Friday, February 27, 2009

Nadal Attends Real-Liverpool Match, Casillas Compares Real-Barca Rivalry to Federer-Nadal

World number 1, Rafael Nadal, attended the Real Madrid - Liverpool 1st leg match in the Champions League last 16 on Wednesday. Unfortunately for Nadal, his favorite team in Spain lost at home to Liverpool 0-1, with a late Yossie Benayoun header.

Nadal's advice to the team of course, was to remain positive and fight back; something the Spaniard knows how to do very well.

“The result wasn’t what the team wanted, however, they have to keep being positive... In their next match they have to go out there and believe in victory. They have to go to Liverpool with their hearts full," said Nadal.

“I’m simply one more fan, but I have to say that I saw them playing often from the back, it was real hard for them to come forward. It’s a pity that with the one chance (Liverpool) had, they scored."




In the Spanish Primera Liga, Real Madrid have managed to narrow the gap between them and 1st-placed Barca to only 7 points, and their Captain, Iker Casillas, who is a good friend of Nadal's, recently compared his team's rivalry with Barcelona at the top of the league, to the rivalry between Nadal and Roger Federer.

"Back in the day, Nadal saw Federer as the best, and now he is at the top. We are up against a Barcelona side that plays very good football, but I believe that a season ago we were the best side in the league," Casillas told Marca.

"We are doing well or very well...but another team are phenomenal. Right now we are feeling good [after cutting the gap], but next week we have another opponent and another difficult battle."

Is it me or is Casillas comparing Real Madrid to Federer and Barca to Nadal?!?! Does this mean he wants Federer to reclaim his position as number 1 just like he wishes his own team could overtake Barca??!?! Well that's not very supportive to his good friend Rafa don't you think?!?!?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

COMEDY SPOTS: Hugh Jackman Oscar Night Quotes

I was really surprised by Hugh Jackman in the Oscars last night. People's Sexiest Man Alive was unexpectedly funny and I think he did a pretty good job hosting the event. After last night, I believe that guy can do pretty much everything. Who knew Wolverine could sing and dance?!?! Here are some of my favorite quotes from the evening's host:

"The Academy loves to salute range... Salute Kate Winslet, an English actress playing a German - nominated. Robert Downey JR, an American actor playing an Australian actor playing an African American - nominated. Whereas me, I'm an Australian who played an Australian in a film called Australia - hosting!"
Hugh Jackman's opening joke of the night.

“Everything is being down-sized because of the recession. Next year i’ll be starring in a movie called New Zealand."

“Say whatever you like because we’re on a seven-second delay but if you win we switch to twenty.”
Jackman to the famously foul-mouthed Mickey Rourke.

“Here’s Brad and Angelina. I don’t have a joke for them, I’m just contractually obliged to mention them at least five times in the show.”

And my favorite one from Jackman was:

"Fifteen career Oscar nominations. That's a record! I hate to say it but when someone puts up numbers like that, it's just hard not to think steroids."
Hugh Jackman on Meryl Streep's record 15 nominations at the Oscars.

Here's a video of Jackman's opening number at the Oscars:

Tricky Opener For Safin Against Gasquet In Dubai

Five of the top seven seeds in Dubai have withdrawn, including Nadal, Federer and the no longer defending champion, Roddick; yet still Marat Safin managed to get himself a crappy draw as he faces Richard Gasquet in the first round on Tuesday, with a potential quarterfinal match against 2nd-seed, Andy Murray.

The Russian, who received a wildcard invitation to the tournament, is seeded 8th this week, and is ranked a single spot ahead of Gasquet, who has slipped to number 26 in the world rankings.

Safin owns a 3-1 head-to-head record over Gasquet, however last time the two have faced off was back in 2006.

Former world number 1, Safin, who is believed to be playing his final season, has done nothing special so far this year. He reached the 3rd round at the Aussie Open before Federer ousted him in straights, and he crashed out of the first round in Marseille last week, to Arnaud Clement.

Gasquet on the other hand, has shown some signs of his majestic form that saw him reach a career-high of number 7 in the world rankings 2 years ago, as he reached the semifinals in both Sydney and Brisbane earlier this year, before he made it to the 3rd round at the Australian Open, where he suffered a tight defeat to Fernando Gonzalez, losing 10-12 in the 5th set.

The Frenchman however is yet to make a statement since Melbourne and his chances against Safin might not be too great especially after he stumbled out of the first round in Rotterdam and withdrew from Marseille last week, with a shoulder injury.

Top-seed, Novak Djokovic, will also be in action on Tuesday with an opening round match against Flavio Cipolla.

