Sunday, September 28, 2008

FOOTBALL: Zaki Scores his 6th Goal for Wigan to Down City

Egyptian star, Amr Zaki, scored from the penalty spot to give Wigan a 2-1 victory over nouveau-riche Manchester City, and stretch the Latics' unbeaten streak to 6 matches. Luis Antonio Valencia struck first to give Wigan the lead before Vincent Kompany leveled the match for City at 1-1. Zaki's goal, his sixth of the season, secured the 3 points for his side, placing Wigan in the 10th spot of the league table.

Apparently Amr is always ready... Are you???

Beijing Winners: Roddick and Jankovic


Here's what he could be thinking:

If I had known Beijing was gonna be this sweet to me, I wouldn't have ditched the Olympics!!!

Okay but we gotta give him some credit. Here's what he really said:

"I would really like to contribute a part of my prize money to those families affected, to those who lost everything they had, suffered painful injuries or lost loved ones in the earthquake... It’s my great honor to be in Beijing to work with CTA to assist those kids who are in need. It is an athlete's privilege and responsibility to give back."


JJ is possibly thinking to herself:

Oh what a cute toy!?! Hmm... I shall call him Mladjan!!! :)

Tsonga Roars in Bangkok - Wins First ATP Title

How would have thought that after his unbelievable tournament at the Aussie Open back in January, Tsonga's first ATP triumph would come 9 months later?!?! Well the Frenchman, who reached a career-high no. 11 in the world rankings before suffering a knee injury, overcame a 3-month injury time out and finally came back to snatch his very first ATP title and he did it against the person who denied him that honor in Melbourne; Novak Djokovic.

Tsonga edged past Djokovic 7-6, 6-4 in the Bangkok final on Sunday, to avenge his loss to the Serb at the Australian Open final earlier this year, and slightly improve his chances of qualifying to the Tennis Masters Cup in Shanghai.

Djokovic, who hasn't won a title since May in Rome, has already qualified to the Masters Cup for the second straight year, but let's hope he has enough left in the tank for it by then, unlike last year when he lost his 3 round robin matches and flew back home early.

"I feel great, it’s got to be one of the best moments of my life... I just played unbelievable tennis against Novak and it was just my dream so I’m really happy."
"The last game was very hard and I was just saying in my head “Go On! Do It!” so it was incredible. I was not nervous (about the match), I was just a little bit nervous about Novak because he has played just unbelievably and, for me, it’s difficult to play against him because I have a really good serve and I think one of the best parts of his game is the return."



"I lost the final against a great player. Jo wisely used his opportunities and deserved to win his first title. I played a bit too defensively today in the final. You have to use your opportunities and I didn’t. It’s unfortunate to lose in the final but I lost to a great player so I have no regrets. Congratulations to Jo and his team on his first ATP title. I’m sure we’ll see a lot of him in the future."

"Reaching the final is a great result for me, especially considering the difficult period I had with the tough Davis Cup match after the US Open. I haven’t won a tournament since Rome but I’m not that disappointed since I have played consistently at the major events. I will now work on my endurance and strength and am aiming for good results during the indoor season. There are several important events coming up."

Quotes from atptennis.com, images from Getty Images

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Djoko to Face Tsonga in Bangkok Final

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga defeated his French compatriot Gael Monfils in the Bangkok semifinals on Saturday, to book himself a final showdown against world number 3, Novak Djokovic. The Ali-look-alike will be looking to avenge his Australian Open final loss he suffered to Djokovic earlier this season.

In January, Tsonga made a surprise run to the Aussie Open final, which was his first ATP final ever, where he trumped Rafael Nadal on the way. Hampered by an injury that forced him out of play for 3 months, the Frenchman failed to capitalize on his success in the Australian season, as he only managed to reach one semifinal in Casablanca since then. The final in Bangkok will be Tsonga's second career ATP final appearance.


"It will be great to meet Jo once again. It will be very interesting to play him. It’s the second time we play and again it’s in a final. Anything can happen, I don’t see myself as the favorite. Jo has been playing fantastic tennis this week and is very motivated."

"It will be a different match and different conditions, but it will be my chance to take my revenge."

Photo Credit: Associated Press

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Ruthless Rafa Carries Spain into Davis Cup Finals

I don't understand how someone can play (and win) as many matches as Rafa has played all year, travel across the globe picking up titles east and west, and then have the heart to not only play in the Davis Cup, but kick some major butt and display some close to flawless tennis to take his country and teammates into the Davis Cup finals. The thing is, no one else can do that except Rafa!

