The Reuters global sports blog
By Greg Rusedski
The Davis Cup final between Spain and Argentina was always going to be a great tie. The atmosphere was electric due to the huge Argentinian contingent in Seville who were present to support their team. Both the Spanish and Argentinian fans got into the tie and with 26,000 plus spectators the atmosphere was more like a football match.
The tie all depended on how well Juan Martin Del Potro played on the opening day. The feeling was that he had to win his opening match on day one for Argentina to have a chance to win the tie. No one was going to beat Rafa on clay, and the only player to have done so all year was Djokovic. The other problem for Del Potro was that Nadal and David Ferrer were 25 and 0 on clay in Davis Cup. Yes, Nadal and Ferrer were a little tired after the ATP World Tour Finals but playing on clay at home was a huge advantage. Nadal looked physically strong at the ATP World Tour Finals but was unlucky to have picked up a stomach bug and never recovered properly for the event. This was bad news for the Argentinians because he was going to take out his frustration on the clay courts of Seville.
Nadal won the opening match easily against Juan Monaco to get Spain off to the perfect start. This meant Juan Martin Del Potro was under immense pressure to win. It was Ferrer and Del Potro’s first meeting on clay. Their head to head was two a piece, Ferrer came through in five sets after being down 2 sets to 1. Ferrer is a terrier and never gives up, Del Potro physically fell away in the fifth set while Ferrer seemed to only get stronger – the lack of matches played by Del Potro really hurt him.
On the other hand Nadal and Ferrer have had lots of matches coming into the tie, proving that practice can never substitute match play for sharpness on the big points. In the doubles, Argentina’s Nalbandian and Schwank beat Spain’s Verdasco and Lopez to send the tie to a final day. In my opinion Spain’s captain, Albert Costa made a tactical error picking Verdasco to play instead of Granollers. At the moment Verdasco is not playing well. This would have been a big mistake had Del Potro won on the opening day. In the end though, when you have Rafael Nadal to play on the final day in the first singles you are going to get your decisive third point. Nadal found a way, as always, against an inspired Del Potro to clinch Spain’s fifth Davis Cup title.
We got our season back pointed in the right direction with a 4-2 Week 12 but now the always-interesting Week 13. The Lineman has had some bad luck this season but expecting only good things this Sunday and a first 6-0 of the season.
Record: 37-35. Last week 4-2; Pick of the Week: 10-2
PICK OF THE WEEK
San Diego Chargers (4-7) at Jacksonville Jaguars (3-8) (Line Chargers minus-2.5)
The Chargers have zapped me so many times this season I am starting to feel like a Tazer test dummy.
Kimi Raikkonen’s return to Formula One after a two-year hiatus has enthused media, fans and rivals alike. But the question remains — does the Iceman’s comeback mean a cooling of double world champion Sebastian Vettel’s hopes of being red-hot favourite again next year?
Almost certainly not. Raikkonen’s return is certainly a good thing for Formula One. For the first time ever, the sport will see six world champions line up on the starting grid.
By Greg Rusedski
There was a lot going on in the press at The ATP World Tour Finals before the event started. The press asked Roger Federer who was the favorite for the event. The press had implied that Andy Murray was the favorite because of the three tournaments he had won in Asia. Federer answered this question by saying that neither he nor Novak Djokovic had played in Asia so how could he be the favorite? Federer came into this event having won the last two tournaments of the year, this event on five different occasions and also as the defending champion. This set up the tournament in a great way because the only way to settle this discussion would be on the court.
The two groups were Group A; Djokovic, Murray, David Ferrer and Tomas Berdych and Group B; Federer, Rafael Nadal, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Mardy Fish. Group B was the more interesting and stronger group.
Not bad last week as the Lineman continued to undo some of the damage done by fill in Wichita Lineman in Week 10.
So keeping with the Thanksgiving theme, no turkeys among this week’s picks.
from Reuters Soccer Blog:
Three Premier League defeats in four games and Champions League last 16 qualification compromised. The last few weeks have been very tough for Chelsea coach Andre Villas-Boas.
Previous managers Jose Mourinho, Luiz Felipe Scolari, Avram Grant and Carlo Ancelotti were dismissed seemingly for less by ruthless owner Roman Abramovich.
from Photographers Blog:
By Jason Reed, Larry Downing and Molly Riley
Hey football fans… imagine walking past the solid steel doors guarding the locker room outside one of the National Football League’s most treasured teams and standing inside watching 60 professional athletes preparing to take the spotlight in front of 70,000 expecting Baltimore fans.
Talk about fantasy football coming true; that ultimate “back stage pass” was given to Reuters’ photographers Jason Reed, Larry Downing and Molly Riley from the Baltimore Ravens as an early Christmas present last December, extending them complete photographic access of their cheerleaders during the production of an in-depth multimedia project by Reuters entitled, “Ravens Rule the Skies.”
from Photographers Blog:
By Suzanne Plunkett
British sports fans are a serious bunch. When it comes to football (they never call it soccer), many would rather lose their home than miss their team score a winning goal. Club allegiance is often demonstrated with tribal passion - influencing tattoos, clothing and even choice of marital partners.
When American football makes a rare appearance in London, it's somewhat of a surprise to see the seriousness of the sport replaced with a more frivolous obsession: cheerleaders.
By Greg Rusedski
The Paris Masters was going to determine who was going to be the last players to qualify for the ATP world finals in London. The last few places were up for grabs and all the players that were in pole position ended up qualifying. The top eight for the field ended up being Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray, Roger Federer, David Ferrer, Tomas Berdych, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Mardy Fish.
The other story of the week concerned Djokovic and whether he would play after shoulder problems in Basel. If he didn’t play he would have missed his commitments for the master series events and it would have cost him over 1 million pounds in bonus pool money. He did play!