Davis Cup

Though the players complain of scheduling problems, they are willing to put their might in for the Davis Cup matches. With Serbia, Spain and Switzerland in action over the last week, it gave the fans to watch a plethora of stars in action. With Djokovic, Nadal and Federer in action in these matches for their respective countries, it represented a turning of the corner for Tennis in general

 

Gone were the days of major stars like Sampras shunning the Davis Cup preparation in favour of preparation time. With the change of rules in 2009, where ranking points were awarded for wins in Davis Cup, top players were back in the fold. This provides for superb atmosphere in what are called as ‘rubbers’

 

Davis Cup, in nature is totally different to Slams. It is the only tournament in Tennis, apart from the friendly Hopman Cup, that has the individual contributing to the Team’s cause.  It is this atmosphere that motivates scrappers like Lleyton Hewitt from Australia and Leander Paes from India

 

Hewitt once came back from a 2-0 deficit to defeat Federer and played well in front of a rabid home crowd in Brazil to defeat Gustavo Kuerten on clay. It is this feeling- that of playing for the country and being responsible for its fortunes that might be the reason for the players giving their best

 

Djokovic underwent contrasting emotions in the space of one year in the Davis cup. He sheared off his hair in celebration of an epic victory for Serbia last year. This year he was in tears because he had to retire midway in the match against Del Potro and thus put his country out in the semis

 

When we talk of streaks, it would be remarkable to note that Nadal has an impregnable singles record in the Davis Cup. He has won 18 matches and only lost one match.  That one loss was against Jiri Novak seven years ago. So more often than not, once Nadal plays the rubber, its advantage Spain

 

Just in the recently concluded match against France, the way he took apart Tsonga was exemplary. Now that the final is scheduled on clay against  Argentina, he would be  a force to reckon and his clash against Juan Martin del Potro would be keenly followed

It was Davis Cup victory that marked a seminal event for Djokovic’s amazing run this year. Whoever said tennis is an individual sport needs to rethink and find time to follow Davis Cup

 

(This feature first appeared on cheeseslices.co.uk  on 21st September 2011)

 

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Dookudu Review

 

1

:a personal magic of leadership arousing special popular loyalty or enthusiasm for a public figure (as a political leader)

2

: a special magnetic charm or appeal <the charisma of a popular actor>

 

 

The above mentioned is the definition for ‘Charisma’. The second one would perfectly imply anybody who has ‘it’ in the entertainment industry. The purpose of taking the readers through the dictionary definitions of Charisma, is that I saw it with my own eyes yesterday

 

For long this man has been called a passive actor and a performer suited only for intense roles as his face takes that little bit longer, to register a happy expression. He had a life defining hit in 2006 which bought a lot of unwanted attention. The pressure to deliver a colossal hit grew with every film, that he acted in. It, in fact was so overbearing that he stayed away from the turnstiles for three years

 

Then when he came back from the self-imposed exile, people questioned his choice of the comeback vehicle. Though the movie was criticised, it was that movie that provided the glimpse of the clout that his film can hold over the audiences. Nearly a year after its release, it is talked about more often than the movie, it lost out to in the box office race- Brindavanam

 

It was back to square one for him as he had to depend on a tried and tested product to continue his comeback. It was during this phase that he chose a man who bases all his scripts on the ‘entertainment quotient’. The effort of the combination of these two, is what we have in front of our eyes today

 

So what basically works for the movie? The lead actor occupying 95% of the run time of the movie worked out. That the man can hold his own despite the above mentioned shortcomings(?) is a testimony to his charisma. Sitting away from ‘multiplex’ and in a normal single screen, you will totally register the impact of the sway that he holds on the audience

 

With a full theatre swooning for him, you are also tempted to shout for him at the top of your voice. You do that as he explodes from his entry scene, with a multitude of one-liners. His episode with the heroine will bring the roof down with, what the socially aware reviewers are calling chauvinism

 

You can’t blame him for not deviating from the ‘tried and tested’ as we have seen a lot of directors dish out mediocrity in the name of intelligent cinema. So credit to him, that he trusts himself in the hands of the director

 

He has been ably aided by the director’s team namely, Brahmanandam and MS Narayana. Song picturisation does leave a tad of sour aftertaste but ‘Poovai Poovai’ makes up for all of it

 

The man needs to be taken to every city and town where the movie is running to full houses and be made aware of the charisma he wields. Perhaps that would make him come out of the snailish pace at which his pictures are shot

 

Till the next movie of his releases, we have this. And if you have not yet realised that it was Mahesh Babu that I was talking about then here goes the introduction. His name is Mahesh Babu