The world number one outclassed Andy Roddick today in the fourth rubber of the semifinal Davis Cup tie 6-4, 6-0, 6-4 to give Spain an unassailable 3-1 lead over the USA and earn a ticket to the final.

Feliciano Lopez made it 4-1 later in the dead rubber against Sam Querrey but it was Rafa who deserved to be carried at the end (remind me again why dead rubbers are played?!?!?).

The Spanish sensation fired 60 winners against Roddick and saved all 7 break points he faced during the match.

Roddick was close to disbelief during the match as he joked around with his team coach, Patrick McEnroe, between games.

He’s possibly the best clay-courter ever so it’s tough, especially when he hits like he did today," said the American world number 8.

Rafa on the other hand seemed to impress himself more than anybody else. “Today I play an almost perfect match and it is very, very exciting,” said the 22-year old. “Today I played very well. I shocked myself with some of the winners I played, was near perfect tennis.”

It must be a pretty cool feeling...Outperforming your own expectations in front of 21000 people chanting your name!

Photo credit: AFP/Getty Images

Viva Espana :)

Nole and Tsonga to Kick Off 2009 Season in Brisbane


World number 3, Novak Djokovic, and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga will help inaugurate the new tennis event in Brisbane, where they will launch their 2009 campaigns.

As Australian Open champion and Australian Open runner-up, both players will highlight the stellar field which also includes French Open champion, Ana Ivanovic, on the women's side.

The new tournament will be the first of the Australian Open Series and will take place between January 4th and 11th.

It is the perfect way to begin my Australian campaign. I have heard great things about Brisbane but never had the opportunity to visit,” Djokovic said.

I am excited to be coming to a new event in a sensational new stadium. It is going to be great to renew my acquaintance with the very supporting Australian tennis fans.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Davis Cup Update: Spain 2 - 1 USA

The Americans kept their Davis Cup hopes alive (however far-fetched they may be) as they grabbed a point from their doubles rubber against Spain on Saturday.

Mike Bryan and Mardy Fish (Bob Bryan's replacement) overcame Fernando Verdasco and Feliciano Lopez 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 to shorten Spain's lead to 2-1, after Rafael Nadal and David Ferrer had grabbed a 2-0 lead for Spain on Friday.

I think the American duo deserve a two thumbs-up given that Fish was called at the very last minute, when Bob Bryan aggravated an injury, and he only started practicing with Mike a week ago. They managed to edge past the Spaniards, who were cheered upon by an insane home crowd in a bull-fighting arena. If that's not intimidating, I don't know what is.

Tomorrow, Andy Roddick will face Nadal, while Sam Querrey will face Ferrer. Nadal leads Roddick 3-2 head-to-head, but they have split their 2 meetings this year. Querrey and Ferrer have never played each other before.

Tie Details
---------------


Nadal def. Querrey 6-7, 6-4, 6-3, 6-4
Ferrer def. Roddick 7-6, 2-6, 1-6, 6-4, 8-6
Bryan/Fish def. Verdasco/Lopez 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Davis Cup Sneak Peak


First singles rubber between Argentina and Russia will be Nalbandian vs. Andreev


Second rubber features JMDP vs. Davydenko


Rafa starts for Spain against America's Sam Querrey


Roddick lookin' pretty cheerful considering he'll have to face Rafa and Ferrer on clay in Madrid

Ferrer lookin' pretty intense. Do you reckon he'll seal the deal against Roddick?

Ivanovic Loses Again - But hey, at least she enjoyed her time in Tokyo ...

World number 3, Ana Ivanovic, is yet to win 2 straight matches since her third round Wimbledon defeat last June, as the former number 1 player crashed out of the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo, falling in 3 sets to unseeded Nadia Petrova in the third round.

Despite her 1-6, 6-1, 2-6 loss, the French Open champion seemed happy with her tournament saying:

"I really enjoyed my time. I'm just very happy to have an opportunity to get in the matches again."

Well at least she's happy right?!?! :D

Her Serbian compatriot, Jelena Jankovic, however made it to the quarters alongside Safina, Dementieva, Kutznetsova, Srebotnik, Petrova, Radwanska and Kanepi. JJ can reclaim the number one spot in the rankings (which she held for a single week before) if she wins the tournament.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Comedy Spots: From Wedgies to Ripped Pants....

Photo Credit: Cati Cladera

Rafael Nadal was attending a tribute event paid to the Balearic Islands' Olympic medal winners in Palma de Mallorca, when he discovered his pants were ripped. He took care of the situation by tying his jacket around his waist only to reveal a sweaty shirt underneath... Rafa couldn't help himself from laughing off the situation but am sensing this won't be the end of that story. Just when jokes about the "wedgy" situation were dying off, this happens.... The Spaniard can't catch a break :)

Wanna Know If Federer Can End the Year as Number 1?