Murray, survived a test on Monday against 75th-ranked Sergiy Stakhovsky, who oddly retired from the match while trailing 6-7, 6-3, 5-3, and 0-30 on his own serve. I don't get why he would retire when there could have only been 2 more points left in the match. WEIRD??!?! The Scot rightfully commented on Stakhovsky's retirement by saying:

“I was surprised... It wasn’t like there was a long time to go in the match. If he can’t continue, he can’t continue, but the first point of that game he was sliding to the backhand on the court.

His ankle is obviously bad for him to stop, but I would obviously rather have finished the match. He hit two 190 kph serves to start the game so he was still serving okay. It seemed the movement to his forehand is where he was struggling. But I’ve been in that position before and I always try to finish the match.”


Looks like Djokovic has inspired some of those up-and-comers, don't you think?!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Video: Injured Nadal Loses To Murray In Rotterdam Final (Players' Post-Match Comments)

Second seed Andy Murray defeated top seed, Rafael Nadal, 6-3, 4-6, 6-0, in the Rotterdam final on Sunday. Nadal seemed to have been suffering from a knee injury, but will hopefully be fit to play in Dubai in a week's time.



Peer Denied A Visa To The UAE Is Not Surprising

I just wanted to comment about the incident that has been reported today in every news outlet about Israeli player, Shahar Peer, who was denied a visa to the United Arab Emirates, where she was supposed to participate in the Dubai Tennis Championships.

The outrage expressed by many towards what happened is not surprising but I would like to express my opinion just like everybody else has.

It is a beautiful notion to believe that sport can bring people together, uniting nations regardless of any political differences or events happening around the world, but unfortunately, there are things that are just bigger than sport, bigger than all of us and bigger than a player’s right to play in a tennis tournament she has qualified for because of her ranking.

The inhumane happenings that have occurred in Gaza last month are not something to be overlooked here, and the reason Peer has been denied entry to the UAE is because of country policy that is present for a very good reason.

We are all subject to circumstance, and circumstances right now simply do not allow for any exceptions, be it tennis or anything else, just like the Israelis made no exceptions when it came to killing mothers and children in Gaza.

I don’t understand why people are surprised, and why people are making a huge deal out of this. This is not a Grand Slam event and to be honest, I don’t get why Peer would wanna be in an Arab country in the first place. It is true that she was allowed to play in Qatar last year, but look what happened between then and now?!?! 1300 people were slaughtered in 3 weeks!!!

Every country has its own policy on whom to allow and whom to reject and numerous controversial incidents have taken place around the world. In most cases it’s not fair to the individuals themselves but let’s face it, the UAE has this policy for a very good reason. It’s not like the USA denying Amy Winehouse a visa to attend the Grammy’s a week after she was in rehab or like China preferring not to have Darfur activists (who were in fact former Olympic medalists) in town during the Olympics. This is the UAE following a policy to support Palestine in a situation that is far from being resolved.

And let’s face it, Arabs are not welcomed all around the world with arms wide open. For most Arabs, to get a visa (regardless the purpose of the visit be it business or study or pleasure) to a European country for example, it is actually an insanely meticulous and annoying process which more times than one could believe, ends with a visa application rejection. That’s just the way things happen, and the EU has its own reasons for rejecting those applications, and if certain circumstances changed, then such matters won’t be an issue anymore.

Peer’s case is not in the hands of the WTA officials or the Dubai tournament directors, it is in the hands of the country leaders and this could happen in any other country under similar circumstances.

I don’t think the tournament should be canceled because of this. It is a player’s responsibility to get the visa to enter the country where a tournament she wishes to participate in takes place; and if the player’s visa gets rejected then that’s life. She can take it up with the WTA to try and protect her ranking (if it will be affected) and should choose to play somewhere else.

I wish things were different and that everyone could be welcome everywhere, but sadly this is not the case in several places around the world, not just with Israelis in Dubai.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Rotterdam Update: Rafa Overcomes Tsonga, Ancic Still On Track With His Comeback


World number 1, Rafael Nadal, endured another three-set encounter in Rotterdam as he outlasted recently crowned Johannesburg champion, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, 6-4, 6-7, 6-4, in the quarterfinals on Friday. After being stretched to 3 sets in his previous two matches against, 17-year-old Grigor Dimitrov and Simone Bolelli, the top seed said that Friday's battle against Tsonga, was his best of the week:

"This was definitely my best match of the week... Tsonga just came from winning a tournament and was extremely tough. This was a very important win for me. I'm so glad to be in my first semi-final here."

Poor Jo!! Nadal does have that effect on people sometimes!!

