Pulp Fiction

A traveller\’s diary through journey of life…

The man who makes Federer sweat

Posted by nishitdesai on March 23, 2007


Rarely in the world of tennis, fans witness a scene which they witnessed on March 11, 2007. A rookie was consoling the mighty federer on his straight set defeat and halted his career-best winning streak of 41 matches. When Indian fans woke up the next morning, couldn’t believe what their eyes were seeing. The man had finally fallen, the frontier had been conquered and tennis suddenly seemed competitive all again. Another man to challenge the king’s crown has arrived. It’s Guillermo Canas.

When Roger Federer entered Indian Wells Masters, aka Pacific Life Open, he was riding high on confidence. He was three-times defending champion. Was riding high on his win at year-opening Australian open and later on Dubai open, where he regained his crown. He was undefeated in 2007, in fact he was undefeated since August 2006 and was on verge of breaking all-time best streak of 46 wins. All he needed was to win the title, which owing to aforementioned reasons didn’t look unexpected. What was unexpected was what actually happened on the court. When Roger Federer launched his campaign he was face-to-face with Guillermo Canas and like the case generally is, he was a bit rusty when he started and before he could get the hold back, all was lost . Canas had handed him first round, straight set defeat of 7-5 6-2. Owing to non-transmission of initial rounds in India, I couldn’t watch the match, but probably Mirka didn’t either. It was supposed to be cake-walk, but my viewer friends say it definitely wasn’t quite Federer-esque performance, but no excuses there.

Fast-forward two weeks. March 28, 2007. Federer is on his course to defend his title at Miami Masters, aka Sony Ericsson Open. 4th round. Roger Federer v/s Guillermo Canas. Life hasn’t been hard for Federer till now cruising into fourth round. Guilldermo Canas, after commanding performance in qualifying rounds have defeated likes of Tim Henman, Juan Carlos Ferrero and Richard Gasquet to setup the clash with the king. Federer is visibly nervous, commits abundant unforced errors, although managing to break back the lost serve, loses the tie-breaker handing over the first set to Canas 7-6. Second set. Federer is all-charged up and summons up all his talent and athletics to win the set 6-2. Game moves on to third set. Federer manages early break 2-0 and has chance of another break and achieving almost invincible double break of the set, but that’s when Canas holds his nerve and serve too. Come next game and Canas earns his break back. Finally, in the nerve-wrenching tie-breaker it was Canas who prevailed and won the clash 7-6(2) 6-2 7-6(5).

When I say this man is danger to the crown, it may be the case of fools-rush-in, but you will agree with me when you see the game of this man. He has the nerve, power and gamut of shots to beat Federer. He is as athletic in court as much as Federer and Nadal are.Today’s match is live proof of that. He beat Federer when Federer came charging down to the net. In the win of Canas, contribution of Federer’s unforced errors (51 as opposed to 21 of Canas) can’t be ignored, but if I am allowed to put in my $0.02, I advise all the opponents of Federer to watch the video-tape of this match. That’s the attitude, power and nerve you need to beat Federer. I couldn’t have waited more for the clay season. It’s going to be three-way battle between ever-reigning king of clay, Rafael Nadal, mighty king Roger Federer and a new force to be reckoned with Guillermo Canas. Clay season begins with Monte Carlo Masters on April 16, where Nadal is defending champion and Federer was finalist.

PS:- For Trivia fans, Argentian Guillermo Vilas holds record the longest streak in tennis open era with 46 consecutive wins, it was his namesake and compatriot who made that record still standing.

(cross-posted to DesiCritics)

Posted in Roger Federer, Tennis | 1 Comment »

Give me a Federer match, any day

Posted by nishitdesai on February 9, 2007

This is my first post to Desicritics, where from now on, I’ll be a regular contributor.

Few days ago Emma complained that Federer is getting too dominant for the sport to be interesting. I disagree, rather I strongly disagree.

Tennis, or for that matter any sport, is not just about feeling the drama or watching on edge of your seat. It’s about appreciating the geniuses of the game. It’s about watching something you thought to be impossible. It’s as much about dominance as much it’s about last minute thriller.