(Narration style of the feature has been borrowed from one of Mahesh Babu’s earlier movies- Arjun)

 

 

Djokovic and the art of winning

On 1st February 2009, Roger Federer broke into tears at the Australian Open presentation. The words that he uttered before breaking down were ‘God, it’s killing me’. There was a reason behind that. Though Federer will not reveal it, it was pretty clear. 2008 was a year that Federer couldn’t put it through Nadal

 

He lost the French Open final (expectedly) and then was at the receiving end at Wimbledon, which was later hailed as the ‘Greatest match ever played’ . All this came to a conclusion at the Australian Open final, where for most part of the match, Federer had played the better tennis and even won more points than Nadal

 

This season, Nadal went through a similar run. He entered into 6 finals against Djokovic and lost in each one of them. It is not a co-incidence that Djokovic is having a dream run. In doing that, Djokovic has spread his wins over Nadal on all the surfaces- hard, clay, and grass

 

After he lost to him at the Wimbledon, Nadal acknowledged that Djokovic has gotten into his mind and he would need to play on a higher scale to put it across him. He did get the opportunity at Flushing Meadows but could not quite get there

 

When Nadal blazed away to a 2-0 lead in the opening set, it was thought that Nadal finally found a way to put it across Djokovic. However Djokovic was back to his imperious best as he reeled off six games in a row

 

The second set too followed a similar script as Nadal burst away to 2-0 lead, only to see Djokovic raise his own game and take the second set. He was in the danger of getting a drubbing similar to the one, that he gave Federer in the 2008 French Open

 

In the third set, Nadal was a break down early and in the latter half of the set, he got the forehand going. He was also having the long rallies in the match, go his way. After he won the third set, it was expected that he would exhaust Djokovic and take the match into the fifth set

 

Though Djokovic had problems with his lower back on the left side, he played a destructive game as Nadal was a mute spectator to the cascade of the shots from his racket. Djokovic not only won the final but also put it across Nadal tactically

 

There were two strokes that worked like a dream for Djokovic- the groundstrokes and the inside-out double handed backhand. His return of service was as exceptional as Nadal’s serve was poor. Nadal clocked early 100’s on his first serves. Djokovic feasted on these as he sent the returns rocketing back to Nadal at half volley length’s at the baseline

 

Nadal is normally quick to pounce on any sign of fallibility but here he could not capitalise on the number of unforced error’s committed by Djokovic in the second set. Djokovic, in fact did not play a perfect match but then he made sure that Nadal couldn’t rip that forehand of his

 

When Nadal wanted to get the wide serve going, it invariably found the net and his forehands, more often than not bounced long. In the third set, he tried to change the strategy a bit as he didn’t toss the ball as much. This was because he wanted to reduce the reaction time of Djokovic and he succeeded to an extent as he was able to hold his serve at crucial junctures of the third set

 

By the time the fourth set arrived, it clearly looked like Nadal ran out of steam. He wasn’t willing enough to chase down the balls and literally, he was running on empty

 

If the same trend continues then it isn’t far away from Nadal’s version of 2009 Australian Open final. This rivalry is a mouth watering prospect for the next season

Strokes of Genius

Just when does a person call any match as the ‘greatest match of all time’? It has got to have what one would call an occasion, setting and a storied rivalry. Wimbledon final 2008 had all of this. It was the longest final at 4 hours and 48 minutes

When one chooses to write on the final, you would half expect them to write a lot about the match, for the match was one such. But Weirthem treads off the beaten track here as he concentrates on the growth of Federer and Nadal in his description of each set and talks about the Wimbledon grass, general health of tennis and also how the games are broadcast from Wimbledon

The game was one such where Federer found it tough to break Nadal’s serve and ended up conceding 6 games in every set to Nadal. Weirthem also concentrates on how Nadal’s game poses problems for Federer. He reveals in detail the way Nadal tormented the (weak) backhand of Federer

A lot many people will brush away lot of facts from the book as unnecessary trivia, but in the larger scheme of things, it acts as a warehouse of facts. Figure this fact from the book- Federer has 27 variants of the forehand in his arsenal

When he describes the life’s of Federer and Nadal, the reader wouldn’t feel that the author is veering off from the main topic. The only jarring note of the book is the fact that it, more than once puts down the quality of  1980 final

Once you are done reading the book, you will emerge out of it, with some respect for Nadal, if you are a Federer fan and vice-versa, if you are a Nadal fan

One of the most appreciated things about the book is the fact that at no point does, Weirthem try to spice up the proceedings by bringing in irrelevant topics. He sticks to the basics and ends up creating a picture in your mind, if you haven’t watched the final. If you did, he makes you go through the entire experience all over