Left field

The Reuters global sports blog

Zivojinovic: Novak’s greatest weapon is his mind

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SThe Davis Cup, where the pride of playing for the country is the overriding sentiment, has done different things to different players.

On Dec. 5, 2010, it transformed Serbian player Novak Djokovic’s career. Djokovic guided his team to the historic title victory against France on home turf in Belgrade. And from there began the fourth-longest winning streak in the Open Era. Djokovic went on to win 43 matches on the trot, going back to the Davis Cup final.

What changed in Novak Djokovic? “The Davis Cup victory helped Novak throw out all the dirty tennis aspects from his game,” said Bogdan Obradovic, who was the non-playing captain of the Davis Cup-winning Serbian team in 2010. “All the doubts and negativity were washed away from his mind. The victory triggered that confidence in him where he started believing he can be the champion player he always wanted to be.”

The Serbian team began playing in the Davis Cup under the name of Serbia only in June 2006. To inspire his team, representing a tiny nation of 7 million people, to win the most coveted team event in tennis was monumental. The immensity of the achievement can be measured from the fact that Roger Federer, perhaps the finest tennis player of all times, is yet to do it for his country, Switzerland.

Tendulkar’s retirement a boon not a bane

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While Sachin Tendulkar’s retirement may have been looked upon as the saddest chapter in Indian cricket, the fact remains that his exit can only work to the benefit of MS Dhoni’s emerging Test side.

There is no doubt about Tendulkar’s contribution to Indian cricket but as statistics show his impact was on the decline, more so in the last two years.

Importance of being Sachin Tendulkar

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For 24 years Sachin had been India’s happiness index.

If a common man, while wading through the struggles of his daily life, smiled, it was mostly when Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar took guard for India. All that has come to an end with his retirement.

India may never find another sporting icon who singularly succeeded in making the nation forget its faults – a unifying factor of rare stature. No player, in contemporary cricket, has evoked spells of pure joy with his craft and conduct for so long – 24 years. Life, for the nation of a billion people, will go on but never be the same again.

Life in the time of Federer and Tendulkar

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In sports, the fear of loss does different things to different people. It spurs athletes to greater heights; for spectators, it often changes the topography of their nails. In some, it induces mild depression.

Its inevitability is creeping into the minds of even the most stoic spectators. Soon, they won’t have Roger Federer and Sachin Tendulkar around anymore. What will be the world like without Federer and Sachin? Surely, the sporting world will move on, for no athlete is bigger than the game. But will it be the same again? Maybe not. Federer brought to tennis a “complete game”, rarely seen before. What made it even surreal was the ease and elegance with which he wielded his racquet.

Domination in ODIs a thing of the past

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Recent results in one-day cricket have not only made a mockery of the rankings but it has also injected some much-needed excitement in the format.

First, it was current No. 1 India, who lost to Pakistan (No. 6) at home, followed by third-ranked Australia, who fought hard to just level a series with visitors Sri Lanka. Then it was the turn of hosts South Africa to lose a three-match series to lower-ranked New Zealand.

from India Insight:

Defying Hitler and jostling for Goering’s autograph

    The Dutch broke his stick hoping to find a hidden magnet The Japanese suspected his stick was coated with glue Cricket legend Don Bradman gushed -- "He scores goals like runs in cricket" Adolf Hitler was so impressed with him that he offered him German citizenship and a post in the army

If an athlete's greatness is measured by the number of apocryphal stories about him or her, hockey wizard Dhyan Chand is in a league of his own.

Before every Olympic Games, India indulges in nostalgia about its hockey heyday and revisits the folklore around arguably the greatest hockey player ever.

Force India’s Hulkenberg drives me crazy

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By Amlan Chakraborty

“So help me God”.

Four innocuous words but it nearly unnerved me enough to back out of the whole business. I somehow scribbled my name in the indemnity form below those four words and the face of my three-month son instantly flashed before my eyes.

By the time my head was squeezed into what looked more like an astronaut’s headgear than a helmet, I was a bundle of nerves, kicking myself for agreeing to do something as silly as this.

Dravid hit the high notes despite playing second fiddle

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By Sudipto Ganguly

Rahul Dravid will go down in the annals of Indian cricket as a champion batsman who had no qualms about playing second fiddle during an illustrious 15-year career built upon the soundest of techniques.

A purist’s delight, Dravid will be fondly remembered as someone whose batting was as perfect as a coaching manual and the numerous rescue acts he performed would secure him a place on the wish-list of any international captain.

DRS in cricket…to use or not to use?

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By Sudipto Ganguly, India sports correspondent

The inconsistent use of the Decision Review System (DRS) has put the International Cricket Council (ICC) in the firing line once again, strengthening the already popular notion that the governing body is helpless against the wishes of its most influential member board – India.

As the rest of the cricketing world went up in unison in a huge appeal, like a stern umpire, India once again shook its head and refused to budge on the use of technology in the game.

Wanderers test will not match Newlands. But for better or worse?

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Last week’s crazy Cape Town test match between South Africa and Australia, where 23 wickets fell in a day and the visitors narrowly avoided the lowest ever test score, will go down in cricket’s esteemed annals.

They meet again at the Wanderers from Thursday. But would test cricket fans want to see a repeat?

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