If you have played even a little bit of tennis, you would appreciate what Federer has pulled off in front of your eyes. You will literally drop your jaw if you saw a winner by Federer which was supposed to be other way around. Andy Roddick hits a powerful forehand and left corner of Federer’s court and rushes to the net, just in case a loose reply comes. And what does he get? Federer moves to his ad (=left) side and forces a backhand half-volley, Roddick turns into a silent spectator and can’t do anything but just watch the ball pass by him and lo! there is a cross-court backhand winner. Sheer frustration for Roddick and murmurs something about Roger having answer to every shot. That’s pretty much same for Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon and James Blake at the Masters cup. They don’t set a foot wrong and try to resist with the best they have and before they even understand what’s going on they are holding runners up trophy.

Roger Federer has peculiar kinesthesia about his game, probably that has got something to do with his amazing skills, as a kid, in soccer, which he gave up in teenage for tennis. Even when he is rushing to the ball, he knows where he is going to set his next foot and when and where his racquet will hit the ball. That’s the quality which gives him an extra edge to conjure those “supernatural” shots. If you have seen his cross-court forehands, backhand passing winners, baseline half-volley moonshots or boomerang net half-volley, you precisely know what I am talking about. Roger Federer has brought strategic game playing once again into focus in the age where game was lead by power gamers like Andy Roddick and Lleyton Hewitt. He revived the extreme topspin, the art lost since time of Ivan Lendl, where in extreme topspin gives server the opportunity to serve “shallow”, dipping in after passing the net. Yet another opposing characteristics to the power servers, who being tall try to serve as much deep as they can.

Tennis, as cliché goes, is the game of inches and Roger Federer precisely knows that. When anticipating a return, his opponent is not quite sure if the ball will lend up inside the baseline. Federer, on the other hand, is quite sure of his actions. That’s even more evident and jaw-dropping with recent inclusion of challenge system. When Roger Federer challenges a call, it has to be IN. Even if it’s an ace which is served at more than 200 kmph and has been called out, if Federer challenges it, rest assured, it would have definitely kissed the ‘T’. You are dumbstruck when hawk-eye proves it IN.

As for the drama, although rare in nature, are dramatic enough to be in your memory for long time. Take the final of Rome Masters 2006. Rafael Nadal defeated Roger Federer 6-7, 7-6, 6-4, 2-6, 7-6. That, in my opinion, is the best game Federer has played against Nadal on clay. Yes, the best, and much better than hyped French Open 2006 final. You start nearing edge of your seat, when Federer starts getting little jittery in the middle or towards the end and that’s where the opponent’s hope lies. That’s what makes spectators believe that Federer is still a human.

If you still believe that Federer is too boring, here is good news. Let the March cometh. Let the clay season begin. Let Rome Masters, Hamburg Masters, and French Open cometh. Rafael ‘clayking’ Nadal will once again rise to the top and will look to continue his unbeaten record on clay since, what looks like, forever. He will make the mighty Federer sweat for every single point. Federer will not just get it; he will have to work hard to earn it. Federer will look forward to achieve “The Final Frontier”, the French Open and there you will get the clash of the titans. Hold your breath from March to May and you will see the best tennis you would have ever seen in your lifetime.

Posted in Roger Federer, Tennis | 3 Comments »

Sachin Ton-dulkar

Posted by nishitdesai on February 1, 2007

Sachin Tendulkar once again rose to the occassion and proved his mettle. Sachin whenever criticised nationally/internationally has hit back. He remained silent and rather let his bat do the talking. In what can be considered as reply to the critics, when asked by Arunlal regarding gaining his form, Tendulkar replied, “I have always played the way I wanted to play according to the situation. I have been playing for a long while now,( read… I know what I am doing) so people should appreciate that.” Well, this post is not about that though.

