2009年11月25日 星期三

Only Roger Can Do

Roger Federer reels in Andy Murray to show who is No1

Roger Federer overwhelmed Andy Murray with a stunning display at the O2 Arena. Photograph: Sang Tan/AP

London becomes Roger Federer. Having won the Wimbledon title for six of the last seven years, the Swiss came from a set down in the 02 Arena last night to beat Britain's Andy Murray 3-6, 6-3, 6-1 with a stunning display of sustained attacking tennis over two sets that sucked the lifeblood out of the Scot.

With one round of matches left in Group A of the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals this result did not decide anything, although it did guarantee that Federer, for the fifth time in the last six years, will finish the year as the world's No1. Nobody who watched him pulverise Murray in the final set would have ever been in any doubt.

Murray was inclined to blame himself, notably his serve – and there were eight double faults. "I didn't play well. It happens sometimes. If you miss so many first serves you put yourself under pressure and I made more mistakes than normal." That may be true but it should take nothing away from Federer's excellence. He forced Murray into errors and then went for the clean, swift kill in a manner that has sometimes eluded him in recent times.

The complications of the round-robin format mean that nothing will be decided until the final two matches tomorrow when Murray plays Spain's Fernando Verdasco and Federer meets Argentina's Juan Martín del Potro, the man who defeated him in this year's US Open final and who beat Verdasco 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 in yesterday's opening match.

"If I win in straight sets against Verdasco, then I have a great chance," said Murray. The odds are that Federer and Murray will reach Saturday's semi-finals or at least that is what the supporters would love to happen, preferably with Murray playing Federer again in Sunday's final in front of another capacity crowd of 17,500. That would be dream time in the 02.

Murray, ranked No4 in the world, had played beautifully in the opening set,save for dropping his opening service game. It was immediately apparent that both men were very much up for this encounter, with a real frisson of danger in the air.

The 22-year-old had won six of their previous nine meetings, though the one that had really mattered, the 2008 US Open final, went Federer's way with some ease. Murray was determined to make his point again and opened with such poise and assurance, his backhand continually catching Federer off balance, that it seemed he well might.

All the leading players know that attack is the best form of defence against Murray, who has the guile and steadiness of shot to prolong rallies to breaking point. The first contained 23 strokes, ending with a mis-timed forehand by the Scot. Federer bent low, his concentration deep as Murray served, and secured the break with a roar of delight. It was exactly the opening he would have wanted, only for two forehand errors to set Murray on the road to an immediate break back. A net-cord lefthim with an easy kill and all waslevel again, though this time Federer was winded, his initial confidence punctured.

Sensing the mood switch, and even though the crowd were by no stretch of the imagination partisan, Murray went for the big hammer serve, twice reaching 133 mph. Then in the sixth game, with Federer double faulting for 0-30, Murray took control of the set at 4-2. Or so it seemed. Suddenly it was Murray under pressure and at 15-30 on his second serve a voice from the crowd halted him in mid-service action. He duly double faulted but to his great credit settled himself and managed to hold.

Federer is the great genius of modern tennis, having won every grand slam title and a record 15 in total. Murray barely had time to savour his advantage before the Swiss was at his throat, serving with a verve and accuracy to which Murray could find no response, and hitting winners of stupendous accuracy, freedom, and power.
Murray's hairline cracks widened in the sixth game as Federer broke for 4-2 and levelled the match. Both sets had taken 42 minutes, though it had seemed the Swiss, now in full flow, had won the second much more quickly.

Time was an illusion. Murray briefly managed to cling to the wreckage at the start of the third but all thoughts of stemming Federer's inexorable flow were quickly banished. This was Federer in his pomp.

2009年11月16日 星期一

Roger Federer: confessions of a tennis dad

First he wins it all; now he’s embraced fatherhood. In a rare and revealing interview, the Swiss explains himself

How did Roger Federer become the greatest? He was not born in Sweden (Bjorn Borg). He was not shaped by a dominant parent (Ivan Lendl). He is not fuelled by rage (Jimmy Connors) or tortured by demons (John McEnroe). He has never had sex in Nobu (Boris Becker), smoked crystal meth (Andre Agassi) or been afflicted with odd sleeping habits (Pete Sampras). He is as affable as Tim Henman.

Somebody will have to explain him.

We meet in Basel, the city of his birth. He is looking fit and relaxed after a lengthy break from the most remarkable season of his life. It began in tears at the Australian Open in February, when, six months after losing the greatest final ever seen at Wimbledon, he lost again to Rafael Nadal.

It was his fifth successive defeat to Nadal in a final, and it raised an interesting question: how could he be deemed the best of all time when he might not be the best of his own era? But the obituaries were premature

In April, he married his long-time girlfriend, Mirka Vavrinec, and a month later beat Nadal to win his first tournament of the year at Madrid. In June, he won his first French Open and equalled Sampras’s record of 14 Grand Slam titles. In July, he beat Andy Roddick in an epic final at Wimbledon to surpass the record, and became a father two weeks later when Mirka gave birth to twins. In September, he lost the US Open to Juan Martin Del Potro — his sixth consecutive appearance in the final.

He did not marry a supermodel (Roddick). He does not make fun of his rivals (Novak Djokovic) or pick continually at the crack in his backside (Nadal). He has worse fashion sense than Andy Murray.

How does he explain it?

He begins with a story about a script he received for a commercial for Nike with Tiger Woods in 2007. “We had these different lines,” he explains,” and I was reading through it and said I’d like to take the text where it says, ‘I love winning’. And they said, ‘Well, that works perfectly because Tiger says he hates losing’. So that’s a part of it, I suppose. I feel I’m the ‘love winning’ rather than the ‘hate losing’ type.”

“That’s interesting,” I observe, “because it would be easy to consider them to be the same thing.”

“No, I see it in two different ways, but both work.”

