VAMOS RAFA

The final of US OPEN 2019 was yet again a perfect example to depict the kind of champion Rafael Nadal has been over the years. The sheer grit and tenacity of the man was once again on display much to the delight of the capacity crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium as well as Tennis fans across the globe. He had to dig deep and fight valiantly till the very end and his relentless attitude served him well as it has over the course of his illustrious career.

Medvedev and Nadal at the start of the match

Nadal was up against a formidable and in-form opponent in Daniil Medvedev who stretched Rafa to the limits in the epic five set final that lasted close to 5 hours. Rafa took the first two sets and was well on his way to running away with the match but Medvedev fought back brilliantly to take the match into the fifth set. Medvedev who was booed throughout the tournament by the New York crowd won many a hearts in the final with the kind of skill set he showcased against one of the all time greats the sport has ever seen. Nadal has just lost one match in his entire career after winning the first two sets and was in no mood to let that change. He went on to take the fifth set and with that won the US OPEN 2019 FINAL 7-5, 6-3, 5-7, 4-6, 6-4. The occasion got the better of Nadal as he broke down in tears after the match and admitted that “This has been one of the most emotional nights in my tennis career.”

Nadal with the US OPEN trophy

This win took him within touching distance of Roger Federer’s 20 Grand Slam wins as this was his 19th Grand Slam victory. It has been a remarkable effort by Rafa owing to his debilitating knee pain over the course of his career. He seems to be fitter and hungrier than ever to leave the demons behind and go on to be the greatest of all times. The passion that drives Rafa is so infectious. Merely watching him perform is a fan’s delight and surely this five set triumph just added to his legend.

THE VAGARIES OF SPORTS NEVER CEASES TO AMAZE

Even for someone who passionately follows Cricket and is fully aware of the unpredictability of this beautiful game, would still be amazed with how the result read after yesterday’s Cricket World Cup Final : “England won by virtue of hitting more boundaries“. The stipulated 100 overs of the ODI match couldn’t decide the winner as the scores were level and the match went down to the Super Over. It seemed the Super Over will decide the winner but there was more drama as both teams ended up scoring 15 runs and hence New Zealand was left with the agony of losing the match as they scored fewer boundaries than England.

England won the ODI title for the first time

New Zealand were outstanding to stretch the formidable batting line up of England while chasing a modest score of 241. It seemed as if England were destined to win the title after what transpired in the closing stages of the match. Trent Boult caught Ben Stokes in the last over but went over the boundary and it was a six. Then with 9 required off 3 balls something bizarre happened. The ball hit a diving Stokes’ bat and ricochet off it for 4 overthrows. It’s a part of game but to happen at that stage of the match was unreal. Jofra Archer who was no where on the International scene two months ago was entrusted to do the job for his team and he delivered under immense pressure. The result seemed cruel at the end but such were the rules set by ICC and it was too harsh for the Kiwis as they too deserved to be the winners. It again showcases that Cricket is a game of small margins and the match could have gone either way. Agony for one and ecstasy for the other as England won the ODI World Cup for the first time. Cricket again emerged as the winner in a hard fought match by both sides which was full of true sportsman spirit and that is what makes this encounter one for the ages.

Just a few distance away in the same city of London there was an epic clash between Federer and Djokovic in the Wimbledon Final. The level of Tennis played in this match was nerve wrecking and both of them had to dig deep and make use of every inch on the court to find the winners. It was the longest ever Wimbledon Final that lasted for 4 hours and 55 minutes but there wasn’t a dull moment as it was filled with high voltage Tennis from both the players. It was the first time the final was decided by a fifth set tie break after 12-12 in the last set. Djokovic won the crucial points as he won all the three tie breaks in the first, third and fifth set. Federer had his chances as he had two Championship Points but squandered both of them and Djokovic pounced back to eventually win his 5th Wimbledon title and 16th Grand Slam overall.

Hamilton after winning the British Grand Prix

It was a double delight for the British as Lewis Hamilton won the F1 Grand Prix at the Silverstone Circuit and extended his lead to 39 points. This eventful Sunday shall be remembered for a long time to come not only for the results but for all the minute details that went into making these contests so significant. The unpredictability and the thrill that is associated with sports is what makes it such a joyous affair and surely the events of Sunday, July 14th,2019 lived up to all the hype that surrounded these momentous clashes.

FEDERERISED ON THE CENTRE COURT

It was an epic clash between the two greatest players who share 38 Grand Slam titles between them. 11 years since they last met at Wimbledon in the 2008 final in probably one of the greatest tennis matches in the open era, much was expected of them to live up to all the hype surrounding this year’s semi-final match and they surely didn’t disappoint. Although the match didn’t go down to the fifth set as it did back then but yesterday’s match had moments of sheer brilliance by both the players much to the delight of everyone who loves the game of Tennis.

Ever since the draw is announced prior to the start of the tournament, people look forward to this match as to at what stage will they be on collision course. Such is the interest and the aura surrounding their match. The kind of tennis that they produce against each other is extraordinary and both of them are able to bring out the best from one another. Federer with all his class and Rafa with his indomitable spirit never cease to disappoint. Although the score at the end of the match read 7-6(3),1-6,6-3,6-4 in favour of Federer, anyone who watched the match would admit it was way close than what the score reflects.

