use as much he had used in previous rounds. Despite struggles by both players, the set eventually landed in Roger's pocket when he broke Novak in the 12th game of the set. Roger won that set 7-5. Roger's supporters which were majority in the stadium, cheered Novak's unforced errors and double faults, it was such a plight that an ardent tennis fan will cry for Novak. In amidst all drama, Novak has grown over the time with his nerves and mental toughness. It's hard to beat him in that area. 

Third set was again neck-to-neck and Novak got the crucial break through after escaping a jam on his own serve. He went on to win 6-4. Fourth set looked cakewalk for Novak, but Roger showed why his still one of the best players in the history. Roger fought back with a break when Novak was leading 5-2. Those efforts were not enough for Roger to survive and Novak won the set and championship at  6-4 in fourth set. 

Novak may not be people's champion, but he has earned enough to support him through his mental toughness. The more people don't support him (specially against Roger), the more he becomes resolve to win against his opponent. If his opponents need any formula to beat Novak, it should be to beat his mental toughness, otherwise nobody has got a chance for next few years. 

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

The rivalry to die for

There is something poetic about the rivalry between Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal. They have played umpteenth time and every match brings enthusiasm, rejuvenation or just a new life to tennis. If I die tomorrow, I will totally tell everyone happily that I was blessed to see Novak, Rafa and Roger in same era. The fierce competition, the rivalry , the elegance, the athleticism and just being human. Every sports produces finest athletes and comparing athletes across different sports is not new. Eventually sports is nothing but skill which you hone over the years, but there is also a factor of talent and many may disagree with me, but yes the hard work these players can put in. 

A final before a final , that's how I describe tomorrow's match between Novak and Rafa, The two of greatest competitors ever born to play the beautiful game of tennis. Each others' fans are ready with their swords to dis each other and speculate who will win, but I just want to enjoy those beautiful ground strokes, those backhand shots or those drop shots on the beauty of clay court in Paris. If Vincent Van Gogh was alive, he would totally describe this match with The Starry night. 

Rafa, the undisputed king of clay court in Paris, has been immensely talented for many years, but his recent struggle with his body is very inevitable. This is the first time in many years, he is without a clay title while entering into Roland Garros. The struggle before the French Open was very much making him vulnerable to fall to any player, but current form has been staggering, specially in this tournament. The constant struggle and win over it only reminds me of the Irish poem 
 Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.
His unbreakable record on the red clay is with him, I hope that gives him the confidence. Five-set matches are a different beast altogether compared to matches in ATP 1000 tournaments. Whether it is his elegant double handed backhand or his pre-match rituals , he has won hearts every where.


For a decade Federer and Rafa dominated tennis world on respective courts of grass and clay, here came another king of hard court who probably did everything to conquer other two warriors, but it was not enough till he changed his diet in 2010. Novak has become unstoppable force in last 4 years. His unbeatable record this year has been stupendous and probably he will overcome himself in that record from his 2011 record. His ability to come back from behind to beat his opponent with fatigue and his return is very well known. He has been great first server. Novak's overall strength in tennis is not just physical, but it is also mental where he has practiced Yoga for years and now he looks lethal on tennis court.  
Another morning, another match between the two great warriors with different style and attitude towards the game, but hard core lover for the game. This French open has been revelation in the sense how top 10 players have been consistent with their ability to win matches on different surfaces. I don't like to speculate or nor I care about the result. I am ready to get enthralled for great strokes, rallies and some great tennis. 
Go Rafa, Go Novak

P.S. - The images have been copied from wikipedia (Rafa) and Telegraph.co.uk (Novak) websites. 

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Potatoes in our curry tonight

Match - India vs Ireland
Venue - Seddon Park, Hamilton
The excitement, the fervor, the enthusiasm, the joy , everything was there for a cricket fan in me. The match obviously was secondary, but it was still going to be a lifetime experience to enjoy a World Cup match in New Zealand.

After a long trip from all the way midwest, US to New Zealand, the weather was a welcome change, From frenzy cold to summer hot. I love summer.The hot day at Seddon park was perfectly set for a match which was very important for Ireland.India was already in quarter finals and thought they will take this match easily. 

