The Reuters global sports blog
Some big names on opening day at Flushing Meadows, with a birthday win for Andy Roddick and a nervous start for fifth seed Robin Soderling.
It seemed an easy opener for defending champ Kim Clijsters, but a scare in the second set could have seen the first big upset at the last grand slam of the year. But the Belgian overcame Gerta Arn 6-0 7-5 in her first tie of the tournament.
The fresh young face of Melanie Oudin – a favorite at last year’s event – graced center court to brush aside her struggles of the past season and powered past Olga Savchuk 6-3 6-0.
But the biggest names in the game buzzed around the tennis world as Swiss master Roger Federer prepared for his highlight match of day one at the Arthur Ashe Stadium against Argentinian Brian Dubal.
The Toronto Masters Series has been very interesting this year for so many reasons. David Nalbandian will be a dark horse for the US open and none of the top men will want to play him. Andy Murray looked impressive all week serving well and taking the ball early using the width on the court and hitting his forehand well. He looks in the form that took him to the Australian Open final at the beginning of the year. Murray was sensational in the quarter-final against Nalbandian and even better against Rafael Nadal in the semis.
Roger Federer, on the other hand, was building up his form nicely this week. His first big match was against Tomas Berdych in the quarters, it was a rematch of the Wimbledon quarter-final. Federer won, 7-6 in the third. This is a very important time for Federer, he needs to get back to his winning ways and this surface probably is best as the court gives him a little extra zip, because of the heat and the speed of the ball. He is also making a fashion statement this week, wearing pink and so is Nadal. Not sure on the pink?!
The past five days have been a microcosm to why sports are so compelling. It is the dramatic stories that draw fans in, the underdog prevailing against insurmountable odds, that has viewers sitting alone and screaming in ecstasy at the television just as loud as fans in attendance.
North Americans call it “the greatest show on earth” but in reality not much of the world is really paying attention to the Super Bowl.
Sunday’s game between the Indianapolis Colts and the New Orleans Saints will be broadcast in 230 countries and territories but the evidence indicates that in most parts of the world few people will be organizing their days around the game.
The U.S. economy might be weak, but the Super Bowl still scores with consumers.
The CBS broadcast of the National Football League's championship game on Feb. 7 between the Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints should draw strong TV ratings, possibly challenging viewer levels not seen since the late 1990s.
"We're looking at a big rating," said Neal Pilson, former CBS Sports president and head of his own sports consulting firm. "The fact that the two conference championships got better than usual ratings usually indicates that there's a lot of public interest."
from Photographers Blog:
It certainly is the best seat in the house, but sitting close to the boundary of a cricket field does not necessarily ensure you would have a good time watching the match. Cricket is like a religion in India. An unusual game, that goes on all day even through lunch and tea. Naturally then, covering this game in India is like covering it nowhere else in the world.
At least four hours before a match, photographers start out for the stadium, winding through noisy, mile-long lines. The lines of spectators are so long that one wonders if the last man actually gets to see the full match.
from Raw Japan:
Eleven years ago I sat near a high school-aged Daisuke Matsuzaka as he used field glasses to watch a Japan-MLB All-Star game at the end of both leagues' seasons.
I wrote a story based on that image about Japanese wanting to know "How good are we?" It was a question encompassing more than sport, as the same doubts existed for Japan in terms of corporate or diplomatic might, while the way the nation usually measured itself was in comparison to the U.S.
The 2009 baseball season, which began with Matsuzaka and Ichiro Suzuki leading Japan to its second World Baseball Classic title and ended with Hideki Matsui winning the World Series MVP in helping the New York Yankees to the crown, hasn't ended that self-assessment. Instead it has widened it to "How good can we be?"
Matsui, whose decision to leave the Yomiuri Giants at the end of the 2002 was broadcast live across the island nation, hit a grand slam in his first New York home game but has been hobbled by injuries in seven seasons that may have made his Series heroics a Yankees coda.
Ichiro, who set the record in 2009 for most consecutive MLB seasons with 200 hits and delivered the winning RBI in the WBC title game, is the greatest baseball export Japan has produced so far, but his zen approach to hitting and perceived statistics orientation have not always resonated with fans or teammates.
Matsui, meanwhile, nicknamed "Godzilla" in high school for his power display at the national baseball championship, is less polished and a little more rough and ready. But he's a player that nary a cross word has been said or written about, rather a "slugging salaryman" portrayal whose team focus is absolute, who even hit his sixth game Series homer to the Komatsu banner in rightfield.
An MLB-insider told me after Game Six of the World Series: "Ichiro Suzuki will be elected into the Hall of Fame, Hideki Matsui will not. But Ichiro will never achieve what Matsui did last night."
Ichiro may not, but another Japanese player may, as the once distant fields of dreams across the Pacific have grown closer thanks to the countrymen's feats in 2009, with Japan's questions about how it rates becoming easier to answer.
Andrew Strauss had a bad start to his day when he and his team mates were evacuated from their hotel at 5 o’clock in the morning because of a fire alarm. Unfortunately, that was just the start of a black Friday for the England captain.After days of assessing the fitness of Andrew Flintoff, Strauss and coach Andy Flower finally decided that the inspirational all-rounder could not be risked in a five-day match and it was announced that he was ruled out of the fourth Ashes test.
Strauss took part in a game of soccer on the Headingley outfield and watched in horror as wicketkeeper Matt Prior collapsed with a back spasm before retiring gingerly to the dressing-room for treatment.
Sixty years after former baseball star Eddie Waitkus survived being shot by a 19-year-old female stalker (his life story became the template for Bernard Malamud’s 1952 novel “The Natural”), police suspect former NFL quarterback Steve McNair and former world boxing champion Arturo “Thunder” Gatti were slain by women they were once intimate with.
Less than two years after retiring from sports that brought them fame and fortune, McNair, 36, and Gatti, 37, are dead. McNair, who was married with four kids, was shot to death by Sahel Kazemi, his 20-year-old mistress who worked as a waitress at Dave & Buster’s.
The organisers say it is the third-largest sports gathering in the world behind the Olympics and the University Games. You might have thought the world would take notice, but it barely even attracts interest among the vast majority of Israeli sports fans.