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At some point the great Federer run had to end. A 2nd round exit from Wimbledon is not what we are used to from the great champion. The last time, he had to bow this early, was more than 10 years ago and that tells the greatness of his journey. Even the great king, pistol Pete Sampras had to taste the sourness at this piece of grass. That way, it was not completely out of ordinary that this happened today, but I always loved to see master march on for this title; one more time, every time!  The great man didn’t play all too badly today, but the Ukranian was full of confidence. Seeing the way Serhiy Stakhovsky served and stayed confident to go to the nets at Wimbledon, facing the 7 time champion was a sight that was reminiscent of foregone days . It was a pleasant sign to see some serve and volley show staged at Wimbledon. In that respect, as much pain I am with Federer’s exit, happy to take home, memory of a good match and feel for the star of the day.

Finally, I was there, but the 2 hour stunning drive from San Diego in the evening, through the picturesque terrain wast quite satisfying in the end. With the back injury backdrop, Federer was no where the fit champion he has been. The occasional graceful shots were in display last night, but by and large he was playing more from the shade than from the limelight. Nadal on the other hand was on the drive, even from the practice hit moments. The weather (as always) at Indian wells in the evening was superb and the atmosphere was blistering. The match unfortunately got over in less than 100 minutes. Always sad to see Federer losing this way, but then his legacy is not stemmed from a single match though. I wonder whether he will make it next year at 33. Hope he does!

It is kind of sad to see Federer loosing from a rather reaching to a comfortable position of winning the match. But it did happen in Wimbledon 1 months ago and now the very same thing happened in US open on Saturday. You may call it unlucky and some may say it is just aging. Hopefully he wins another grand-slam.

What an epic clash this at the first round of Australian open, between the local boy Hewitt and Argentine Nalbandian. Who can forget the 2005 epic clash between Nalbandian and Hewitt? That day, Hewitt just had the luck to edge out Nalbandian. Come 2010, the excitement and clash was as good as 2005, just that the winning number changed sides. And this time, first round itself. What a great start for this Australian open!

A Nalbandian Nadal clash somewhere down the lane is likely. How will the two best friends in circuit clash there. I cant wait.

It was only an exhibition match, but for a great cause to alleviate a little bit of the pain of an awestruck nation due  to the earthquake. The damages and the loss of people can never be compensated. It is beyond what we can comprehend and fathom. Hopefully the money collected out of the exhibition help to rebuild the hopes of the unfortunate Haiti people.

The game itself was set with an awesome theatrical presence. Arguably the best two of the men ever played tennis positioned one side. Sampras and Federer need no introduction of any kind, do they. They announced their aura straighaway by a series of volleys and top serves. Afterall, they just have 30 grandslams between them, Just? Who patrolled the other side of the net? Agassi-Nadal combo. Boy, can you ask for more, if you are a tennis fan?

I really enjoyed watching these games. Agassi was at his imperial best, cracking jokes. Equally good were the Sampras-Fedex pair who at best are stoic when it comes to mood display in public. But even these  usually laconic persona gave away to some fun talking throughout the match through the microphone. In all, it was different, but filled with fun. And what is more, it was all done for a good cause.

After a long gap (over six months or so),  I finally played some tennis again. Much to my surprise, I wasn’t all that rusty in spite of the long layoff from any major sporting (barring some recent treks and once in a while cricket) activities during this period. After a few hits, my serves started holding and I slowly felt the rhythm. I started enjoying this beautiful game once again! In the Swiss heat, it was almost unbearable at times to absorb the hot air from the synthetic surface. On Friday and Saturday’s I played for two hours each until late evening. Yesterday, after the game we took dip in the Lake Geneva near the UNIL sports center arena at St.Sulpice. I never felt a better swim than this before. Such was the feeling of taking a clean water swimming after a good game of sports. It was getting darker and a swim between 2100 to 2200 on the fading summer light in the foothills of the Alps was simply amazing. I just cant compare a place to this amazing Lake Geneva region. Quite a place this is. After the swimming I seemed to have regained all vigour to play a few more games. Had there been floodlights, we were on for a few more perhaps! They say winning is an elixir for eternal youthfulness, but did I feel that swimming in lake Geneva comes close to that?

While, standing in the lake  with chest level water and overlooking the Alps mountains,  it reminded me of the photos of saints in olden days taking a morning yama’s in the Ganges overlooking the Himalayas. I’ve never been to Ganges, but for once I could perhaps feel a sense of their state of mind. I felt like singing one of those Yesudas classical songs, standing with half immersed body. I don’t quite remember whether I did one. I was in a state of fulfilment sort to say!