Moment of the match - When Virat Kohli on third man boundary to field. All Indian fans went berserk in that corridor of the stadium. "Jeetegi bhai Jeetegi, Anushka Jeetegi" started buzzing everywhere. As always Virat has that arrogant look on his face and don't really care about his fans or spectators. 

Fan Moment of the match - When it is an India match, you can expect a sold out crowd. Indians are cricket crazy we know it. If I can travel all the way from US to watch India match, you can imagine the local Indians staying in New Zealand and Australia coming to watch the match. On the ground, there were like 95% Indians and rest were Ireland fans. Such was a dominance of sound of Indian fans was that Irish fans were dancing to Bhangra songs all the time. During all the crazy crowd, an Indian fan lost his wallet somewhere , but an Irish fan ran after him and returned to the wallet to Indian fan. Great gesture. 

Hamilton & Seddon Park Experience - No doubt,  New Zealand is my favorite country. From childhood, the cricket matches in New Zealand were exciting. They used to start in early morning in India and will go till 11 AM or 12 PM. The grounds were always exotic and very people friendly. Open spaces to sit anywhere you want. I always adored that part of cricket experience that you should be allowed to sit anywhere. Seddon Park is hell of a picturesque stadium with just around 12000-13000 capacity. But it's beautiful around sunset time.
 
Memory of  lifetime - Definitely one trip to New Zealand is not enough to appreciate New Zealand completely. I will be back , baby. But the experience in Hamilton has left me spell bound and I hope to explore rest of New Zealand in my next trip. The below picture is of Hobbiton where the movies LOTR and The Hobbit have been shot. The Hobbiton lies in close to a town called Matamata which is an hour drive from Hamilton.

Monday, September 08, 2014

New winners and new beginnings

Tennis has always been a sport close to my heart with all those childhood memories discussing about Edberg or Becker or Courier. Even when I had an argument with my dad about Graf or Seles, tennis was always growing in life. Players come , they dominate and they go. Tennis is also only game where the mental toughness is more required than any other game. One major reason for that is it is an individual sport and not a team sport where your team mates can cover for your flaws and make a better team. Tennis requires individual person just not physically fit, but also mentally strong and always prepare for all the different challenges life throws at you. e.g. Seles after a fan stabbing her in the back or Clijsters winning grand slam title after becoming a mom or Djokovic battling his health and improving his diet and then winning number of grand slam titles. One era ends and another begins. It is always hard to see old champions who we have started loving , lose and new players rising with totally different game. But that's life. Sun sets and sun rises. Probably we have to appreciate whatever we have in our hands rather than worrying about what we don't have. 
               Since I have watched tennis from childhood and have seen how generations change in tennis, it is always easy to form new alliances along the way. Courier, Sampras dominated for sometime , Agassi came back from retirement to dominate the sport, Graf was ever dominating before Hingis and Venus Williams arrived, Federer dominated in first decade of 2000 and then Nadal stopped him , as Nadal was becoming new favorite, Djokovic arrived from the shadows of both great players to dominate the sport. Now we are in 2014 and last grand slam of the year, for the first time in decade there is no Nadal, Djokovic or Federer in the final.
                      Marin Cilic and Kei Nishikori are in US Open final after beating No. 1 and No. 2 seeds who were crowd favorites, specially after their thrilling 5-setter at Wimbledon 2014. Is this another new beginning? Marin Cilic with his strong first serve and volley game defeated Nishikori 6-3,6-3,6-3 to win his first grand slam title. Both are 25 and 24. With the new talent always coming to shore, old stalwarts are not forgotten , but just replaced with new champions. Dimitrov, Rionic , Nishikori and Cilic will dominate new few years. But we still have to see where Djokovic and Nadal go from here. They still have few more years left in them. Djokovic's marriage and arrival of his baby are definitely going to be top priority for him. It would be interesting to see him in Australian Open 2015 if he comes with same intensity of winning. There is some time to go for ATP World Championship, till then let's celebrate Marin Cilic's victory and Nishikori's resilience he showed during the last week of US Open. 


Sunday, June 29, 2014

What do you listen while running?

Running is a meditation while being active. Running is a love for yourself. Running is a bliss. I have got to that point about running that the day I don't run, I feel I have lost some part of my body. I have been running from last year on and off, but the focus for running has come in last 3-4 months and every time I run, I feel I should run that extra mile. So what inspires you while running? Here is the list of my 5 songs I listen while running that keeps me on my feet all the time.