Meanwhile, Mario Ancic continued his good form this week in the Netherlands, by following his earlier wins over Rainer Schuettler and 4th-seed, Gilles Simon, with a victory over Mikhail Youzhny in the quarters on Friday.

Ancic who has had a terrible 2 year span filled with illnesses and injuries is searching for his best form that saw him reach a career-high of number 7 in the world rankings, back in 2006.

"I really believe that it's all behind me now. It's now up to the hard work and the comeback. I'm full of confidence."

It's nice to know that the Croat, who reached the Zagreb final last week, is full of confidence especially that his next opponent is none other than second seed, Andy Murray, who got a free pass to the semis when Marc Gicquel retired during the 3rd set of their quarterfinal match on Friday.

The last match of the day saw the Slider-Man, Gael Monfils, ease past his French countryman, Julien Benneteau, 7-5, 6-1, to set up a semifinal against Nadal. Monfils, who is currently enjoying a career-best of # 12 in the rankings, should be looking forward to this match particularly after he managed to upset Nadal out of the Doha semifinals earlier this year. That was Monfils' first victory over Nadal in 4 attempts.

Am rooting for a Rafa-Ancic final... What do you think?!?!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Quote of the Day - Nadal Says Federer Is The Best... AGAIN!

Photo via Getty Images

"I'm getting tired of this question... When someone has 13 Grand Slams and 14 Masters titles, there is no discussion about who is the best."
Rafael Nadal when asked who he thinks is the best player in the world.


The world number 1, who opens his Rotterdam singles campaign against Simone Bolleli on Wednesday, remains adamant about where he stands on the "best player in the world" issue.

He keeps saying it over and over again and even his coach said it; so I don't know when reporters will stop asking him this question. If they're waiting for Rafa to budge on this, well they're wrong. Whether the Spaniard is genuinely convinced that Federer is better or whether he thinks it's just better to say that to the press, end result Rafa is not Djokovic. He won't be provoked into saying some cocky comment about how he's better than everybody else.

Here's part of Rafa's press conference after his doubles loss in Rotterdam on Monday:

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Tough Draw For Nadal in Rotterdam

World number 1, Rafael Nadal, will return to the tour this week at the ATP 500 tournament in Rotterdam, after his short break following his Australian Open triumph.

The top seeded Spaniard will compete in both singles and doubles (partnering Ignacio Coll-Riudavets), and will be looking to improve on his performance in Rotterdam last year, when he lost in the second round to Andreas Seppi. In fact let's hope the tournament doesn't suffer a similar bizarre scenario like last year, when all seeds crashed out before the quarterfinals.

Nadal will open his singles campaign on Wednesday against Italian hopeful, Simone Bolleli. The draw has not been very kind to Nadal, who could possibly face Tomas Berdych in the second round, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the quarters, and Gael Monfils (5th seed) or Nikolay Davydenko (3rd seed) in the semis.

Berdych has always been a tough opponent for Nadal, especially on hard courts, and Monfils has eliminated Nadal from the Doha quarters earlier this year.

The other side of the draw features second seed, Andy Murray, who faces former top 5 player, Ivan Ljubicic in the 1st round. Also in that half of the draw are Gilles Simon (4th seed) and David Ferrer (6th seed).

Who else should we watch out for?!?!

Well Mario Ancic is trying to make a comeback and it's not going so bad for him as he reached the final in Zagreb but lost to Marin Cilic in the final today (Sunday). There's also the serving machine, Ivo Karlovic, and the man with the beautiful backhand, Richard Gasquet, whose season so far includes 2 semifinal appearances in Brisbane and Sydney, and his 3rd round Australian Open 5-set loss to Fernando Gonzalez is considered one of the best matches so far this year.

Who do you think will do well this week in Rotterdam??! You can see the full draw here...

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

In the News: Nadal Defends Phelps

For those of you who don't know, 14-time Olympic Gold medalist, Michael Phelps, had a photo of him smoking "something" from a bong, published 2 days ago by British publication, News of the World. Phelps admitted it was him in the photo (he obviously needs to listen to Shaggy's song, the answer is always "wasn't me") which was supposedly taken of him during a party at University of South Carolina last November, but did not admit to smoking marijuana, nor did he say whether there was any marijuana in the pipe.

The article in News of the World is really annoying and the "witnesses" to the incident kept going on and on about how Phelps was partying like crazy and how he knew exactly what to do with the bong (like it's rocket science or something).

