World Cup 2010

Midway through the Group Matches, following are my quick thoughts:

(01) Wow, Yellow Cards and Red Cards are being handed out like candy. Even stars like Klose and Kaka are not spared. There has been some Oscar-worthy acting going on 🙂

(02) Powerhouses like Italy, England, Germany and Spain are struggling. For the sake of awesome knockout matches, I wish there are no huge upsets by teams who cannot keep up the performance levels later on.

(03) Argentina and Brazil (forget the last 20 minutes of the game with Ivory Coast) looks strong.

And finally, the Vuvuzela is a bit annoying 🙂

Is Federer GOAT when Nadal has had his number?

Roger Federer has won 16 Grand Slam titles, reached the Finals of 6 others (where he lost to Nadal (5) and Del Potro (1)). He had reached 10 successive Grand Slam Finals, another run of 8 successive Grand Slam Finals, 23 successive Grand Slam Semifinals, 24 successive Grand Slam Quarterfinals (ongoing streak) and last but not the least, has been No:1 for 285 weeks, 1 week less than Pete Sampras’ overall record.

But there is that lingering doubt about whether he can be annointed as the Greatest Of All Time (GOAT) when he is being thumped in the head-to-head by another significant competitor in his own era, Rafael Nadal. Nadal currently owns a 14-7 record against Federer. Nadal has won Grand Slams on all the surfaces, Clay, Grass and Hard Courts. He has beaten Federer in 5 of the 7 Grand Slam Finals they have played and the only 2 losses were at Wimbledon, when he was still learning the ropes on grass. Nadal is only 24, with atleast another 4 years of peak tennis left. He can easily win another 4-5 French Opens. This would take his tally to 12 (he currently has 7 Grand Slams, 5 French, 1 Wimbledon and 1 Australian). Throw in a couple or more other Grand Slams, we are talking Federer territory here! Please note that the only Slam he has not won, US Open, is not a far stretch for him. He has reached multiple Semifinals. Nadal has also overtaken Federer in Tennis Masters Series victories. Many of Federer-Nadal matches makes it appear that Federer is in a trance, trying to outhit Nadal from the backcourt, backhand to Nadal’s looping forehand twisters (Nadal is a lefty player).

Following is my take.

– Nadal’s head-to-head of 14-7 contains a 10-2 record on Clay, his best surface. Without a doubt, by the time he retires, he would be considered the greatest clay court player of all time. It is more a testament of how Federer is the solid No:2 Clay player of his time, that Nadal holds such a record. I.e. most of the time Nadal has made the Finals of a Clay tournament, Federer was his opponent. In a wierd way, if Federer was not the No:2 Clay player, his head-to-head would not be so bad! If he was a lousy Clay player, his head-to-head would have been 5-4, in his favor!

– Other than the period from March 2008 to Jan 2009, Nadal has not been able to dominate the game as Federer has done from February 2004 till January 2008 (almost 4 years) and set up streaks like the ones mentioned above. Note: This does not mean Nadal cannot put up such a streak from now on. As I mention, he is only 24!

– Tennis (the No:1 ranking and Grand Slam titles (the main barometer)) is not a one-on-one game. It is a game of tournaments, with a wide variety of opponents.

Calling Nadal GOAT (over Federer) is akin to annointing Charlotte Bobcats the NBA Champions, because they have thumped the Los Angeles Lakers in their head-to-head matches.

In my opinion, it takes continued/sustained excellence to be called GOAT.

Though I prefer Federer’s game a notch more than Nadal’s and am a bigger fan of Federer, I have a lot of respect for Nadal’s records, his abilities and above all, the way he conducts himself. His interviews give a lot of insight into how he respects his opponents.

Driving through open terrains – A thing I most love about USA …

While making the 1-hour drive to Brentwood (California), for our annual fruit-picking day, I was reminded (again) about why I love driving through the wide and far-reaching roadways of USA. I find it so relaxing and invigorating to see these vistas while having relatively less traffic to deal with. Of course, driving on the freeways 880/280/101/680 during peak traffic is not what I am referring to here. I am referring to “away from the cities” driving experiences. If you havent tried it, I would strongly encourage you to try it.

As mentioned elsewhere, I have driven through most of USA. There are a few places left, which I will cover in the future. Some of those enjoyable drives, of the top of my head:

– Drive from Bozeman, Montana to Rapid City, South Dakota

– Drive from Cleveland, Ohio to Milwaukee, Wisconsin

– Drive from Portland, Oregon to Seattle, Washington

– Drive from Las Vegas, Nevada to Albuquerque, New Mexico

– Drive from Boca Raton, Florida to Key West, Florida

– Drive from Memphis, Tennessee to Atlanta, Georgia

– Drive from Manchester, New Hampshire to New York, New York

– Drive from Crater Lake, Oregon to Crescent City, California

and so on …

To me, even a wide open desert is a beautiful sight. When there is very light traffic (yes, and no cops around!), it is a true pleasure to drive on these good roads. When you cross a city or town, you do hit those slow traffic spots, but mostly, it is full zoom ahead. Of course, I have had my fair share of driving adventures:

– Ticket in Arizona

– Warning Ticket in Illinois

– Warning Ticket in Iowa

– A truly scary ride in the night, through Crater lake area, with sheer drops on one side

– Car trouble in Michigan

– 150$ fine for missing a 50 cent Toll Charge

and so on …

But that is what makes the experiences unique. Unlike in Europe/Asia, where the public transportation is very well run and well connected, in USA, it is almost impossible to survive without a car, unless you are living in a major Metro area (e.g. New York City). There are many places in the world, where having a car is a true luxury and probably a waste.

But while the conditions align, enjoy what one can do on the open roads!

On my Social Networking pages, I have posted “PostCards” taken during my many rides.