“McEnroe said this about you: ‘One of the important things [Federer] has over everyone, and he has it more than any other player I’ve seen since Connors, is his love for the sport. Real love. He loves to be out there, to be around tennis, everything about it . . . There is none of the angst that I had, no demons playing with him’. Can you explain that love?”

“Well, I’m a positive person, a very positive thinker,” he replies. “That’s why I like the more positive approach of ‘I love winning’, because to hate losing, to me, is a bit negative. I guess my love for the sport started as a little boy watching Becker and Edberg facing off in the Wimbledon final. I dreamed about it but I never thought it would happen to me. It’s so difficult to keep winning and to keep your love for the game because of all the travelling and the sacrifices, but I just said, ‘I’m not going to let that happen to me. I’m going to take a positive approach that travelling is great and that I’m going to see different cultures and places I would never see if I wasn’t a tennis player’. My wife loves it. I love it, so ‘let’s have a good time because it’s not going to last until I am 70’. And so far that approach has worked for me.”

“A lot of the great tennis stars have had some sort of kink. McEnroe referred to it in that quote: they were all driven by demons.”

“Yeah, he did have some,” Federer responds with a laugh.

“You seem so normal but have achieved more.”

“It was difficult in the beginning,” he says. “People were always saying you can’t be a nice guy and be No 1 in the world. And I was like, ‘So, I have to be mean? Is that what it takes?’ We had Connors and McEnroe and Agassi and Sampras and Becker, and they all had something [an edge to them] where you thought, ‘Oh, okay’. And then I came along and it was, ‘This guy speaks three perfect languages! He’s from Switzerland, neutral, he’s nice, polite, he plays a wonderful game . . . what’s wrong with him?’

“It was difficult to handle. People used to say, ‘He’s so talented, it’s too easy for him’. It wasn’t until I showed more grit when the going got tough that they started to respect me. Then it was, ‘Well, this guy is not just a wonderful shotmaker, he can also fight.”

“Can you pinpoint when that was?” I ask.

“The first time I really showed it was against Nadal in Miami [April, 2005]. I was down two sets to love and a break and two break points down to go down a double break. He would have crushed me 6-2 7-6 6-1 but I came back and won 7-6 6-3 6-1. That for me was a key moment. I was able to turn around the match and dominate Rafa in the end.”

“This rivalry with Nadal is fascinating. You sent him a text message later that year to congratulate him when he won in Madrid, and spent time with him this year in Basel. When is the last time you sent him a text?”

“When he got injured this year. He congratulated me for winning Paris, and I sent back a message saying I hoped he was going to be okay when he pulled out of Wimbledon. But we see each other quite often because I’m president of the players’ council and he’s vice-president, so we have a lot of stuff to talk about.”

“I ask because another of the things that surprised McEnroe about you was how friendly you are with your rivals.”


“He hated Lendl and Connors [Federer laughs]. He doesn’t understand how you can be so friendly with Nadal.”


“Has the chemistry between you changed over the last couple of years?”

“No, not really. I’m surprised myself by the degree to which we actually get along because we’ve had a very intense rivalry and you could say he has hurt my career and that I’ve hurt his career, but we’ve actually helped each other become the players we are today. And the rivalry has helped the game. It’s nice that the two greatest players in tennis, or in a sport, actually get along well, because normally there is all this hate and it’s so negative, and I don’t like that. We’ve had enough controversy in recent years with athletes and it’s a welcome change.”

“You don’t like controversy?”

“I don’t mind it. I don’t care. It’s interesting sometimes, but at the end of the day we are also role models for a lot of children, and sometimes that gets forgotten.”

HE HAS pulled up a chair and put his feet up. We are revisiting reflections he has made at different points on his climb to the summit and I want him to join the dots . . .

“You’ve just won your first Wimbledon and have taken a holiday in Sardinia,” I announce. “You’re lying on a beach with the sun beating down, and this is what you say: ‘So now you’re a Wimbledon champion. Nobody can take that away from you’.”

“This was after I won my first one?” he queries.

“Yes, in 2003.”


“A year later, in the autumn of 2004, you return home feeling pretty pleased after winning the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the US Open. You have now won four majors. This is what you say: ‘Everything from now on is only positive. I’ve lived up to all expectations. It’s a huge relief. I can look in the mirror and know I can achieve.”

“Yeah,” he nods.

“Now we jump forward to the Australian Open this year. You’ve won another nine Grand Slams since the ‘relief’ of 2004 but have just lost the final to Nadal, and the quote that jumps out at everybody is: ‘God, this is killing me’.”

“Yes.” He laughs. “Is there a question?”

“The question, I suppose, is your changing mindset as your goals continue to evolve. In 2003, it was almost enough to have won Wimbledon. In 2009, you’ve just failed to win a 14th major and it’s: ‘God, this is killing me’.”

“That quote . . . was seen the wrong way. The thing that was killing me was having to talk while crying. What I meant was, ‘I wish I could stop crying and could talk normally and give Rafa the stage he deserves and not make everybody feel so bad [for me]’. This was upsetting me more than having lost the match. The last thing I wanted was for people to feel bad for me. I played a great tournament. I was happy with the way I played. I wish I would have won, but I had to accept, and accepted without a problem, that Rafa was better on that day. So it was [misinterpreted].

“I left the court and went on holiday and came back and heard all these things like, ‘He started crying . . . He’s gone . . . This is it . . . The downfall’, and I was like, ‘What?’ I have been crying after losing matches since I was five years old, so to have cried after the loss of a Grand Slam final was normal for me, but there was this big fuss that I didn’t understand. It was almost amusing how it was taken out of proportion.”

“You say you love winning, but the flipside of that is that losing hurts. I read a line somewhere that you had not looked at the 2008 Wimbledon final and would never look at it?”


“You won’t look at it again?”