Some people have always criticised Tendulkar for being mean. Once in somewhat controversial statement Ganguly said that “I am not interested in making centuries which doesn’t help team win.” largely hinted at Tendulkar, probably. So here is the point. In 41 centuries Sachin has made India has lost 11 times, which means little more than 75% which by no standard is bad when you have played for 18 years!! Here is a nice piece on Tendulkar’s century that went in vain. Courtesy : Comment section of one of the post on Rediff.

When many people say how many of Sachin’s hundreds have come for a winning cause, I decided to check the Cricinfo stats and here are the results.

Out of the 41 hundreds, 11 hundreds have gone in vain.

I will try to analyse each of them.

1. 137 off 137 balls Vs SriLanka at Delhi in 1996 World Cup.
India scored 271/3 in 50 overs. The only other 50 score was from Azhar. SL made 272 in 48.4 overs. Manoj Prabhakar had 4-0-47-0. He also opened in the innings with Sachin and scored 7 of 36 balls.

2. 100 of 111 Balls Vs Pak in Singapore- Apr 96.
India 226 all out in 47.1 overs, When Sachin was out score was 186/4. Pak had a reduced target of 187 from 33 overs.

3. 110 of 138 Balls vs Sri Lanka In Colombo – Aug 96.
Again India 226 for 5 in 50 overs, Only other 50 score from Azhar (58 of 99 balls).Sachin has also bowled 6-0-29-1, the second most economical bowler and the only wicket taker (SL were 230/1 in 44.2) of the match next to Srinath. 7 bowlers were used by Azhar.

4. 143 of 131 Balls Vs Aus at Sharjah, Apr 1998.
This was chasing under lights. The qualifying match before the final. The whole world knows about this match. Still one interesting point, when Sachin was out India were 242 at 5 at 43 overs. Target was 276 in 46. Still India finished at 250/5 scoring just 8 of the next 3 overs. Great performance by Laxman and Kanithkar indeed.

5. 101 of 140 Balls against SL at Sharjah in Oct 2000.
Indian score was 224/8 in 50 overs. (No other 50 score). SL got 225/5 in 43.5, Sachin also bowled 5-0-22-0, better economy rate than everyone except Srinath.

6. 146 of 153 Balls against Zimbabwe at Jodhpur – December 2000
India made 283 / 8 in 50 overs. Sachin was the last man to be dismissed, score was 235/8 at 46.3 overs when he was out. Agarkar and Zaheer Khan propelled India to 283 in the last 3.3 overs. When Sachin has scored 146 of 235 in 46.3 overs, you can guess what the other 8 great batsmen were doing against the World class Zimbabwe attack. Second Highest scorer was Zaheer Khan with 32.
Zim got 284/9 in 49.5 overs. Agarkar bowled the last over. Sachin also got 6-0-35-1

7. 101 of 129 Balls Vs SA at Johannesburg – Oct 2001
India got 279/5 in 50, Ganguly made 127 of 126 balls. When Ganguly got out, the score was 193-1 in 35.2 overs. Sachin was the last man to get out at 263. SA got 280 in 48.4 overs. Sachin bowled 9-0-51-0, second best in economy rate next only to Agarkar (10-0-45-1)

8. 141 of 135 balls Vs Pak at Rawalpindi, March 2004.
India were chasing 329 and were 317 all out in 48.4 overs, 8 balls to spare. No other batsman made even a 50 (when chasing 300 ) and when Sachin was out, India were 245-4 in 38.4 overs. They needed 85 from 68 balls with 6 wickets in hand.

9. 123 of 130 Balls vs Pak at Ahmedabad, April 2005.
India made 315/6 in 48 overs (48 over match), again no other 50 score. Second highest was Dhoni 47 of 64 balls, (third highest was extras – 39). Pak made 319 in 48 overs. The three quicks (Balaji, Nehra and Khan went for 188 runs from 26 overs between them taking only 2 wickets). Sachin bowled 6-0-36-1. No Harbhajan and no Kumble.

10. 100 of 113 Balls Vs Pak at Peshawar, Feb-2006.
India were 328 all out in 49.4 overs. Pathan and Dhoni got 60 each. When Sachin was out when India were 305-5 in 45 overs. Managed only 23 in the last 5 overs.