Well you can find out by checking this article at Suite101.com .

Federer's Chances of Regaining the Number 1 Spot: How the ATP Ranking System Works?

After winning the US Open, Roger Federer's next goal will be regaining his number 1 ranking. What exactly does the Swiss need to do to become number 1 again in tennis?... Read More Here

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Some Humor Despite the Loss...

Photo credit: usopen.org

Q. Obviously you came here for the trophy. You're going away at 21 with a check for a million dollars. Does it seem slightly unreal?

ANDY MURRAY: That's about 10 pounds, isn't it? (laughter.)


It's interesting to see the young Scott cracking jokes during his press conference, a few minutes after his dismal performance against Federer in the final.

Federer Wins 13th Slam, Murray Goes Down Without a Fight

I gotta say I'm not one to shy from admitting my mistakes; and thinking that Andy Murray had a chance of beating Roger Federer in the final today was a huge mistake. Okay I may have considered, for just a split second, editing my post about Murray's chances against Federer but I won't... The fact is: Andy Murray was a humongous disappointment tonight.

A ferocious Federer outplayed Murray 6-2, 7-5, 6-2 to win his 5th straight US Open title and 13th Grand Slam (1 more to go to level with Pete) to quieten all the skeptics who doubted the Swiss still had what it takes to win a Slam. Of course he has what it takes; the guy reached the Aussie Open semis, the final at both Roland Garros and Wimbledon and now topped off his season with a doubles Gold medal at Beijing and a US Open trophy. And the season ain't over yet!!!

Murray stepped on court with as little fire in him as a tiny candle on a windy day. The new world number 4 showed no signs of his lethal form he had displayed against Del Potro and Nadal heading into the final, and was outclassed by the Swiss master in every possible way.

And the sad part is, it didn't look like nerves. I mean with Djokovic last year, the Serb created for himself a zillion break point opportunities and had set points and stuff, but cuz he was nervous and new to the big stage, he couldn't seal the deal but at least he took Federer to 2 tiebreaks. Murray seemed totally unfazed. I mean it's unfair to say he didn't want it cuz am sure he did, but his attitude on court didn't show it and he kept playing to Federer's forehand and then baring the consequences. How come players still don't get how Nadal beats Federer?!?! Give the guy a bloody high ball to his backhand and see what he's gonna do!!!!!

Anyways, it was such a bad final in my opinion. I mean Federer was blazing but I would have loved to see Murray challenge him a little bit.

Nonetheless, congratz are due to the great champ. Am liking the fact that the Slams this year were split 3 ways... Who knows, maybe next year we'll have 4 different winners?!?!?! Wishful thinking?!?!

As for Murray, I guess we need to look at his tournament as a whole. That huge match against Del Potro and his 2-day match against Rafa. He did reach the final after all... That was some real good tennis. Let's hope he works on his consistency and shapes up for the big stage.

Man am gonna miss this Slam. It was a very entertaining fortnight. Davis Cup is up next followed by an indoor season where Federer will try to snatch back his number one ranking from Rafa. Stay tuned :)

Rafa's Press Conference Post-Murray Defeat



Someone who knows how to lose like a champ ...

Monday, September 8, 2008

Congratz Serena, Respect Jelena!!!

OH MY GOD!! That must have been Jelena Jankovic's feeling everytime she saw Serena Williams preparing for a shot the other side of the net. Williams overpowered the glittered up Serb 6-4, 7-5 to capture her 3rd US Open title and 9th Grand Slam trophy.

I have a newly found utmost respect for JJ. She fought and she fought despite the obvious fact that Williams is just too strong and too good of an opponent. Williams at her best is scary. Seriously! However; JJ put up an amazing fight whether it was trying to outrally Serena or reacting to a volley hit right at her at the net, or saving break points against the Mighty ReRe.

JJ actually broke twice in the first set and was serving for the second set at 5-4, but again I must say, Serena is in a league of her own, and the fact that JJ made it look somewhat like a competition is worth any tennis fan's respect.

Both players gave us a spectacular tennis final to watch, and Serena and JJ were the perfect duo to feature in it. I still can't get over those rallies.

And just to top it off, Serena earned herself a $1.5 million cheque and the number one spot in the world rankings as an "added bonus" like she said on court. JJ is still the world number 2 of course and she should leave NYC as a very proud US Open runner-up.

