Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Great shots, crazy shorts -- Wawrinka's Roland Garros legacy!

Forget the breathtaking backhands, formidable forehands and astonishing aces that Stanislas Wawrinka produced during his magnificent run to the French Open title -- it was his bizarre red and white checked shorts that stole the limelight on Sunday.

Where did he get the design? A pair of pyjamas tucked away in his father's wardrobe, or was it from a 1970's wallpaper still hanging on an old relative's house? Perhaps it was from a blanket handed down in the family over generations.

The hullabaloo over his "lost property" park-player outfit was not lost on the new champion on Sunday as he draped the baggy shorts over the dais in front of him, placing them next to the gleaming Musketeers' Cup.

"I know a lot of people talk about it, and it's quite funny that they won the French Open," grinned Wawrinka after joining the likes of Mats Wilander and Ivan Lendl in completing the boys' trophy-Musketeers' Cup double at Roland Garros.

A few days after declaring he was going to "swim, play tennis and then sleep in them", he announced that the star attraction of the 2015 French Open was heading for a new home.

"They will be in the museum of Roland Garros. You will see my shorts every day if you want," he added to hoots of laughter.

"Everybody talks about those shorts since I put them on. Apparently I'm the only one who likes it."

Jokes aside, Wawrinka was still struggling to digest the fact that he had won a second grand slam title, and did it by overcoming a player who had until Sunday, been unbeatable on clay in 2015.

Novak Djokovic was on a 28 match winning streak. The world number one had beaten nine-times champion Rafa Nadal and third seed Andy Murray to enter the final with a 16-0 record on clay this year.

The Serb had also beaten Wawrinka in 17 of their previous 20 meetings.

Despite the stats stacked against him, Wawrinka showed that what happens in the past does not dictate the future.

"To say that I won the French Open, it's something completely crazy," said the 30-year-old.

"Winning this one is really special, playing Novak here in final, the number one player. He won almost everything since beginning of the year.

"I'm still surprised the way I played, because I think I played amazing today. I was really nervous but I didn't choke. I was always going for my shots."

A slow-starter who won his first major at the Australian Open 18 months ago, Wawrinka added: "It's quite strange when I tell myself that I have an (Olympic) gold medal, the Davis Cup and two grand slams. It's quite amazing. Never expected that so late in my career." 

Monday, 8 June 2015

"Stan-the-Man" outmuscles Djokovic to lift maiden French Open title!

World No.9 Stanislas Wawrinka claimed his second Grand Slam title and maiden French Open crown after beating world No.1 Novak Djokovic 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 in the final here on Sunday.

Djokovic's dream of completing the career Grand Slam went in vain as the Swiss outplayed the eight-time Grand Slam champion in a four-set thriller here, thus claiming his second Grand Slam crown after winning his first in 2014 Australian Open.

Wawrinka staved off an immediate break point in the opening game of the match, and a pulsating 39-shot rally punctuated a hard-fought hold for the Swiss.
But Djokovic's efforts to take a first-set lead would not be thwarted two games later, breaking to love when Wawrinka double faulted down 0/40.

With former World No. 1 Gustavo Kuerten and Bjorn Borg in attendance, along with Mansour Bahrami and actor Clive Owen, Djokovic, with some top shots, claimed the first set 6-4.

Wawrinka came back strongly in the second set, winning a pair of break chances to take a 3-1 lead.

With Djokovic serving at 4-5 30/0, the Swiss struck a sublime return on a leaping kick serve and laced a backhand winner.

A backhand unforced error would give Wawrinka his sixth break point of the match - and first set point - and this time he would not let it slip, forcing the top seed to misfire from the baseline after a grueling exchange of backhand power. Four straight points from 30/0 down for the eighth seed and the match was drawn level at a set apiece.

As the third set began, the Swiss continued to apply the pressure on Djokovic. But the World No. 1 was ruthless with his back against the wall, saving an additional three break points in the second game.

With the momentum vacillating between the two competitors in the early stages of the third set, Wawrinka saw another opening on Djokovic's serve and finally converted.

A near-flawless return game granted him a 0/40 lead behind two roped backhand winners and he would break to love, pulling ahead 4-2. He ripped 15 winners and won 19 of 21 first serve points in the third, claiming all six points when venturing to the net.

Wawrinka's fortunes at the net would change momentarily in the second game of the fourth set as a netted approach followed by a backhand error gave the Serb an immediate 2-0 lead.

Djokovic would consolidate for 3-0, but that's where his run would come to an abrupt end. Wawrinka reeled off 12 of the next 15 points to break back and draw level at 3-all.

An ill-advised Djokovic serve and volley on a second serve at 4-all deuce gave Wawrinka his 15th break point of the match.

The Swiss would not be denied the break, nor the match, converting on his second championship point at 5-4 with his 60th winner of the match, a rifled backhand down the line.

With the title, Wawrinka also become the sixth former Roland Garros boys' champion to win the men's title.

Barcelona beat Juventus to take Champions League glory!

Barcelona completed the Treble with a 3-1 win over Juventus in the Champions League final.

Barca, who had already won the Spanish title and the Copa Del Rey, won their second Treble in six years, becoming the first team to ever do it twice.

Ivan Rakitic gave Barca the lead very early on only for Alvaro Morata to equalise against the run of play. But Barca were not to be denied as Luis Suarez put them back in front and Neymar made sure with the last kick of the game.