“I’ve seen highlights, but, no . . . not because I want to run away from it, but it’s the whole positive thing again. I lost a massive match in the fifth. That was a negative experience. It was a final and we played great tennis and I know what I did wrong. I analysed it in a second when I left the court, so it was fine.”

“How long does it take to recover from a defeat like that?”

“The tough part is the trophy presentation [laughs]. That was hardest because I have been on the winner’s side and it’s so enjoyable, but on the losing side it’s just, ‘Please let me go’. Then I come into the locker room and take a shower, and once I have done the press, I’m fine. You think about it for half a day or maybe next morning when you wake up — ‘What could I have done differently?’ — but it goes pretty quickly, the winning and the losing.”

“You played another epic final at Wimbledon this year. Given what had happened a year before, how tough would it have been to have lost against Roddick?” “Really tough. I don’t know if I was thinking about the Nadal match during that Roddick match, because I didn’t really have time, but with five- setters there’s definitely a bit of luck involved. But I’m a great believer that you can push luck on your side. I also believe things happen for a reason, and maybe that sixth [successive] Wimbledon in 2008 was not meant to be. Rafa was playing great early on and I just kind of didn’t believe . . . I lost the first two sets, and then the rain delay came and woke me up.”

“I heard a story that your wife intercepted you as you walked to the locker room during the rain delay and said: ‘Remember, you are Roger Federer’. Is that true?”

“I don’t remember that.” He smiles. “She wouldn’t say that, I don’t think, to be quite honest.”

“It’s a good story,” I say, laughing.

“No . . . the Roddick match . . . it was a different approach facing Andy than facing Rafa. I have such a tremendous record against Andy that the expectation was, ‘This is a match I cannot let go’. I had beaten him three times before at Wimbledon and knew that if I played well, I should come through. I never expected it going 16-14 [in the fifth] but my belief was so strong because of my record against him. And maybe what had happened the year before, knowing that mentally I should have started stronger against Nadal . . . I didn’t allow that to happen in the Roddick match, and that’s why I came through.”

“Where are you mentally with Nadal now? You lost to him in Australia but beat him in Madrid.”

“We haven’t played much,” he says. “We played in Australia, we played in Madrid, and that’s it this year. There was a time where we played almost every other week — Dubai, Monaco, Rome, Paris, Wimbledon — it went on and on. But it’s, like, up in the air right now.”

“On the day after he was knocked out of the French this year, you were quoted as saying, ‘Of course my dream scenario is to beat Rafa here in the final’. You don’t seriously expect us to believe that, do you?”

“I never hope guys lose. Tennis is a sport [in which] you have to beat whoever is across the net. I’ve never played Rafa at the US Open but I’ve been there the past six times in the final, so it’s not my mistake, you know?

“I’ve tried really hard for years to win the French, and everybody figured, ‘He needs to go through Nadal to be a worthy champion’, but I disagree. Tennis is different. Tennis is beating whoever is on the other side of the net. Sure, the perfect way would have been to beat Nadal, because he has beaten me so many times [there] but it was not the case and I don’t think it takes anything away from what I achieved. The courage and grit I showed over so many years at the French finally paid off, and it’s probably one of the great achievements of my career.”

“How does it feel, having done it? You’ve broken all the records now.”

“It’s a big relief, especially getting first [the win in] Paris and then the 15 [Grand Slam titles] at Wimbledon within a month. I was shell-shocked that it happened so quickly. To go from being criticised [at the Australian Open] for not being the same anymore to being called the greatest ever was a very fast turn.”

“The year was special for other reasons. You got married in April. You were dating for nine years. Why did it take you so long?”

He smiles. “I started dating Mirka when I was young. I was only a teenager, but the last three or four years it was something we talked about openly. I knew it was not going to be possible in 2008 with the Olympics, so I just said, ‘From 2009, I am ready for whatever you want . . . marriage, kids, whatever’. So it all came together and I’m very happy. We had a beautiful wedding and the kids are healthy. I couldn’t have hoped for more.”

“When did you find out Mirka was expecting twins?”

“In Australia, before the Del Potro match. I beat him 6-3 6-0 6-0, so it gave me wings, you could say.”

“Does it change anything? Does marriage and fatherhood change anything?”

“Yes. I feel more proud when Mirka says ‘husband’. I like it better when I can say, ‘[this is] my wife’. I always thought ‘girlfriend’ was cute, and I loved it, but ‘wife’ to me just sounds so much more serious and better. It goes way beyond what I thought as a teenager that marriage would be. And the babies . . . phew [exhales], that just gives a different dimension to life. To see the fire in the eyes of my wife, waking up 15 times a night if she has to . . . to see that and knowing what she would do for me, knowing what she would do for them, is very emotional.”

“Do you get up?”

“I do sometimes, but Mirka is too quick on her feet. She likes when I get involved, and of course with two you don’t have a choice, but I want to be part of it. I haven’t missed a day apart from my kids yet and I’m very fortunate to be able to experience that.”

“Ivan Lendl never won another Grand Slam after he became a father. And you’ve already lost one [the US Open] against Del Potro since the kids were born.”

“Yeah . . . these are statistics that I really don’t buy into.”

“I’m only kidding,” I insist.

“No, but you’re right. Those stats exist, but normally when you have kids as a male tennis player, it’s later in your career, so that kind of makes sense. I’m still actually pretty young, so that’s okay."

“Where do you see yourself now in terms of your career? Have you reached the downward curve?”

“I’m midway. It feels like the second part of my career right now, although I am trying to avoid saying that because the second part sounds like ‘neehhhhrrrrr’ [motions straight down]. You can definitely play your greatest tennis until 32 or 33, it’s just a matter of how you look at it. I’ve always been a big believer in looking at the big picture. It’s not about, ‘What will we do tomorrow?’, it’s about, ‘How will my life and tennis look in the next five years?’ And I still have the same vision, so that’s going to help me.”