My Money's on Murray...

I know this may seem weird coming from an avid Rafa fan, but hats off to Andy Murray!!!

The newest addition to the world's top 4 is a sizzling 21-year-old Scottsman and he just ousted world number 1, Rafael Nadal from the US Open semifinals with his ripping backhand and relentless returns.

After the match was suspended on Saturday due to rain, many thought that Nadal had a strong chance of making a comeback on Sunday despite the Spaniard being down 2 sets to love. Nadal, who was up a break in the 3rd set, stepped on court upbeat on Sunday and managed to hold serve throughout the set to win it 6-4. He then had to save 7 breakpoints in a marathon second game of the 4th set before he secured his service game and he went on to break Murray to love and go up 3-1.

I honestly thought it was going to a fifth set but Murray did not waver for a second. The Scott broke back and leveled at 3-3 and continued to pressure Nadal with his insane returns and backhands until the Spaniard faltered at 4-5 and conceded the game, the set and the match to Murray, who has now reached his first Grand Slam final and has improved his poor record against Rafa to 1-5.

Murray's next opponent will be none other than the great Roger Federer, who is looking to win his 5th straight US Open title and first Grand Slam of the season.

Surprisingly enough, Murray is one of the very few active players who have a positive head-to-head record over the Swiss. Murray leads 2-1 in their previous meetings and has won the two most recent ones, earlier this year in Dubai where he beat Federer 6-7, 6-3, 6-4 and in Cincinnati in 2006 where he won in straight sets. His sole loss to Federer was back in 2005 in Bangkok.

Given that Murray has experience beating Federer on hardcourt, and the unbelievable form he's shown against Wawrinka, Del Potro and Rafa, I think he has a huge chance of becoming the first Brit to lift the US Open men's singles trophy since Fred Perry did in 1936.

Either way am sure it's gonna be an interesting match. The final is scheduled to take place at 5pm US Eastern Time (11pm Cairo Local Time).

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Flavor of the Week - Saturday September 6th

Okay so the action at the US Open has been canceled for today and the Nadal-Murray semifinal will resume tomorrow (Sunday) at 4pm US Eastern Time (10pm Cairo Time). The Serena-Jankovic final is scheduled to kick off tomorrow at 9pm US Eastern Time.

Since there's no more tennis to watch today, I figured I'd write a "Flavor of the Week" which I know I haven't done in months. So here's what I've been watching/listening this summer:

Movies

The best movie I've seen all summer - actually all year - is a biography masterpiece called Into the Wild. It is based on the non-fiction book carrying the same name which depicts the life of Christopher McCandless, written by Jon Krakauer.

This movie has so many aspects to it that are just damn RIGHT. For starters, the director is Sean Penn, who did such an amazing job with this movie that I actually cried, and I NEVER cry in movies. The second thing is that the soundtrack was done by Pearl Jam frontman, Eddie Veder, who also outdid himself. Emile Hirsch plays Christopher McCandless and you've got to give credit for Penn in making that perfect choice for the character. Vince Vaughn and Catherine Keener each have small but imperative roles in the movie while a heartbroken Marcia Gay Harden plays McCandless' mother.

The movie is about a kid who graduates from University and hitch-hikes his way to Alaska after burning the money in his pockets, giving his trust fund to charity and abandoning his car to go and live in the wild. The boy tries to strip himself from all that is material and tries to search for some value and meaning in the solitude of the wilderness, breaking his parents' hearts in the process and learning the hard way that no matter how harsh and superficial life can be, you need people around you to experience the beauty of it with you.

This movie is beyond a must-see. I haven't read the book but am sure it is brilliant.

Music

Just in case you guys haven't listened to it yet, the new Coldplay album is really good. Viva La Vida is awesome and I've been listening to it daily all summer.

TV

Last week, Prison Break, Gossip Girl and One Tree Hill all premiered their new seasons and I must holler a RESPECT to the creators of Prison Break cuz the double-episode premiere was amazing. They didn't dwell on the past and they wrapped up anything from the old seasons pretty quick and started a whole new twist for the 4th season in a very smart and quick way. I can't wait to see what's next, and of course... Welcome back Sarah Tancredi :)

For all those Entourage fans who have been waiting for over a year, Entourage Season 5 is finally starting on Sunday. Did anyone catch the cast of Entourage at the US Open??!?! It was pretty cool. They even stepped on court at Arthur Ashe Stadium and hit a few balls. Vince, Ari and Turtle were the ones who were there.

Anyways, that's it for now... Hope you enjoy the movie :)

Cheers!!