1) 500 miles by Peter, Paul & Mary - This song is very synonymous with running and it just keeps me pushing harder and harder for every mile I run. I think I can keep this song on loop while running and I won't get bored of it.
2) Sirens by Eddie Vedder - The song has such a profound meaning and it is a typical Eddie Vedder song where it touches your heart if you have followed his other songs like "No Ceilings" or "Society".
3) Make your own kind of music by Mama Cass - This is a very chirpy song and very refreshing dancing kind of song. Also considering its connection with TV show "Lost", the song has been in my playlist for long time now.
4) Final Countdown by Europe - I think this is my eternal favorite song considering how geeky this song is. From early 90s to till now, the song has always been in my every music playing instrument. Tape recorder, walkman, ipod, cd player, TV or even my phone now.
5) Demons by Imagine Dragons - Imagine Dragons' first album's song that made them famous. The deep meaning of the song and the voice of Dan Reynolds is very influential. 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Book Review: The Disappearance of Tejas Sharma and other hauntings

With utmost pleasure and interest, I am happy to write a review of a book. This book has more personal connection than any book I have ever read in my life, so I will definitely be biased little bit, but my opinion about the book is 100 percent my opinion and I am proud to say this book is a "Must read"

Manish starts with a folk story and while growing up in a small village in India, I have come across such stories. The main attraction of the story is the finesse with which Manish tells the account of the happenings in a small village. In general I love the book when I can relate to characters or happenings and probably I love this story even more because there are characters which I might have come across in my life. It is a big thing for an author to achieve this in his first book because it makes the stories personal and unforgettable.

One of the stories have a dangerous and humor touch at the same time. Manish's attempt at the humor is really praiseworthy because you chuckle at the end part of the story and then keep your eyes wide open in disbelief thinking "What just happened?"

Couple of stories have touch of Saki. Manish's writing is incredibly mind blowing and so perfect that you can create the mental picture in your head for these stories. These stories will give you the depth of Manish's  knowledge and research about people and culture.

Story telling is the hardest art and if an author can keep its readers intrigued till the last line of the story, I think author has hit a home run. One of the stories "Her Unkept Promise", have that touch where Manish keeps you at the edge of the seat till the last line of that story. From this story, I can only say that author has so much potential to become a famous author in coming days.

Last time, I was terrified for whole night or there was a chill down my spine, it was when I watched "The Shining". Stephan King and Jack Nicholson is a combination which can create nightmares and cause you sleepless nights. I had a similar feeling with the central piece of the book "The Disappearance of Tejas Sharma". This story is a master piece in story telling and Manish has done a tremendous job. Since I know Manish personally, the certain aspects of the story are very close to my observation and those even make this story more chilling.

Hats off Manish, the book has been incredible piece of your hard work and this is just the beginning. Way to go !!




Thursday, May 30, 2013

How to spot-fix a cricket match !!

If you are from God's own country and have some connection to the country full of oil wells, you have necessary qualification to spot fix a cricket match. Next thing you need is a Nokia Lumia cell phone which you will gift to your future girl friend. Essentially, this girl friend will be your way to connect with D-Company. What is a D-Company? Well it is a company owned by a boss who is sitting on a couch and eating curd rice with both of his hands, also letting spill some rice from his mouth. You got the idea. 

Once the girl friend contacts D-Company boss, he will give you the specific orders to play for a certain team, specially a team which is meager on budget and owned by Bollywood's Laura Croft. You don't need extra talent to play cricket, but you must be good at throwing tantrums and dancing, probably also future  contestant for Dancing with the Stars.

Once you are selected in the team, you must show that you work hard and have something in you that you get whacked by northies. D-Company boss will send you extra towels (Made in Dubai) and you should use them to clean the dust on the ball and on your face. There is a coded signal you must give to a bookie during the match. Picking your nose is considered the safest signal. Your goal is to concede 14 runs with 3 balls. The foremost reason for such numbers is D-Company boss is a big fan of Pi.

Spot fixing a cricket match looks easier from this post, but lot of hard work goes into the process, specially when so many people are involved in the entertainment business, specially bookies. Go Rotlu , you are an official spot-fixer now.