“Have you set a date for retirement? You’ve spoken about London in 2012, when the Olympics are held at Wimbledon, as a good exit point.”

“No, I didn’t mean it as an exit point.”

“It’s a target?”

“Many people were asking me, ‘When are you going to retire?’ And I said, ‘Well, I'm definitely going to play until the 2012 Olympics’, but that was to shut them up, really. It depends how fit you are, but I would like to play beyond that, and Mirka has said that she would like our two daughters to see me play. So they need to grow a little bit and I need to play a little bit, but we’ll see where it takes us.”


2009年11月14日 星期六

Robert Enke

Robert Enke's funeral set for Sunday

Robert Enke, the Germany goalkeeper who committed suicide, will be buried on Sunday in a small ceremony near his home following a memorial service at the Hannover stadium

Paying tribute: a sea of candles have been placed to commemorate Robert Enke outside Hannover's stadium Photo: REUTERS

The Hannover goalstopper was struck by a regional train travelling between Norddeich and Hanover at a railway crossing in Neustadt am Rubenberge on Monday evening and died at the scene.

Germany's friendly with Chile in Cologne on Saturday has been called off, while hundreds of football fans have gathered outside Hannover's AWD-Arena to sign a book of condolence for Enke, and to leave flowers and scarves and light candles in his memory.

Enke's widow Teresa and his psychologist Dr Valentin Markser appeared at a press conference at the AWD-Arena on Wednesday to explain the background to his tragic death.

Enke was first treated for depression and performance anxiety in 2003, during his time at Barcelona, for whom he made only one La Liga appearance.

His widow revealed he feared their adopted daughter Leila would be taken away if the illness became public knowledge.

The couple adopted the eight-month-old in May. They lost their biological daughter Lara in 2006 when she died of a rare heart condition at the age of just two.

Teresa Enke said: "I tried to be there for him, said that football is not everything. There are many beautiful things in life. It is not hopeless.

"We had Lara, we have Leila.

"I always wanted to help him to get through it. He didn't want it to come out because of fear. He was scared of losing Leila."

Robert Enke suicide leaves Germany captain Michael Ballack in shock
German soccer star, suffering from depression, commits suicide by train

2009年11月12日 星期四

2009年11月11日 星期三

Oh Gemma~

I guess the pressure of being skinny has got to Gemma Ward and by Gemma Ward I mean her shoes cuz this model’s gone fat and the weight is probably pretty fucking abusive to her shoes and I guess to her career because she was a top model just a few months ago, and now he boyfriend probably doesn’t want to let her get on top for fear of getting choked the fuck out. Seriously, I don’t get how one eating disorder of starving herself went to the other eating disorder of trying to kill yourself with cake, but it did and I guess this is just another example of another one biting the dust, you know a bitch like my wife who led me to believe wasn’t a fat chick disguised as a skinny chick and I guess we should all point and laugh, but I’d watch out cuz she’s probably pretty sensitive about this shit, you know it is probably a soft spot, cuz she won’t be able to pull in the huge money she made herself and her management and they are probably pretty fucking mad about it. So here’s to hoping we will get to run into her working the cash at Wal Mart when all her money dries up. These are very exciting times…

GOAT Columnist - Simon Reed

Murray the best in the world

It was great to see Andy Murray make a winning comeback in Valencia and I still believe he is the best tennis player in the world, that's not to say he's going to win a Grand Slam.

To come back in Valencia and win after all that time out is amazing, but until he wins a Grand Slam you have to regard him as being on a lesser level than the likes of Federer and Nadal.

I don't think Federer is the player he was, Nadal is not the player he was. Djokovic seems to be coming back and there are others coming up, Cilic is one, but I think they are all pretty level and you can't pick a number one.

But if you press me to pick a number one, you look at who has been the most consistent outside of slams and it is Andy Murray.

He has won six times now, but for us to truly believe he needs to win a Slam; I am sure that will come.

Heading to London fresh will help him and it will help him next year for the Australian Open.

Right now if you ask me who is going to win in London I would have to say Murray. He is the favourite for me.

Federer is not playing well, for Djokovic to beat him in Basel is a great result for Djokovic and Nadal is not quite there either after all his problems.

I see Andy Murray as the favourite to win in London, but not in Australia. He has to prove he can win a Grand Slam first.

London will be a great occasion and Murray will go there being lightly raced and then on to Australia. Australia is his ideal surface and it is a great chance for him - but as I say, he needs to prove he can do it on the big occasion.

He pretty much has surpassed Peter Bodo to become the GOAT columnist in my heart!

God this comment by sanchez.santos is genuis:

Nice one Simon, now let us await the savage marauders from across the brandenburg gate, lol. As my learned friend Herr Wilfrid told us twenty years ago when we were bleary eyed from four days of non-stop binging and dancing, you don't know yet what is coming your way, Herr Honnicker and Gorbachev are unleashing caged undesirables who will take more than a generation to civilise. How true my friend, as we now know only too well.

It mixed the current issue well!

Feeling guilty? Give the money back, Safin tells Agassi

Reuters - November 10, 2009, 9:03 pm

PARIS, Nov 10 (Reuters) - Marat Safin has come up with an instant remedy to help Andre Agassi clear his conscience after his admission that he lied about using drugs -- hand back the millions of dollars he made in prizemoney.

Safin also suggested Agassi might also want to consider forfeitting all the titles he won during his long and celebrated career if he was serious about coming clean.

"He feels guilty? So let him just give back his titles, money, his grand slams!" Safin told the French sports daily L'Equipe.

"If he is so fair play, he should go all the way. You know, ATP have a bank account, he can refund if he wants to."

Safin, currently playing his last tournament in Paris this week, also questioned Agassi's motives for revealing his past drug use in his autobiography "Open".