Barcelona went in front after only three minutes and 22 seconds, Juventus having no answer to the Spanish side's speed of thought on the ball.

Neymar's first touch was poor but he showed great awareness to find a late run into the box by Andres Iniesta, and he needed only a moment to flick a pass into the centre of the area for the unmarked Rakitic to dink the ball past Gianluigi Buffon.

It was nearly two just five minutes later when Neymar fired over from outside the area.

Juventus came into the game a little after this, though it would have been difficult not to from that starting position. It was Barca who dominated possession as they always do, although they were restricted to half-chances for a period.

Juve wanted a penalty for a trip on Paul Pogba in the 35th minute. Jordi Alba made the challenge, it was clumsy but Pogba was fouled outside the area and fell into it -- though the referee waved play on.
Moments later Barca were back on the attack, Suarez poking a shot just wide from the edge of the box. And Suarez then brought the best out of Buffon, his snap shot palmed over the bar by the goalkeeper.

Barca should have doubled their lead five minutes into the second half, streaming forward on a 5 vs. 3 break from a Juve corner. But the Spanish giants did not work the counter well, and eventually Suarez had to stab at his shot, which Buffon turned around the post.

Messi then fired over after some wonderful one-touch football. Juve were struggling to stay in the match, and the second goal seemed a matter of time.

The second goal did come, but against the run of play at the other end, in the 55th minute.

A wonderful back-heel from Claudio Marchisio played Stephan Lichtsteiner into the box, with his low cross into the centre finding Carlos Tevez to spin expertly to force a save out of Marc-Andre ter Stegen. But the keeper could only parry the ball out as far as former Real Madrid striker Morata, who coolly sidefooted home from six yards out.

Juve were growing in confidence now, and just after the hour Tevez fired over when in a promising position inside the D.

Just when the Serie A champions were getting on top, Barca retook the lead in the 68th minute. Messi burst towards goal though his shot was certainly not one of his best, but Buffon could only palm the ball into the path of the onrushing Suarez who rifled into the roof of the net.

Two minutes later Barca thought they had a third when Neymar headed home. Juve players were incensed about a handball as the Brazilian ran away to celebrate, and the fifth official behind the goal backed their appeals. Replays showed the striker was unlucky, as he headed the ball onto his own arm rather than controlling it deliberately.

Pogba had a fine chance to equalise in the 79th minute, but could only head onto the roof of the net.
Marchisio forced a good save out of Ter Stegen in the closing minute of the 90, but as Juve pushed for the extra time it was Barca who scored again with the last kick as Neymar netted.

Serena beats Safarova to win French Open!

World No.1 Serena Williams clinched her 20th Grand Slam title by beating Czech 13th seed Lucie Safarova to claim the French Open here on Saturday.

American Serena needed two hours and one minute to win 6-3, 6-7 (2-7), 6-2 at Roland Garros.

Safarova was playing her first Grand Slam final. She put up a spirited fight despite losing the first set. She led by a break in the deciding third set but Williams utilised her vast experience and kept her composure to win the last six games.

Serena, 33, became the third player - male or female - to win 20 major singles titles.
Only Germany's Steffi Graf on 22 has won more since the open era began in 1968, with Australia's Margaret Court collecting 24 between 1960 and 1973.

It looked like it was going to be an easier day at the office for a while for Serena - after just over an hour on the court she found herself up a set and a double break at 6-3, 4-1, even going up 40-15 in that game - double game point for a seemingly unstoppable 6-3, 5-1 lead.

The match turned in a big way from there. Safarova dug out of that double game point and ended up winning five of the next seven games to push the second set to a tie-break, and after she raced through that tie-break, she raced out to an early 2-0 lead in the third set - Williams was in real danger.
But like she has done so many times in her illustrious career, she fought back to win six games in a row to edge Safarova.

An elated Williams spoke of her relief at winning a difficult match.

"It got really complicated today," Williams said.

"I was getting a little bit nervous, and Lucie was just playing great. She was a magnificent opponent. She was playing very aggressive and she had no fear."

"To win my 20th Grand Slam title at Roland Garros is very special for me because I haven't always had the most success here. I want to thank all of the fans - it's just a dream that I've won this title," she said.

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Sepp Blatter resigns as FIFA president!

FIFA president Sepp Blatter on Tuesday announced he will step down from football's governing body amid a corruption scandal, and also called for an extraordinary congress "as early as possible" at which a successor will be elected. 

The Swiss announced his decision at a hastily-arranged press conference on Tuesday after his secretary-general Jerome Valcke was earlier implicated in the US Department of Justice's investigations into a $10 million payment to indicted former FIFA vice-president Jack Warner, reports

"I have thoroughly thought about my presidency and the 40 years FIFA has played in my life. I love FIFA more than anything else and I only want to do the best. I decided to stand again for election for the good of football," Blatter said.

"My mandate does not appear to be supported by everybody. This is why I will call an extraordinary meeting. I will organize extraordinary congress for a replacement for me as president. I will not stand."

"I am now free from the constraints of an election. I will be in a position to focus on profound reforms. For many years we have called for reforms. But these are not sufficient."
"We need a limitation on mandates and terms of office. I have fought for these changes but my efforts have been counteracted."

Blatter has been president since 1998, and was re-elected for a fifth term only four days before his resignation.