Thursday, May 29, 2014

French Open day 5

It was a normal outing in Paris on day 5 as there were no major upset, except Garcia-Lopez, Leonardo Mayer (who plays Nadal in third round) and Fernando Verdasco that went to 4/5 sets.

Young Donald Young who never had won a game in French Open defeated Italian Feliciano Lopez in straight sets. Young Dominic Thiem played some incredible shots but that wasn’t enough to breach Nadal’s defense. Thiem did break Nadal and has occasional success against Rafa but it was too much to ask from the young man to trouble the clay court champion. Nadal eased to third round beating Theim 6-2 6-2 6-3 registering his 61st victory on red clay. Nadal was high on praise on Thiem and said “He is future star, 100 percent”.

Last year finalist David Ferrer didn’t have much trouble beating Simon Bolelli, and British no1 Andy Murray got past Marinko Matosevic losing just 7 games. News is that Murray has found his new coach in Amélie Mauresmo though it hasn’t been officially declared yet. He has been playing without a coach after he parted ways with his former coach Ivan Llendl. Isn’t it interesting that a woman will be coaching a man? Though Mauresmo has coached Frenchman Michael Llodra before, who retired from singles event after he lost to Fernando Verdasco in first round.

In ladies side, Jelena Jankovic, Sara Errani, Petra Kvitova, Simona Halep and Ana Ivanovic all advanced to third round. British no2 Heather Watson couldn’t get past Simona Halep. British no1 young Laura Robson did not participate in French Open and will miss Wimbledon as well due to wrist injury.

Indo Pak express Rohan Bopanna and Aisam Ul Haq Quershi could get past Erlich/Melo and lost in straight sets. There was some good news as Sania Mirza with her German partner Cara Black advanced to pre quarter final beating Hantuchova and peers.

There are some interesting matches tomorrow: Milos Raonic vs Gilles Simon, Jo-Wilfriend Tsonga vs Jerzy Janowicz, Radek Stepanek vs Ernest Gulbis, Tommy Robredo vs John Isner (should be a good 5 setter), Taylor Townsend vs Suarez Navvaro. 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

French Open day 4.

Fourth day in Paris was very dramatic, as defending champion and world no 1 Serena Williams lost to Garbine Muguruza of Spain. This will surely give sigh of relief to Maria Sharapova who was denied his second consecutive Roland Garros title last year by Serena Williams. Before Serena, her elder sister Venus lost to Anna Schmiedlova in 3 sets. Had Both Venus and Serena won, we could have witnessed one more Williams affair in third round but that wasn’t to be.

In men’s side, there were not any upset so to say, but I am happy to see Radek Stepanek doing well. He defeated Mikhail Youzhny in four sets and advanced to round3. Djokovic, Federer, Milos Raonic, Jo Wilfred Tsonga and Tommy Robredo all sailed in straight sets.

Spaniard are doing well in French Open and it evident that they love playing in clay. Except Almagro, there are still good players from Spain are alive. It will be interesting to see how far Robredo, Bautista Agut and Garnollers Pujol go.

As I am writing this, Order of play of day 5 is not out yet, so it is still not certain whether Rafa gets to play in Chatrier or will he have to play in Lenglen again? He plays Dominic Theim of Austria in round2.

Let us hope we don’t see any major upsets tomorrow and Rafa is not troubled much against the he hasn’t played even once. 

A trip to Rishikesh – 24th and 25th May 2014

Five of us (college friends) planned a trip to Rishikesh. We started off from our place at 4 AM in the morning. We took our first halt at road side dhaba and had tandoor aloo parantha with dahi. I also got the chance to see sunrise which rarely happens. 

We then stopped at Patanjali Yogpeeth in Haridwar, Baba Ramdev Ashram. I was astonished to see the facilities provided in ‘Ashram’. There were big buildings and in each room they had installed ACs. A thought came to my mind that if we compile the list of richest saints of the world, Baba Ramdev will be at the top.

We had previously done the booking so we reached at the camp site around 2 PM. The camp site ‘The river view’ is 37 KMs from Rishikesh (3 KMs from Byasi). There were other sites which were near to Rishikesh but these were flooded with people. So if you want to be in the crowded place, book the place near by Rishikesh only. The charge per head was 1450 including Lunch, Dinner and next morning breakfast with Kayaking, Rock climbing, Rafting and Cliff jumping.

After reaching at the site, we had our lunch. And after half an hour of rest, we kayaked down the river. None of us were able to balance the canoe even for a minute. Then we played Volleyball for an hour and were able to defeat the opposition team (People who were at the same camp site) just once and lost 1-2 to them.