In his book, Agassi revealed he had used and tested positive for crystal meth in 1997 but escaped punishment by lying to the investigators.

The American has since spoken about his remorse over his actions but Safin said was concerned about the way in which he confessed.

"I won't write my biography. I do not need any money. The question is: why did he do it?" Safin said.

"What's done is done. He hopes to sell more books. But he is completely stupid!"

"I do not defend the ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals) but what he said put them in a bad position. ATP allowed him to win a lot of tournaments, to make a lot of money.

"They kept his secret so why be so cruel with them? There are times you need to be able to shut up."

Earlier this month, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) said they were investigating whether to lay fresh charges against Agassi.

(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Julian Linden; To comment on this story email sportsfeedback@thomsonreuters.com)

2009年11月10日 星期二

Oh Gemma~

SYDNEY - AUSTRALIAN supermodel Gemma Ward has quit the industry after a series of media reports ridiculing her for gaining weight, reported The Sunday Telegraph.

According to the report Ward, who celebrated her 22nd birthday last week, has revealed via her agent that she does not intend to return to modelling.

Ward has not been much in the lime-light since the death of Australian actor Heath Ledger, whom she dated briefly.

She was photographed last week in New York wearing a print jacket, shorts and biker boots and looking more like a healthy young woman and less like an emaciated wraith. Ward had previously been criticised for being too thin in the early part of her career.

The photos were posted by international fashion blogger Bryan Boy and received an number of vicious comments on her new size and shape.

Ward's modelling agency in New York, Viviens, announced that the Australian had no immediate plans to return to the industry. 'Gemma hasn't committed to returning to modelling at any time soon', a spokeman said, adding Ward had the agency's full support.

source: straitstimes.com


Australian supermodel Gemma Ward has ruled out plans to make a comeback to the world of glamour.

The 22-year-old Ward, who has been a target of criticism by an international fashion website for gaining extra pounds, has done no fashion assignments since Health Ledger - who she was believed to be dating - passed away in January last year.

"Gemma hasn't committed to returning to modelling at any time soon," news.com.au quoted a rep for modelling agency, Viviens, as saying.

She added that the agency was fully supportive of the New York-based Ward.ard's model sister Sophie has kept mum on the issue.

source: newstrackindia.com

Which one shoould I believe? Neither of them make me happy...
Maybe the second one is less disappointing...


2009年11月8日 星期日

The greatest trick shot of them all

Roger Federer retreated beaneath the baseline before volleying a passing shot betwen his legs during Sunday's semifinal. Credit: Simon Bruty/SI
By Joe Posnanski

When I was young, I used to practice tennis trick shots. It was my way of handling the monotony of tennis practice. Well, I was never good with monotony. I would stand in the supermarket parking lot, and hit shot after shot after shot after shot into that brick wall, and I would imagine being on Centre Court facing John McEnroe. Then I would imagine being at the U.S. Open facing Jimmy Connors. Then I would imagine hitting the ball so hard that it would knock back the bricks, a millimeter at a time -- WHACK! WHACK! WHACK! WHACK! -- until finally I hit the final ball so hard that it would break through the wall and come out the other side, right into the produce section where it would hit the guy spraying lettuce with a water bottle. These reveries would usually sustain me for as long as 15 minutes. Then I would practice trick shots.

The definitive tennis trick shot is going back on a lob and then hitting the ball between your legs. I'm pretty sure that the first person I ever saw do this was Yannick Noah at the French Open one year ... and it animated my imagination. I used to be able to do all sorts of little tennis tricks. I can pick up a dormant tennis ball several different ways. At the net, I could hit a low volley between my legs, I could hit a behind the back shot. I practiced hitting a drop shot with so much backspin that the ball would bounce back over to my side of the net.*

*When I say I could do these things, I mean I could do them roughly one out of every 500 attempts.

But the go-back-and-hit-the-ball-through-the-legs shot was (and is) the gold standard of trick shots. So I must have practiced hitting it 50 times a day. The way to practice the shot is like so: You get close to a wall, and then hit the ball at an upward angle against the wall so that the ball pops up and over your head. Then you run up to the ball and measure the bounce so that as it is coming down you are basically standing OVER the ball -- you actually want to overrun the ball slightly -- and then come through with a full downward swing so that the racket hits the ball cleanly and goes through your legs on the follow through. If you hit it just right, the ball will have some power behind it and come out at a low-line drive, like a single up the middle.

When you practice this shot a lot -- especially when you lack talent -- you will hit yourself in the shins fairly often. This hurts a great deal. You will also miss three or four dozen times in a row and look foolish to anyone who happens to be walking by. But it's worth a little pain and embarrassment for that moment when you strike the ball just right. At least that's what I assume. I never did strike the ball just right, at least not in an actual tennis match. Ever so often, I would get it right in the parking, though. That had to be enough.

All of this rushed back on Sunday, when I watched Roger Federer face Novak Djokovic in a Sunday semifinal. It was a beautiful match to watch -- especially the second and third sets -- because Djokovic is an entertaining player himself, and he played well enough to bring out some magic from Federer. This is how good Federer has become -- most of the time when you watch him play, you barely see his brilliance because his opponent simply isn't good enough to coax it out of him.* Djokovic, on this day, wasn't good enough to win even a set. But he was good enough to make Federer play brilliantly.

*It reminds me of when I saw Larry Hughes play basketball in college. Hughes was playing for St. Louis University then, and he was playing against the University of Missouri-Kansas City -- UMKC as we call them in the American City of Fountains -- and it was clear that Hughes was a remarkable basketball player. But no one on the floor was good enough to bring out his talents. At first, I actually was irritated at Hughes for not showing the full array of his preposterous gifts. He played well enough -- I recall him scoring some points, making a couple of moves that left you to wonder what he could really do. But mostly he seemed like a musical prodigy who refused to play music.