Rafa who just beat Federer few weeks back at the Roland Garros semi-final on his way to 12th French Open title had the upper hand going into this match owing to his recent form and his age advantage if the match went down to the wire. But over the years it has been Roger who has owned the grass court and for sure he pulled out a sublime performance to down Rafa. Rafa had lead Federer 10-3 in Grand Slam clashes prior to yesterday’s match and in most of those wins he has targeted Roger’s backhand and he tried to employ similar tactics in yesterday’s match as well. But the authority with which Roger was hitting the backhand yesterday was truly mesmerizing to watch. Not just the backhand slices to stay in the rally but the backhand winners he hit were marvellous. Nadal who wins the longer rallies and tires down and frustrates the opponent with the amount of distance he covers on the court didn’t deter Federer as he was willing to engage in the longer rallies and this was so refreshing to watch. Roger managed to even win points on his second serve and that proved to be too much for Rafa. After a closely contested first set which Roger won in the tie break, Rafa came back strongly as one would expect of him and picked up the second set 6-1 and it looked like he was running away with the match. But in the third set Roger played some outrageous tennis that he hasn’t played in a long long time, it was vintage Roger and when that happens he is too good for any challenge. He broke Nadal early in the fourth set and then did exceptionally well to hold on to his serve in the entire set to eventually beat Nadal.

Federer exults after the match

The camaraderie and the amount of respect that Nadal and Federer have for one another is exemplary and showcases their true sportsman spirit and this is what makes them such lovable figures for the fans. It is widely speculated year after year as to when the top 3 including Djokovic will bow down and the younger generation will take over the mantle but year after year they continue to enthrall everyone with their sheer brilliance and love for the game. They continue to perform at the highest level thwarting whatever challenges are thrown at them and for the fans it’s apt to bask in the glory till it lasts. They are the true ambassadors of the game and still have a lot to offer.

THE “BAD BOY” WHO IS GOOD FOR THE GAME OF TENNIS

In the recent times if anyone has been deemed ‘BAD FOR TENNIS’ it has to be Nick Kyrgios. This opinion of him stems from his on court rants and his underhand serve that attracted a lot of ire and talks of unsportsmanlike spirit from within the corridors of the game and fans alike. There is however more to him as he is one of the most talented players on the ATP TOUR.

In his debut season at Wimbledon in 2014 he stunned Nadal in the Round of 16 and announced his arrival on the big stage. But ever since his performances have been inconsistent and has failed to live up to the expectations of winning Grand Slams. Every now and then he pulls out a terrific victory here and there but doesn’t really go the distance. He has a knack of bringing out his best game against the greats of the game. Yesterday’s match at Wimbledon against Rafael Nadal again showcased his brilliance and the level of tennis that he comes up with against the top players. Prior to the match he was tied at 3-3 in head to head clashes against Nadal and leads 2-0 against Djokovic.

This year’s second round match against Nadal was a much anticipated contest not only for what happened in 2014 when he got the better of Nadal but also for what happened in Acapulco earlier this year. It was here that he added to his repertoire of being ‘Bad’ and ‘unsportsmanlike’ when he dished out the underhand serve and eventually went onto beat Nadal. This opened up a tirade against him and Nadal’s camp was furious for what he did and Uncle Toni went onto say that he lacked “education and smartness” . So for obvious reasons everyone was looking forward to this match and Kyrgios didn’t disappoint when he called Nadal “Super Salty” prior to the match to add to the drama. The match itself was worth all the hype. It was entertaining right from the word go. The animosity was quite palpable and one could feel it by merely watching it from their homes on TV.

From the first set itself Kyrgios was uncomfortable with the chair umpire and through the match was involved in animated conversations with him. He kept on complaining regarding the amount of time Nadal took between serves. He was all over the place and lost the first set 3-6. At this stage it seemed he would fade away but somehow he gained momentum and picked up the second set 6-3. All this while he kept on whining but the quality of tennis he put forth was nothing short of magical. Nadal by his standards was quite subdued and the Aussie was playing some outrageous shots much to the delight of the centre court. It was in the third set when Kyrgios tried to hit Nadal with his shot that he struck so viciously (after the match he admitted that he tried to hit Nadal square in the chest with his shot) that Nadal looked back and stared at him as to say bring it on. From that moment on Nadal was at his usual best of fist bumping and getting the crowd involved. In between all the action that unfolded on Centre Court the fans were treated to some enthralling game of Tennis which Nadal eventually won 6-3,3-6,7-6(5),7-6(3). The chair umpire however was at the receiving end of Kyrgios but still it was box office stuff.

Nadal spoke highly of Kyrgios prior to the match when he said : “I am playing against a top talented player, very dangerous player when he wants to play tennis“. This epitomizes Kyrgios’ position that he has so much to offer to the game but only when he is willing to play. Even in yesterday’s match he could have done away with needless distractions and all that ranting and spitting on court and maybe the result would have been entirely different. Someone needs to sit down with him and tell him the kind of talent that he is and what he really is capable of. One would assume that people around him must have told him this obvious fact umpteen number of times. It will only make a difference however only when he is willing to listen and act accordingly. His demons lie within, the sooner he tackles his own demons the better it’ll be for him, the fans and the beautiful game of Tennis for this ‘Bad Boy’ has so much to offer and surely is ‘Good’ for the game.