Lake geneva

Oh boy, what did we see this evening at Wimbledon? A grandslam final, filled with nothing short of a breathtaking drama. A near neck to neck battle between king Federer and a fabulously charged up Roddick. Guess who was watching that epic cliffhanger? The emperor of that piece of grass strip in central London! No point in guessing the name: Pistol Pete Sampras. Sampras was visiting Wimbledon after 2002, perhaps just to witness another great champion Federer get past him in the number of grandslam titles. What an occasion! Unbelievable tennis on display when blue sky topped the roof in clean light. I feel for Rodick here. This was ‘the chance’, he had at hand: and truly well he deserved, one must say. I for one had written him off yesterday, even though he had played great tennis in the semi final to beat British hope Andy Murray. From one Andy to another Andy, the other finalist name changed, breaking the great British hope, since Henman (Well, Henman was not really a realistic hope, when Sampras was taking a stroll down the Wimbledon park).  I was expecting Fedex to just roll over him in the title clash. But alas! Didn’t he give Fedex  a run for his crown?

In the end, Federer had that extra epsilon, call it luck or experience.  He was there on that center court final stage on every single year for the last seven summers. Last year he lost it only by a whisker to the Spaniard Nadal. Federer truly deserved to be the grand-slam record holdert. He is the best player on the circuit and he is so very effortless, athletic and passionate.  The great man is a beauty and indeed is a treasure to this great game.   I cant have enough praise on the way he played tennis over the years.  He is so very smooth and graceful. A touch of Lara, Tendulkar or Dravid in cricket. I really was feeling a lot low when Sampras retired in 2002, but the Swiss has indeed made up that void since then.  A humble soul Federer typify the Swiss people I guess. So gentle and an amazing role model to the new generation. I really hope that he gets a few more grand slams titles.

Turning back to the losing finalist, I can imagine how hard it would be to be an Andy Roddick who narrowly missed the crown by perhaps one or two moments of marginal shots.  Sometimes sport can be so cruel! In the end winner takes it all and it is agonizing. It must be hard to be a second at that level. But then, that is what it takes it to be the best in the world. Only thin air make the separation. It is courage and wisdom at times to grab that silver line.  Grabbing is secondary, seeing it in the first place is what separates the best from the next best. After all, it is not easy to get there. Isn’t life beautiful?

Vous l’avez fait Federer! Federer is the French open 2009 champion. Something in me was telling, even before the start of this grandslam tournament, that this is the year for Fedex to win at Roland Garos. Ever since Nadal lost to Soderling earlier, his case was strengthened even further. He has done it finally.  What an year to win this. He is expecting his son to be born in few months and now, he can be at peace with the agony of not winning the French open, in spite of reaching the finals so many times. What a player he has been over the years. Todays match was much like the Federer-Murray US open final last year. Federer was superb. Soderling didn’t do too wrong, but that is the elegance and class of the great man Federer.

He has already moved to the pantheon of greats. Now it is a matter of adding more flavour to his already colourful charisma. All grand-slam championship as well now comes with this win. Incredible. Thank you Fedex for keeping us enthralled by your genius. Seeing it from Switzerland is even more exciting.

Footnote:  Whenever I cross the Ecublens area near Crochy, the tennis courts, I remember  Federer. I was told that he used to train there in early days of his wonderful tennis life. I am yet to figure out where exactly he did that school tennis training. Just out of curiosity! It may be just a few maters of walk from where I stay!

Nadal losing at French open: This wasn’t forthcoming! Until yesterday this piece of statement would have created sighs and huh-s. Raefal Nadal losing at Roland Garos was un heard off, even in the tennis folklore. Such was the authority Nadal had on this strip of clay in Paris during summer.  Roger Federer, the invincible champion of this decade, even in his hay days found Nadal a bitter nut to crack. The four time champion Nadal of this very famous clay grand slam was all expected to beat the record held by the famous Swedish player Bjorn Borg who had won the same from 1978-81. Today, incidentally another Swedish player put a stop, a break so to speak, to that charge. Now the question and equations are relatively easier for a Fedex charge, but never know. Given that, a few upsets in the last couple of days, we can still hope for some more uncertainty, but I would expect Federer to sail through from here on. Andy Murray and with a less probability Roddick are the bigger stumbling blocks for Federer now.

Robin Soderling seeded 25 will now be known as the man who entered the record book for being the first and only player to beat Nadal at French open. He was a clay court no big boy so far, but given the form he is in, we can expect some sort of excitement in the coming days.

I get the feeling that Nadal was coming to this match, with almost no rest season. He was playing non stop and it was a bit of overkill, considering that he was in for a big season ahead. I remember Vijay Amritraj mentioned a few years ago on Nadal playing a bit too many matches and thereby risking serious games along with injury scares. I am sure he will get time to ponder over it and arrive at the right decision for him. He is a lively player to watch and I hope to find him rejuvenated before the next grand slam.

Sport is exciting for this reason. Just when we thought the tables are in order, we get to see a surprise from an unexpected corner. Now the room look different. Are we in for more shuffle? Let us wait for the action to continue…

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