Only then did I realize that it wasn't Hughes at all -- he was just too good for the game. Ali needed Frazier to bring out his boxing courage. McEnroe needed Bjorn Borg to unleash his tennis genius. Michael Jordan needed the NBA to feed his competitive hunger. Joe Montana needed the NFL and the final two minutes to generate his gift for the dramatic. Diego Maradona needed the World Cup to set loose his artistry.

And Hughes simply could not show us what was inside him during a nothing game against UMKC. There wasn't enough energy in the building, not enough competition on the floor, not enough magic in the night. He has gone on to become a good-to-excellent NBA player, and on many nights he has shown what he could not show on that day in Kansas City.

Throughout the match, Federer hit some shots that left people gasping. Here's the most remarkable thing to me about Federer: Seems to me that the more you know about tennis, the more amazed you are by the guy. If you know nothing at all about tennis, he's amazing. If you know a little something about tennis -- maybe you have played a few times in your life -- he's more amazing. If you know a little more about tennis -- maybe you played in high school and once had illusions of becoming a pro -- he's even MORE amazing. And if you were a great player -- if you are a McEnroe or a Connors or a Jim Courier -- then Federer is preposterously amazing.

Even Federer reacted with excitement as his shot electrified the U.S. Open crowd. Simon Bruty/SI

That's how you know you're watching real greatness. Most people are affected by what I might call The Magician's Standard. That is, a magician who can wow kids is on one level ... but maybe adults might see right through his silly little tricks. A magician who can wow adults is on another level ... but maybe amateur magicians can still see how the trick is done. A magician who can wow amateur magicians is on yet another level ... but maybe professional magicians shake their heads because they notice some sloppiness. And, one last level, a magician who can wow professional magicians is obviously technically remarkable ... but he might leave children cold and bored.

But a magician who can wow ALL OF THEM, yeah, to me, that's real greatness. And that's Federer. He plays such beautiful tennis that anyone -- even someone who doesn't like tennis -- can easily appreciate it. But he also hits shots that leave McEnroe speechless. At one point in Sunday's match, Djokovic hit an impossibly hard forehand down near the line, an almost unreturnable shot. Federer reached down easily -- almost causally -- and, with a flick of his wrist, took off much of the speed and spun the ball into the open court, where it skidded off the line for a winner. McEnroe -- who I think is the best announcer in the game, any sport, and a guy who made his bones hitting near-impossible tennis shots -- was left fumbling trying to explain the absurdity of that shot. "It was ... just ... so ... easy," McEnroe sputtered, and you could tell right then that he wished he could scream the words that would explain to America the almost comical genius of that shot. But there are no such words.

My own favorites in the Federer Collection are the inside-out forehands he hits from deep in the corner of the ad-court -- that is, all the way on the left side. From that side, the average player generally hits backhands but Federer's speed and footwork is so good that he can run around his backhand (which is merely great) and hit his forehand (which might be the best shot in the history of tennis -- there with Connors' and Nadal's backhands, Pete Sampras' and Bill Tilden's serve, Borg and Andre Agassi's return of serve). Federer can hit that forehand down the line, into the middle, he can hit it with ferocious topspin or he can hit it flat. But what's really amazing is that he can hit that forehand crosscourt at such absurd angles that at first it appeared to me he was mis-hitting these shots. It seemed to me the only way to hit a ball at that sharp an angle was to have the ball careen off the top of the tennis frame. But these were not mis-hits. Federer would hit those shots again and again, and on Sunday he must have hit five of them at different speeds that looked like optical illusions.

Yes, it was an entertaining match. Federer won the first two sets -- the first in a tiebreaker, the second on a break of server at 5-6 -- but other than the Federer's indomitable tennis competitiveness, there wasn't much to tell them apart. The point of the match actually belonged to Djokovic who stood at net and returned four straight shots when Federer had him at point blank range. The fourth return was a pop-up -- a set up for a Federer smash -- and Djokovic turned his back and stuck out his butt, as if to give Federer a target. The crowd loved it. Federer smiled too. And Djokovic hit several other brilliant shots -- plus he was uncanny at challenging bad calls. He was a great foil for Federer on this day -- fierce in competition but still aware enough of the moment to flash a sly smile when Federer hit one of his immortal shots. And down two sets, he continued to play with energy, and he held serve all the way until 5-6 again. And then Federer won the first two points on Djokovic to go up love-30.

That's when it happened. Djokovic hit a drop shot. Federer charged, managed to get the ball back over the net, and Djokovich lofted a lob over Federer's head. A great lob. There wasn't much of anything Federer could do except ... well, yes. Federer ran back ... and I could see (you could see, we all could see) he was measuring it. He was setting up for the great. He ran up to the ball, ran over it, and then suddenly swung down hard -- slashed the racket between his legs. A blur.

And ... he ... ripped ... a ... winner into the open court.

"Whoa!" I screamed, and I never scream at the television set. My wife raced down: "What happened?"

"You have to see this," I said, and they showed it again, and then again, and again, and my wife was impressed, of course, because how can you not be impressed when you see a tennis player hit a vicious winner through his legs? But she's only learning tennis now ... and she went back to her day.

I could not ... I had to sit there and let the shot sink in. It didn't surprise me a few minutes later -- Federer won the match on the next point -- when Federer called it the greatest shot he'd ever hit. Of course it was the greatest shot he hit. It was the greatest shot anyone had ever hit. It was absolutely perfect -- the perfect setup, the perfect moment, the perfect shot.

"A lot, actually," Federer said when asked if he practiced that shot. Well, sure he did. Even Federer can get bored practicing tennis. Even Federer needs a few moments of escape, a few moments when he can practice the greatest tennis trick shot in the world. The difference between Federer and every other dreamer who practiced hitting shots between their legs, of course, is that he's the greatest tennis player who ever lived. And for him the perfect moment happened in the semifinal of the U.S. Open, two points away from victory. That's when he hit the greatest tennis trick shot in the world. Only, in that moment, it was even more than that. It was art.


