Saturday, January 19, 2008

The Underdogs Rule the Roost

Aussi Action!

Its been one of the best Australian Open's ever, with some of the most scintillating tennis being displayed on the court. Apart from the usual drama that accompanies any grand slam, this year's open has witnessed the rise of the underdogs, who have stolen the hearts and minds of tennis audiences throughout, even if not always the wins.

I'll start with Philipp Kohlschreiber. His name is so complicated that I had to copy and paste it from the net. But this man rose up to the challenged posed by the immensely powerful Andy Roddcik, in a thrilling edge of the seat five setter that went on for four hours. So who is Philipp Kohlschreiber anyway? Seeded 29th in the Aussi Open and reaching his highest ATP ranking of 27 this year, the man has know to upset veterans in the past including the indestructible David Nalbandian, whom he beat to enter the quarterfinals of the Monte Carlo Masters Tournament. On the Grand Slam circuit he has been rather low profile; the 3rd round of the US Open last year is the furthest he's ever got. However, in the marathon match played on 18th January, he displayed a real talent for the game, finishing off the match in style and finesse. I have been growing disillusioned with Roddick for sometime, though a few years back, I was hopelessly in love with him. Though his service is undoubtedly one of the finest in tennis today (he came up with a whopper against Kohlschreiber, 231 kmph, after having an altercation with the chair umpire about a disputed line call), that's pretty much all there is to him. He has specialised in the art of coming into the net and playing, but on a hard court surface, that's always not the right strategy. Nevertheless, he was unable to produce the aces when most required, in crucial games for the set. Kohlschreiber on the other hand, played beautifully under pressure, with his Fedreresque winners in the last game, including a massive cross-court backhand that seemed to defy all laws of physics. He succeeded in breaking the Roddick serve and winning the match in style. Today unfortunately, he lost to Jarkko Nieminen, being unable to convert 11 set points. But he has earned himself several fans and the name of a force to be reckoned with.

Talking about magical come backs and foiling people in their attempts to convert match points, the man worthy of mention here is Marcos Bagdhatis, who yesterday gave the Aussi hope (and decidedly irritating) Lleyton Hewitt a real scare, before finally losing the match. Bagdhatis is one of the most charming players I have seen on court. His good natured smiles, constant wonder at winners that he produces (always accompanied by a delighted, childlike grin and an improbable shake of the head) and general fooling around, while producing quality tennis make his matches a joy to watch. And yesterday, versus the jumpy and aggressive Hewitt, he was as irrepressible as ever. Imagine being down 5 - 1 in the fourth set, with your opponent serving for the match, and then breaking back, evening the score to 5 all, forcing a tie-break and winning the set! This is what Bagdhatis managed to achieve, with a sprained ankle and a bleeding knee, and having also played a five setter against Marat Safin just earlier in the week. Of course, he was helped quite a bit by a panicking Hewitt's unforced errors, but there's no denying the man's spirit! The fifth set was a bit of a let down after the titanic battle of the 4th set, but Bagdhatis had managed to turn the match into an entertainer of the highest order.

Another match which will probably go down in the annals of tennis history as one of the greatest matches ever played is the epic Roger Fedrer v. Janko Tipsarvich. Fedrer rightly remarked post the match "Sometimes, there should be a draw in tennis as well". Anyone who saw that match will probably agree wholeheartedly, and even despite allegations of "doubting the champion" would feel that may be that was one match that Fedrer should have lost. The tremendous scoreline of 6-7 (5-7) 7-6 (7-1) 5-7 6-1 10-8 itself indicates the titanic nature of Fedrer's struggle against this talented Serbian. Tipsarvic has changed his style somewhat this year, last year, he had piercings almost all over his face. This year however, he turned up in black framed glasses which never seemed to slip off. After watching him play, my sister and me were convinced that those specs had endowed him with super-powers. The sheer power and depth of his ground strokes, with stinging returns required Fedrer to constantly come up with something new. Look at the stats for the match: 39 aces from Fedrer; from a man who doesn't normally rely on his aces to finish a match; from a man pushed absolutely to the limit. In the end, it was Fedrer's championship mentality that allowed him to prevail. In the midst of all the pressure, he was able to come up with a sweeping forehand, when the score was 8 all in the final set, which showed why he is regarded as the emperor of this sport. Tipsarvic soon crumbled under the onslaught of winners, but it was a valiant fight.

A personal heartbreak for me was Sania Mirza's loss to Venus Williams, with an impressive score of 7-6, 6-4. She is a very talented player and certainly has the potential to become one of the biggest hitters in the game. The depth of her ground-strokes even had Venus stumped for a bit. Her only problem is her serving as her first serve percentage is rather low. But I was impressed at the fine tuning of other aspects of her game. I really hope she does well and gives these cricketers a run for their money and respect.