Pak scored 311/7 in 47 overs and won by D/L method. Could have been anybody’s game. Sachin did not bowl.

11. 141* of 148 balls vs WI at Malaysia.
India made 309 /5 in 50 overs. Sachin was not out. Pathan was the only other 50 scorer. WI made 141/2 in 20 overs and won by D/L method. Again could have been anybody’s game.

In the other 31 instances India has won 30 times and once there was no result.

Now, please think again when you say sachin’s 100s were in the losing cause and that he is not a team player. It is a fact that for the entire 90’s India played International cricket with 1 player and 10 jokers.

PS:- Please pardon the pun in the title.

Posted in Sachin Tendulkar | 3 Comments »

One Federer in lifetime is enough

Posted by nishitdesai on February 1, 2007

Today’s morning was made cheerful with this excellent piece on Roger Federer in The Hindu.

It is a pleasant coincidence, for spectators, that the three greatest players of the modern era, Borg, Sampras, Federer have followed each other, each a finer model than the next. But so evolved is the Swiss that perhaps a longer wait is now due. Like a few generations.

Then, perhaps when we have gone to the Gods, a player will come, at a time when tennis is bereft (as it was in many ways when Federer came), with a serve a few pounds heavier, a volley a fraction more sure, a backhand a trifle more versatile. And our children, maybe grandchildren, will shake their heads in disbelief.

We will not envy them. One Federer in a lifetime is enough.

Blog is getting too sporty. Well, let the Australian Open feeling sink and it might not rise until World cup or French Open.

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Quiet please, genius at work!!!

Posted by nishitdesai on January 28, 2007


It’s too cliche now to start a post with Federer’s praises, so to the point. In the final showdown, TMF (The Mighty Federer) defeats Fernando Gonzlez in straight sets 7-6(2), 6-4, 6-4 and claims his 10th grandslam title without dropping a single set through out the tournament.

Gonzalez proved a far better opponent than Andy Roddick, but couldn’t match up the might of the king. He showed some sign of defeating the king with his extremely powerful forehand and breaking Federer in the first set, until Federer broke back and ultimately won the set in tiebraker. By the time second set came, Federer had shifted to top gear and Gonzalez had no chance and Federer successfully defended his title without losing a set. It was way back in 1980 when Bjorn Borg won the championship at Wimbledon without dropping a set. But then again, Federer has broken records which were written way back in 1934.

Gonzalez can only cheer up from this match. After defeating likes of Rafael Nadal, Lleyton Hewitt and James Blake, he is sure the man to watch. With the game he has shown today he has mettle to match Nadal to challenge Federer’s throne. So all you second-liners, watch out for this man. He provided toughest challenge to Federer in this australian open 2007.

There is no stopping for this man. No one seems good enough to dethrone him at any place other than clay. After winning 10th title, Roger will yet again claim for the only grand slam that has eluded him, the French Open. If you leave out the French Open, it wasy way back in January 2005 when anyone else than Roger Federer (Marat Safin) won the grand slam. Can he do it this time? or just like Sampras the title will elude him forever? Well, time is not ripe yet for this discussion. As of now it’s just celebration time. Enjoy Federer!!! You rock!!

See you all at Roland Garros…

Posted in Roger Federer, Tennis | 1 Comment »

Never mind, MaSh

Posted by nishitdesai on January 27, 2007


Never mind, MASH, but Serena deserved to win today. It’s just a start for you. There is always next time. Go girl!!!!

Posted in Tennis | 1 Comment »

Munnabhai chale amrika

Posted by nishitdesai on January 26, 2007

Third movie in the fabulous Munna-Circuit series has been announced. It’s called Munnabhai chale amrika. Script isn’t finalized yet but it’s evident from the title that Munna and Circuit will embark on their journey to America and movie is expected to release in 2008. This one will be definitely worth waiting for.