Trash Talk: Djokovic Hits Back at Andy On Court

The smack talk continues at the US Open as Novak Djokovic won himself a spot in the semis before he went on to lose the crowd in his post-match on-court interview.

The third-seeded Serb responded to the remarks made by his quarterfinal opponent, Andy Roddick, concerning his injuries that Roddick and Robredo insinuated were not very genuine. The crowd unfortunately were not very pleased by the Djoker's reaction and he was booed off the court.

Here's the on court interview with Djokovic after his victory:



Both players later explained in their post-match press conferences that it's not that big of a deal though and that it'll all blow over, but still; don't you think the players are getting crankier?!?!

Okay so here's what Nole had to say about it in his press conference:

"I don't think it was intentional, okay. He made a joke and it was a misunderstanding, so I don't blame it on him. Okay. I did react on the court. Maybe I reacted. Maybe I exaggerated and reacted bad in that moment. No, I apologize if I reacted like that. But this was just impulsive, you know."

And when asked about Robredo's comments here's what he said:

"Yeah, look, Robredo had the right to say something like that if he lost, you know. Everybody has right to complain and right to say. I respect everybody's thoughts and everybody's opinion.

I never wanted to disrespect anybody. As I said, if I made ‑‑ if I exaggerated on the court today and I made maybe a mistake saying that in front of 20,000 people, you know, in his city and his favorite tournament, okay, I do apologize, but it was ‑‑ he was not bad intentions. So I just hope people understand."


So I guess it started off with both players mocking one another and sharing laughs on court on the Arthur Ashe Kids' Day, before Roddick took it a step further making fun of Nole's "injuries" in a press conference, which led to Nole taking it personally and reacting like a pissed off girlfriend in front of a huge crowd consisting mainly of Roddick fans, and then finally Roddick saying he was just kidding and that Nole should take it like a man, which from the Nole quotes above I think it's safe to say that he finally started to act like one!

Finally some action at the Open besides the tennis :)

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Trash Talk: Robredo and Roddick Double-Team Djoko, Murray Not a Huge Fan of Del Potro

"... Novak was doing the show, that he was ‑‑ that he couldn't run..."

"I have pain, as well. I was running like hell and my feet were burning but I say nothing, no? I think that if you're not fit enough, then don't play.

But after every time he was asking for a trainer, he was running like hell and he was making the shot, but he does what he does a lot of times.

So did I trust him? No. No. I think he took his time because he did it because he was a little bit more tired and that's a part of the game. It help him a lot."

Tommy Robredo could not be more blatant about his annoyance towards the medical breaks Djokovic took during their grueling five-set match in the US Open fourth round action Tuesday night. Djokovic finally prevailed 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, 5-7, 6-3 to book himself a spot in the quarters.

From the looks of it, I think Robredo needed one or two medical breaks himself:

*************************
Andy Roddick joined Robredo in his accusations but he kind of put it in a humorous way in his press conference:

Q. When asked about his injuries today, mentioning the right ankle as opposed to the left ankle, the other day ‑‑

ANDY RODDICK: Isn't it both of them? And a back and a hip?

Q. And when he said there are too many to count.

ANDY RODDICK: And a cramp.

Q. Do you get the sense right now that he is...

ANDY RODDICK: Bird flu.

Q. Lot of things. Beijing hangover.

ANDY RODDICK: Yeah.

Q. He's got pretty long list of illness.

ANDY RODDICK: Anthrax. SARS. Common cough and cold.

Q. Got a lot of things going on with him.

ANDY RODDICK: Sure.

Q. Do you think he's bluffing?

ANDY RODDICK: No, I mean, I'm sure ‑‑

Q. The way you're saying it, almost means you feel like...

ANDY RODDICK: No, if it's there, it's there. There's just a lot. You know, he's either quick to call a trainer or he's the most courageous guy of all time. I think it's up for you guys to decide.

*************************
Meanwhile, the fans are anticipating the quarterfinal showdown between Andy Murray (who demolished world number 10, Stanislas Wawrinka) and Juan Martin Del Potro (who is on a 4 tournament winning streak) but not for the obvious reason.

It seems that a fallout occurred between the two back in May when Murray accused the Argentine of insulting his mother, Judy. According the timesonline.co.uk the bookies are actually offering odds of 50-1 that the two will pick up a fight during their match. I think I can safely bet on those odds, don't you think?!?! :)

Murray's comment on the matter was:

"I’ve known him since we were really young and the fact we haven’t talked since May doesn’t bother me... I wasn’t great friends with him before. I don’t need to be friends with him now."