There are several more matches going on and a lot of upsets. Both Kuznetsova and Chakvetadze lost their matches as did Fernando Gonzales while Henin, Sharapova and Serena sailed through. But I am not going to talk about all that here, my sole purpose was to highlight the magnificent role that the so called underdogs have played in this Aussi open. I will however, blog about the finals, or any other matches which deserve a mention (and I'm sure there will be). I want to finish off with an entry by Serena Williams (can you imagine!!) in her blog (it is pink in colour and has butterflies on the borders), which I stumbled across the other day:

Hello Fans,

I can't thank those of Y'all who were with me through Thick and Thin (literally) enough. You know life sometimes come at you strange. One day you are on top of the world, and the next day you are fighting to hold on... physically and mentally. U grasp onto a small string that's holding u between sanity and insanity.... groping in the dark trying to find the light that can lead u out of the dark tunnel.... then and only then u find and realize the true people that are your friends, and the ones that love u dearly... the ones that are willing to be there for you whether or not you are extremely successful, or just normal..... the ones that don't disappear because u don't have the face of stone. So I wanna thank my God Jehovah, my family, and my Fans, my True Fans for being there for me for always supporting me for making me hold on to that string. For making me keep looking for a light at the end of the tunnel.... though at times I almost let go... I have finally found it, I hope everyone enjoys the newly refreshed, newly revived Website.


That is so sweet!! Now who can not support her after that!? Serena, you've got yourself a fan..although in matches versus Henin, I'm afraid my loyalties lie elsewhere!

Facebook - Generally prescribed for Sociopaths?

I just did two interesting quizzes on what kind of a kisser I am and what my kissing style is. I got rave reviews, one said I was a romantic kisser and the other said that I kiss better than 85% of the people in the world. This is pretty interesting because I have never kissed a guy and had to fake some random answers, based on what I thought I would do.

I just did another quiz "What kind of music are you?". And the result was "Dance". I am pretty crushed by this, as you can imagine..I wanted the result to be psychedelic rock, especially since when I did "Which Rock Star are you?", the result was Jimmy Hendrix.

Now I wish there is a quiz which asks the question "Why the BLEEDING HELL do I do these quizzes and add these applications in the first place?!?!"

Facebook applications are probably the most charmingly pointless things on the planet. They are even more addictive and useless than a bag of potato chips after a heavy meal. The quizzes have you hooked, they convince you about various facets of you personality that you never even considered (though I'm still not convinced about this dance music thing), they tell you what kind of eyes you have, which movie star you are, and make you believe that you are secretly a homosexual or have a major anti-social personality disorder. In short, they are probably the most life-changing things you'll ever do. Then there are the Facebook applications, which range from "Oh that's funky" to "brainless, but I'll do it anyway". Through these applications, you can send gifts, send booze (I added all possible applications of this type, people barely send me stuff though), compare your personality traits, throw food, throw pillows, bite people and turn them into zombies, buy fish for an aquarium, buy shoes (virtual of course) and such other things which you can't for the world think of a reason for doing. But you do them anyway. There are slightly more sensible ones such as a virtual bookshelf, the flixster movie application and the i-like music application, and the dog book..all designed for those pompous show offs (like me) who have read/ watched/ heard/ possessed lots of books/ movies/ music/ dogs.

There are downsides also. Firstly, there's the endless business of inviting 20 friends when you add an application. This is very embarrassing especially when you do a quiz like "What is you secret sexual orientation?". I felt pretty shady inviting people to do the "What kind of a kisser are you?" quiz itself, but thent that's all a part of life. You win some (not sure what) and you lose some (your respect and brain among other things). Otherwise, the whole thing is pretty pointless. But the worst about this is, when you add more than 20 people, a red dialog box pops up saying "20 people is the limit" or some similar terse message, like you have committed a crime of breach of privacy or something like that. You feel shocked and cheated, after all, you're inviting people only because these application buggers asked you to do it in the first place. But of course, your dignity is anyway kind of in the mud, so you just click the send button with a feeble, accepting smile. Also, you need a really good net connection to actually send invites to other people. When I try these quizzes in college, the net just protests and stops working in anger and exhaustion. But of course I try again and again, sitting like a zombie in front of the comp to know "What my birth month signifies?".

Thus, days and months pass, and you go on discovering things, sending things, infecting people (this is what the zombie and vampire applications do), writing on people walls, funwalls, super walls, graffitti walls, poking them, x-ing them, hugging them, rating them...and the list goes on for ever. Your eyes grow wide and red-rimmed, you look like you've been infected by all possible infecting applications, you don't mind the fact that you fought with your best friend because you sent bought shoes for her, and you discover old friends online and promptly buy them a round of drinks. What more of a social life do you need?! (unfortunately, thats not a quiz offered)