Mirza, Karthikeyan and Lee
I managed to catch Sania Mirza's match yesterday live on Ten Sports. It was bloody disappointing as she was totally off color. There was huge crowd support for her, a fact that her opponent seemed oblivious to in the first set as she remained really cool ... in the second set, however she showed signs of irritation when people in the crowd repeatedly made calls when she was serving - "come on ... another one" - her second serve after faulting her first. Bad sportsmanship by the crowd and that might have been crucial coz in the second set, it was obvious the Serb was losing her cool ... but Sania on this day was just unable to get her game together.
The difference between the top players and the wannabe toppers is probably the consistency of good play. No doubt, Sania had played a great game to beat Kutzensova (I saw the point in the first set when Sania twisted her ankle ... man, it was a bad fall as Kutzensova wrong footed her) but against the Serbian player, Mirza played like a player who really doesn't belong. Make no mistake, there were the odd shots here and there that were breathtaking but they were too few to make a difference. Her service was pretty weak too but since I haven't seen her service a lot, I don't know if it was just an off day or her service is indeed a weak point. She does have a great forehand though. When it comes off, she hits blinders. But she showed her inexperience at this level by gifting away the match to her opponent ... unforced errors, double faults ... with that "ah, what a beauty" shot in between.
Anyway, the points she gathered from this tournament should be enough to get her into the seventies which in itself is pretty tremendous. Hopefully, she will only get better from here on. She has a good game that is build on power from the baseline. She needs to add consistency and avoid things like hitting the ball into the net or over the opponent's baseline for no reason at all ... I mean, under pressure in a point it happens but shouldn't happen just like that in a rally when the pressure is not really against her. Her volleying is pretty weak when she does venture to the net (which isn't much at all).
Sania seems to have gained herself a name among the players too even if its coz they know everyone has come to watch her. Serena Williams after her victory over Daniela Hantuchova joked with the crowd about their really having come to see Sania and not her.
Though it didn't get a LOT of publicity, there was this uproar recently over Brett Lee bowling a beamer to Brendon MacCullum in the recent ODI in NZ. Though Lee apologized on the spot to the batsman, NZ coach went to press threatening to launch a court case against Lee claiming Lee's constant beamers (supposedly this was his 4th in recent times) pose a threat to the batsman's safety. Now it seems the players have patched up with McCullum saying publicly that he had accepted Lee's apology.
Yuveraj seems to be having a cracking domestic season ... in the last game one day back, he cracked a hundred in the first innings and a quickfire 50 in the second to clinch victory for North Zone. Bhajji, Nehra and Balaji were all among wickets so I guess no one should be complaining in the series against Pakistan that they were rusty. Hopefully not.
In the Davis Cup, a shocker of sorts as Leander Paes (the playing captain of the team) decided to skip playing singles against the Chinese as part of the Asia-Ocenia group tie. At the last report, Mankad had won the first match in straight sets and Amritraj was leading the second match by one set when rain interrupted. Leander has really played his heart out for India in the past and somehow it isn't the same even if India manage to pull off the rubber successfully. Paes's commitment to his country's efforts can be judged by the fact that the more illustrious and famous Andre Agassi recently made the announcement about wanting to play the Davis Cup again for the US ... after a gap of 5 years or so.
Anyway, Karthikeyan made his mark in the 2005 season of F-1. He collected the first fine of 2005 for overspeeding in the pit lane stretch during practice. Its ok ... nerves ... with Jordan cars (think they have a Toyota engine inside), u never know if they will finish the race or conk out in the middle. Might as well make a mark when the car is running ... ;-)
Cheers for now. Here is wishing Karthikeyan tons of luck for his first run in F-1 this sunday.