Posted in Bollywood, Movies | 5 Comments »

Absolute Roger

Posted by nishitdesai on January 25, 2007

How dare I? How dare I miss such a game, which BBC’s John Lloyd describes as, “It’s mind-boggling. We’re lucky to be in the presence of pure and utter genius.” and Chris Bailey as “Has Federer played better than this in a Grand Slam match? I don’t think so.”? How dare I miss the set where Andy Roddick angrily muttering to himself – something about Federer having an answer to everything ? but so I did.

This was supposed to be THE game of AO 2007, with Roddick rising to his old form on shoulder of legend Jimmy Connors and defeating Fedex just a fortnight ago, but here we are. Roger Federer sent Andy Roddick packing in just 1 hour 23 minutes in straight sets. 6-4 6-0 6-2. Watching highlights, it makes me feel… don’t know. I am too dumbfounded even to say that I am running out of words. Absolute genius. Roddick can’t believe his eyes either. Every shot he plays, leaves Roddick even more stunned. Is Roger a super human? Every single freakin’ shot in the book he played. Baseline half-volley, passing backhand, passing moonshot backhand, crosscourt forehand. EVERYTHING. Just like Jonas Bjorkman, Roddick might be forced to say “I had the best seat in the stadium.”

While first set was usual affair for Federer. It was second set where Federer showed why he is where he is. Federer made just one unforced error and Roddick in total gathered only six points in the set. Cheered at every point in third set, Roddick was able to hold two serves, but couldn’t stop the roller rolling and massacre was done. If I have to rate the games of Federer I have seen, this would surely land in top 3. A performance which even Roger couldn’t believe, putting him in tie for yet another record of reaching 7 consecutive finals of Grandslam. The record that was written way back in 1933! Phew!! and that puts Federer just one match away from his 10th grandslam title. Way to go Roger. All the best!

PS:- All those like me who are watching matches online, shouldn’t miss live commentary on BBC. Really precious for their comments and one-liners. Like one here for today’s match. Some gems:

Federer 6-4 6-0 3-1 Roddick
Fed is untouchable. He challenges after a serve down the ‘T’ is called wide and is proved right. Don’t think he’s got one wrong all night. Roddick goes to high-five the linesman, appreciating the attempt to help him out.

Federer 6-4 6-0 2-1 Roddick
Someone in the crowd has just told Roddick to “remember the Alamo”. Interesting. Perhaps he does, because he finally gets on the board after 11 games against him. The roar from the crowd is deafening.

“If this match were being played on water, Roddick would be drowning while Federer would be walking on it.”
BBC Sport’s Chris Bailey

Federer 6-4 3-0 Roddick
A miraculous backhand pass off a ferocious Roddick forehand gets Federer off to the perfect start and this is turning into another masterclass from the defending champion. If this was Wimbledon, you’d be hoping for rain to save Roddick.

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Super Maria

Posted by nishitdesai on January 25, 2007

MASH storms to finals!!!

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Watch out Roger…

Posted by nishitdesai on January 23, 2007

In what could be turning point of the grand slam, Andy Roddick crushed his high-school friend Mardy Fish in quarter finals, 6-2 6-2 6-2. Federer, on the other hand, made his way to the semifinal defeating Tomy Robredo 6-3 7-6 7-5.

It wasn’t exactly a comprehensive win. Although Federer managed breaks on Robredo’s serve. Robredo keep hitting back and broke back. Federer was quite vulnurable on his own serve, otherwise known for excellent service game. It was the ability of Federer to stretch himself at crucial points that made him winner.

In semis, in my opinion, Roddick can present a challenge to Federer which only Nadal could in recent past. Andy is a big server and with this vulnurable serve of Federer, he can dig a hole to make a grave. On other hand, after some glitches in initial matches, Roddick is cruising along so convincingly that people have started noticing him and identify him as a man who along with Nadal can present a threat to Fedex’s throne. Jimmy Connors effect has definitely been showing on him and he showed his intensions by defeating the king in Kooyong Classic final to defend his title. So just keep your fingers crossed, you are going to witness biggest match of Australian Open 2007 on Thursday.

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