I am totally against smoking pot and I think it's retarded, but if a 23-year-old swimming genius who had just won his country 8 Gold medals at the Olympics decided to party, it shouldn't be such a huge deal. The guy spends most of his life training, if he needs a break, he sure deserves one, he's just not that smart cuz he got photographed.

It's true that professional athletes are considered role models but people make mistakes cuz they're human and a 23-year-old world swimmer - whose achievements somehow made him seem superhuman - is definitely prone to choosing "questionable" methods to blow off steam and take a break from the pool. Plus if parents can't convince their kids not to smoke pot then it's definitely not Phelps' fault.

The American, who had never failed a single drug test before, later apologized to everybody saying:

“I engaged in behaviour which was regrettable and demonstrated bad judgement... I’m 23 years old and despite the successes I’ve had in the pool, I acted in a youthful and inappropriate way, not in a manner people have come to expect from me. For this, I am sorry. I promise my fans and the public it will not happen again.”

On Monday, freshly crowned Rafael Nadal, decided to stick up for Phelps and said:

"It does not portray the best possible image, but everyone can have a slip-up. In the end sportsmen are just not machines. Everyone is free to do whatever they want."

"He has been on holiday for some time... He has attained all his goals and he is taking a sabbatical leave and he is totally free to be able to do it. He will have plenty of time to get back and prepare for the coming Games." (Source: earthtimes.org)

I actually agree with Rafa. We're not condoning smoking pot, but people smoke pot everyday, they just haven't done anything with their lives worth remembering so that anyone would care that they're actually smoking. But Phelps is one of the best athletes in the world, which somehow makes him eligible to scrutiny from the world, cuz he acted like a silly kid.

It's definitely controversial, and I realize many people will criticize Nadal himself for defending his fellow Olympic champion, but all am saying is the guy is only human and he's brilliant at what he does. Let's just leave it at that.

More Weird Stuff in the News

Speaking of retarded behavior, check out Croatian footballer (soccer player), Dino Drpic, who decided to have sex with his playboy model wife in the middle of the field at the Maksimir Stadium, at the center spot, under floodlights !!!

You can read the full article here at Goal.com (courtesy of Tito).

Flavor of the Week - Tuesday February 3rd

Movies

Okay the Oscar season is in full swing and Oscar night is only 3 weeks away, so I decided to watch all the movies that are nominated so I can have an idea what’s going on come February 22nd. I know I know, I’ve got too much time on my hands, but I’m an insomniac, there’s a reason I have time :)

Anyways, so I haven’t seen all the movies yet of course, but the second I watched Slumdog Millionaire I realized I had to recommend it to everyone I know.

So here it is… Everybody, you gotta watch Slumdog Millionaire!!! The movie is nominated for best picture, best directing and a whole bunch of other awards for the sound and cinematography and stuff. I don’t want to give away anything about the movie but the idea is brilliant and it is very very nicely done! The way the storyline takes you back and forth and relates events to each other is just genius.

All am gonna say about the story is probably what everyone knows anyway which is that it’s about an 18-year-old boy who won a shitload of money on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire (the Indian version of the show in India) and has been accused of cheating.

The story is very original and the directing, the soundtrack and the acting are all awesome. So make sure you all check out the movie soon.

Music

I’ve been listening to the song Trouble is a Friend by Lenka a lot recently. I remembered it from a Grey’s Anatomy episode earlier this season and I’ve been listening to it ever since. It’s nice and light despite the lyrics telling everyone that there’s no escape from trouble.

Been also listening to a lot of Feist lately. A friend of mine told me about Feist in the summer (thank you Bort) but I only recently checked out her songs. She’s most known for “1234” which was in one of the Apple ads, but she has other good tracks, so check em out.

For the soft rockers out there, Manchester Orchestra are not bad. “I Can Feel a Hot One” is my favorite so far, but they have other good tracks as well.

TV

Okay Lost is back, and feel free to admit that you don’t really understand much of what’s going on. I’ll talk about Lost in more detail later on in a different post, since this one is mostly about recommendations.

If you’re a sports buff and love movies and shows that revolve around sports then I guess you know about Friday Night Lights. I only started watching it recently and I like it so far. It revolves around a high school football team in a fictional town in Texas. It is currently in its third season and airs on NBC on Wednesdays. The series is based on the book and movie Friday Night.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Australian Open: Nadal's Victory Blog Post From Melbourne

Rafa says goodbye to his readers in his final blog post from Melbourne, which he leaves a very very happy man. Here's what the Australian Open champion had to say:

Hello Everyone!

Where should I begin… I’VE WON THE AUSTRALIAN OPEN! YES!