2009年11月6日 星期五

Only Roger Can Do


So I suddenly feel a little wierd about his acceptance of FO ceremony. It's probably Roger's most glorious and proudest moment in his career.  But after he adimitted his mix-feelings about tennis, I doubt whether if he was really happy for Roger. Some said he tarnished Roger's FO ceremony but I think it's too much, still, you can't blame a Fedfan to say so, if you are a real Fedfan.

Andre just keeps me busy LOL

Just when you thought there weren't any more headlines in Andre Agassi's incendiary, engrossing and endlessly human autobiography, "Open" (with J.R. Moehringer, from Knopf), the hits keep on coming.

In it:

Agassi hints he tanked games. "Losing on purpose isn't easy," he writes. "You have to lose in such a way that the crowd can't tell, and in a way that you can't tell. Your mind is tanking, but your body is fighting on. ... You don't do those tiny things you need to do. You don't run the extra few feet, you don't lunge. You're slow to come out of stops. You hesitate to bend or dig." Of losing in the semifinals of the 1996 Australian Open against Michael Chang -- a match Agassi suggests he tanked -- he writes, "I'm glad I lost.
Sportswriters who accused him of tanking often were wrong. "They never get it right," he writes in the diary-style format. "When I tank, they say I'm not good enough; when I'm not good enough, they say I tank."

He says his father calculated that when Agassi was 7, he made him hit 1 million balls in a single year.

He says his father gave him speed before the junior nationals in Chicago. Agassi writes he purposely made the match closer than it had to be, just so his father wouldn't make him take it again.

He did crystal meth partly out of self-loathing. "Apart from the buzz of getting high," he writes, "I get an undeniable satisfaction from harming myself and shortening my career. After decades of merely dabbling in masochism, I'm making it my mission. ... I hate tennis more than ever, but I hate myself more."

He was a bit of a pyromaniac. He liked to light things on fire. Once, on the balcony of a Munich hotel, he lit paper, clothes and shoes on fire, his way of coping with "extreme stress."

He had plenty of stress. He was so angry after then-girlfriend Brooke Shields licked actor Matt LeBlanc's hand at a live taping of "Friends," he stormed out, drove home and smashed all his trophies, including ones he won at the Davis Cup, U.S. Open and Wimbledon.

He was never sure he wanted to marry Shields. But he could relate to the actress. "She knows what it's like to grow up with a brash, ambitious, abrasive stage parent," he writes.

He claims that while Shields was getting in shape for the wedding, she taped a photo on her refrigerator of the "perfect woman" -- Steffi Graf (now his wife).

He says he got married with lifts in his shoes at Shields' request.

He says Shields got regular threats from stalkers, and he would put his longtime trainer, Gil Reyes, on a plane to stalk them back. "He ... appears ... at the stalker's house or workplace ... holds up the letter and says very softly, 'I know who you are and where you live. ... If you ever bother Brooke and Andre again, you will see me again, and you don't want that,'" Agassi writes.

He describes rival Pete Sampras as one-dimensional, "robotic" and a bad tipper, recalling a time Sampras gave a Palm Springs car valet one dollar. On the other hand, Agassi is grateful to have had Sampras' greatness to measure himself against. "Losing to Pete has caused me enormous pain," he writes, "but in the long run it's also made me more resilient. If I'd beaten Pete more often ... I'd have a better record ... but I'd be less."

He saves no love for Jimmy Connors, whom he calls a "rude, condescending, egomaniac prick." Of Connors' coaching Andy Roddick for a time, he writes, "Poor Andy."

He was incensed that Chang would point to the sky every time he won a match. "He thanks God -- credits God -- for the win, which offends me. That God should take sides in a tennis match, that God should side against me ... feels ludicrous and insulting."

He says Todd Martin was, "like me, an underachiever."

He insists that his sister, Rita, ran off with 32-years-older tennis legend Pancho Gonzales because their father was too contentious and controlling.

He notes that the irony of a man who never finished high school running one of the finest prep schools in Nevada is not lost on him. To say nothing of his school having a dress code.

And, perhaps the most shocking revelation of all: Beginning in 1999, he says, he never played wearing underwear again.


Poor Andy. He defended for Agassi in twitter in the first time!

In his new book, Agassi on journey to find himself

In his new book, Agassi on journey to find himself

by Matt Cronin

At first glance, Andre Agassi's new autobiography, Open, is a fascinating account of a boy morphing from a psychologically beaten-down prodigy of an emotionally disturbed ex-boxer of a father into an intelligent, big-hearted sporting guru, until one gets into the meat of what the eight-time major champion is attempting to portray about his life.

Agassi's most stunning revelation to his fans is that he was using crystal meth in 1997, tested positive for it and then lied to the ATP Tour about how it got into his system (he claimed in a letter to officials that he drank it out of his mysterious assistant Slim's soda can, even though the use was actually more widespread) but was somehow exonerated by a tribunal.

But for those who know him and who covered him over his 17-year career, the most shocking revelation is he consistently lied about his love of the sport, about his true opinions on other players' personalities, about his love for his ex-wife, actress Brooke Shields, about how truthful he was to the press and about how truthful he was even to himself.

Time and time again in the book, Agassi recounts episodes where he was saying one thing and thinking another and, in a sense, mocks those who believed what he was saying.

Why he thought much of the world should have known so many of his answers to simple questions were tongue-in-cheek responses or bewildered statements by a devastated man in search of his true identity is beyond comprehension, especially given that, for at least the last nine years of his career, he consistently harped on the importance of being forthright, humble and insightful. In many ways, he wanted to be seen as a pull-no-punches, no-bull kind of man — the very opposite of the ad campaign he participated in and came to despise, "Image is everything."