Gradually the started to wear off. We went to the river shore with our canes. The water was very cold there. We put it for better use. We spent 2:30 hours there chatting and laughing. It was the memorable evening with friends. We had our legs immersed in cold water and cold breeze was making the atmosphere pleasurable.

As the night wore on, they lit the bonfire and people started to gather there. As I was very tired so went to bed (inside the tent) early and missed the dinner which was very delicious (Or may be my friends were saying this just to tease me). They had both veg and non-veg in dinner while they served only veg in Lunch. Everyone was asleep by 10:30.

We had to wake up early for rafting but then we love our sleep more than anything (It is good to have at least one enthusiastic guy in the group so time can be utilized effectively). We woke up at around 8:00 and got ready by 8:30. (There was queue to use bathroom but we were late so did not have to wait for it). In breakfast, they served poori sabji bread butter and boiled eggs.

We reached the site where rafting has to be started around 10:30. As it was weekend and there were more people and had less no of rafts so we had to wait till the last group had finished their rafting.

As in one raft they accommodate 9-10 people, and we were 5, so there 4 people from other group and because of that we couldn’t enjoy as much as we would have liked to. So it is better to go in a group of 9-10 or confirm first hand if you want the separate raft. It was a 16 KMs track with 3 major rapids in between. It was really enjoyable ride especially when we had to face the major rapid and when raft stood still for a couple of seconds vertically. We finished it in 1 and half hour. The guide wasn’t a good one as he wants to finish as early as possible because people were waiting for their turn. So it is better to go on weekdays than on weekends. The good time to go is between Starting of March to End of April as after April it becomes very hot. And there is nothing to do except to be in water in day time.

After rafting we had our lunch in Rishikesh, which was very delicious. I can not remember the name but they served awesome Lassi. There is famous restaurant named Chotiwala as well but we did not have to go there as we were already running late.

We started off from Rishikesh at around 2:45 PM. We stopped by at a dhaba near Muzzafarnagar for tea and were startled to see they had swimming pool there. If you drive from Delhi to Rishikesh it is 6 KMs before Muzzafarnagar, and the name of the dhaba is ‘Picnic Spot’. They charged 50 rs per head for one hour. After the tiring day we relaxed there for 45 minutes and then had Aaloo paranths. One thing was very surprising for me as I asked the lad (who happened to be the son of the dhaba owner) that they were Muslims and had named the Dhaba as ‘Punjabi Dhaba’. Don’t get me wrong but when it comes to business people care about running the business and making profit out it.

As soon so we got in the car, it started to rain heavily and we opened the car’s window. The rain drop hitting on the face made the ride really enjoyable.

That was my first rafting experience, and I really enjoyed it.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

French Open day 2 and 3.

French Open has started and so has Rafael Nadal started his bid for 9th Rolland Garros title.  He had no troubles in beating his first round opponent Robby Ginepri of USA. Nadal bageled Ginepri twice in his 6-0 6-3 6-0 win over Ginepri hitting 27 winners in just 21 games. I would have loved to see more winners but was happy seeing him racing around the court.

While Wawrinka, Nishikori and Almagro are ousted in first round, we can not say it is going to be easy ride for Nadal for his 5th consecutive title in Paris. If he does so, he will be the first man to win 5 consecutive titles in the same grand slam event and will also be the first player to win at least one Grand Slam each year for 10 consecutive years starting from 2005. By doing so he will also equal Pete Sampras record and the gap will reduce to 3 with Roger Federer.

It was just 3rd day and we have already seen few upsets. Australian Open champions Stan Wawrinka, Chinese sensation and former French Open winner Li Na are already shown the exit doors. There are few potential young stars that could not make a mark this time. Grigor lost to Ivo Karlovic in straight sets while Bernard Tomic lost to Frenchman Richard Gasquet.

I am also disappointed that this time there is no significant representation from India. While Rohan Bopanna is playing with Asiam Ul Haq Quereshi and Sania Mirza is playing with Cara Black, there is no Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi this time. Somdev Devvarman could not win the qualifier with Purav Raja and lost to Aleksandr Nedovyesov in first round in the main draw.

So, Rafael Nadal plays young Dominic Thiem in round 2 who defeated Paul-Henri Mathieu in straight sets. Both haven’t played each other so far so it will be interesting to see how Rafa tackles this young lad from Austria.

Hope to see Grand Slam title no 14 in 2014!