When I finally celebrated my last point I felt something I’ve never felt before, it was a more peaceful victory compared to the one in Roland Garros and Wimbledon but at the same time, it was come completed. And I know why it was that way.

I grew up as a clay-courter and my style of game adapted to that: I learned to push my opponents out of the court and that made me wear out my physic with some much running around and long rallies.

But my uncle Tony and I knew that my game had to have more dimensions to it so that I could have the same kind of results on other surfaces. I had to change my game radically, more direct and aggressive. I had to improve my service as well and control my game when going up to the net. Make my shots flatter and my volley more accurate.

We had lots of work ahead of us for sure.

Every year we’ve had improve my game on hard courts and even though I bit Djoko in the final of the Olympic games (okay he either means Djoko in the semis or Gonzo in the final but anyways), this final against Roger Federer, (who has recuperated his form) was going to be a test of fire for me.

But we made it!

All the hard work, the dedication I put into it was well worth it. And that is what sport is really about. A victory tastes amazing only if it is the result of hard work.

THANK YOU ALL OF ALL OF YOUR SUPPORT!

Rafa

Blog post from rafaelnadal.com

Australian Open: Nadal-Federer Final Video Highlights



Here's Rafa's post-match interview with ESPN:

Australian Open: Federer Suffers Heartbreaking Loss


"I love this game. It means the world to me, so it hurts when you lose."

".. in the first moment you're disappointed, you're shocked, you're sad, you know, then all of a sudden it overwhelms you. The problem is you can't go in the locker room and just take it easy and take a cold shower. You can't. You know, you're stuck out there. It's the worst feeling, you know. So, I don't know, it's rough."


Federer suffered a heartbreaking 7-5, 3-6, 7-6, 3-6, 6-2 loss to world number 1, Rafael Nadal, in the Australian Open final on Sunday.

The Swiss was overwhelmed after his defeat and couldn't compose himself in front of the crowds during the trophy ceremony. The weeping Federer received a several-minute standing ovation and applause from the crowd while he tried to regain composure, and eventually mustered the courage to say a few congratulatory words to Rafa.

I have never felt this sorry for Federer in my life, not even after the Wimbledon final (come on, he had won the previous 5 Wimbledons, denying him the 6th was far from harsh). But today's trophy ceremony was too emotional for everyone watching. Check it out:



More to come about the match... Stay tuned!

Australian Open: Nadal Grabs First Aussie Title (Photos)








Images via AustralianOpen.com and Eurosport.com

Australian Open: Nadal-Federer Final Preview (Video)

Mats Wilander spoke to Eurosport ahead of Sunday's Nadal-Federer Australian Open final and he said:

"It's unbelievable that we get to see them play a Grand Slam final on a hard court."

"Wimbledon finals have been great, French Open finals have not been great. Could this be as one-sided in Federer's favor as it is on clay for Nadal? It's possible!"


The Swedish legend, a winner of the Aussie Open 3 times himself, asked the million dollar question: what should we expect from those two rivals in a Grand Slam final on a hardcourt?

The stats above are all in Nadal's favor, whether it's the overall head-to-head record, or their previous meetings in Majors, the Spaniard has a lead over Federer when it comes to their one-on-one meetings. But let's not forget, Federer has won 3 previous Australian Open titles, and 5 US Open titles... How many of those does Nadal have?!?! ZERO! Then again, Federer has never faced Rafa in any of those Major hardcourt finals. So the response to the question is not simple.

Wilander pointed out the fact that both players have had very similar paths to the Australian Open final this year. They both had one big match where they were tested, Berdych for Federer and Verdasco for Nadal, but other than that, they pretty much breezed through their matches.

I mostly agree with Wilander on his take on Nadal's defensive approach against Verdasco. Nadal was way behind the baseline during his epic semifinal clash with Verdasco, who was extremely aggressive and took the initiative in most points. If Nadal does the same with Federer, I think it could mean a straight sets win for the Swiss. Nadal must be more aggressive against Federer, and am sure the world number 1 knows it, but let's hope it will be possible for Nadal to execute an attacking approach against someone as dangerous as Federer.

Here is the full interview with Wilander:





Wilander is right; when it comes to Nadal and Federer, it truly is so much more than the tennis. With their history, their rivalry, their separate agendas - Fed chasing a 14th Slam to equal Sampras' record, Nadal chasing a first hardcourt Slam - and their greatness; these two have something really special and "grand" about them that makes their final encounters what they are... Something we all eagerly anticipate 4 times a year, and eventually live to respect and remember forever. I hope Sunday's final lives up to all our expectations.

The match starts at 7:30pm Melbourne time, 10:30 am Cairo time.