And now, just because he decided to lay a lot on the table in his book, he's expecting his readers to take his pleas for understanding hook, line and sinker, just as he admittedly did in an interview with the respected Charlie Rose, when he said he fibbed his way through the entire segment.

As engaging and likeable as Agassi is, I'm certainly not buying all of it.

The book is certainly a must-read for any tennis fan. Most of his great rivals get thorough treatment (Pete Sampras, Jim Courier, Michael Chang, Boris Becker among them). Like Agassi's dad, Mike, who once terrified him by punching out a truck driver and who nearly came to blows with his father-in-law, Peter Graf (Steffi's father), Andre takes some roundhouse punches at the likes of the "egomaniacal" Jimmy Connors and his former coach, "the warden" Nick Bollettieri. Agassi is very respectful of Sampras' game, but steps on his dominant rival's more straightforward personality. And when it comes to Shields, he is less than kind, essentially calling her phony, vacuous, too concerned with her own world and not enough with his.

Though Agassi pleads for understanding of his own case — his militaristic father forced him to play tennis against his will, and he was sent to the tennis "prison" of the Bollettieri Academy (he calls it "Lord of the Flies with forehands") — he's not very sympathetic to others.

He wants Shields to understand he's more of a stay-at-home guy, but doesn't quite get why she wants to go out a lot. He wants her to take more of an interest in his career, but he's bored by hers. He feels like a third wheel when being around the Hollywood types who are discussing acting, but doesn't get why she might feel left out when his crew of sports lovers are discussing their trade.

And the one-time Davis Cup hero wants the reader to believe everything he's writing is the truth, even though he spends a couple of hundred pages talking about how he lied about his commitment to the sport (upset with Shields, he says he purposefully tanked his 1996 Australian Open semifinal to Chang to avoid another war with Becker) and about what tennis can teach a person.

Of course, Agassi is trying to sell books, so he was no doubt encouraged to spice up the copy. He has always had opinions, so he had little trouble letting them fly. Painting himself as an abandoned child who became a fugitive from a sport he hated, he wants the world to understand that, a lot of the time, he was struggling to place his feelings, so if he just happened to say the opposite of what he meant, then so be it.

What most folks are discussing now is his crystal meth revelation and whether it was gutsy for Agassi to come out and reveal he took a banned substance. It might have been before the eight-year statute of limitations was exhausted sometime in 2005, but it isn't now, as neither the ATP nor ITF can go back and take away any of his titles or prize money. Moreover, he conveniently admits to doing crystal meth during a period when he didn't win a single title and eventually fell to No. 141 in the world.

Some folks don't think crystal meth is a performance enhancer, but it is an upper, so Agassi cannot possibly claim it absolutely had no positive effect on any match he played (he did reach the fourth round of the U.S. Open during the summer that he said he was indulging). Nor can he claim his revelation doesn't affect anyone but himself, as any ATP officials who thought he was their friend at the time and believed he was playing straight with them has been burned by his statement in the book.

Doping officials are so upset that David Howman, the director general of the World Anti-Doping Agency, told the London Telegraph that he would be writing to the tennis authorities to ask them to investigate "the possibility of perjury" or "a breach of the law" following Agassi's admission that he lied about the crystal meth got in his system.

Agassi has an incredible memory for matches, but flubs some history in his book. He recalls, to take one example, when he was disqualified from the San Jose tournament in 1999 (he and Shields had just separated) and appears to come clean, saying in the book that he called a linesman an obscenity for turning him in after he cursed at himself, but that's not really what occurred. He also swore at a lineswoman under his breath (twice in my memory) and also at his opponent, Cecil Mamiit, before being tossed for calling the linesman the same name again.

"I'm shocked," Agassi said at the time. "I didn't swear at him, and I can't believe it happened."

Ten years later, he's telling a different tale when he could have apologized and come clean, just as he could have for his meth use and received a three-month sentence.

Perhaps because Agassi was in a painful search for his identity, was still struggling with his relationship with his father and with Shields, he should be forgiven his transgressions.

Perhaps he has become a more fulfilled person now that he is married to his intelligent and down-to-earth soul mate, Graf, and has two children to whom he is very devoted.

Perhaps this cathartic book will help in his lifelong search for who he is.

Without question, he's one of the most interesting people ever to set foot on court, is one of the sport's great on-court analysts and has done amazing work creating and funding his Las Vegas charter school.

And perhaps now that he realizes he chose to play tennis rather than being forced into it he can come to terms with his love/hate relationship with the sport.

Toward the end of his book, Agassi quotes the poet Walt Whitman: "Do I contradict myself? Very well, I contradict myself."

Agassi says: "I never knew this is an acceptable point of view. Now I steer by it. Now it's my North Star."

It appears that it always has been and maybe always will be.

2009年11月5日 星期四

I think it makes sense

Somebody's thoughts on Agassi's confessions
To sum up:

1. Making money out of it is lame.
2. From "trouble background" doesn't mean you have to take drugs.
3. He made a mistake for sure but didin't get punished.
4. Now he admits it and he becomes a saint, ironically from a sinner.
5. He could admits it ten years ago rather than now or keeps his mouth shut forever.

One comment I like by Navratilova:
He's up there with Roger Clemens, as far as I’m concerned.

Andre, you tarnish the sport you hate that's fine, but it's people who love the sport suffer the consequence.

Return to Glory

Pittsburgh Steelers

FC Barcelona

Roger Federer

LA Lakers

New York Yankees

Young Guns


267 Krajinovic, Filip SRB
291 Tomic, Bernard AUS
308 Dimitrov, Grigor BUL

Looking back on 5/18

522 Krajinovic, Filip SRB
366 Dimitrov, Grigor BUL