Tennis 2003-2017 fantasy land with no limits!

If anyone in the ‘real’ world believes what is going on in tennis today and throughout the last 14 years or so is real? They are delusional!

Recently Genie Bouchard April 26, 2017 put it into perspective: ‘Maria Sharapova is ‘cheater,’ should be banned for life’
‘She’s a cheater and so, to me, I don’t think a cheater in any sport should be allowed to play that sport again,’ Bouchard told TRT World. ‘Unfair to all these players who do it the right way and are true’.

‘I think from the [Women’s Tennis Association] it sends the wrong message to young kids: Cheat and we’ll welcome you back with open arms. I don’t think that’s right and (she’s) definitely not someone I can say I look up to anymore because it’s definitely ruined it for me a little bit.’

All fables compiled such as; ‘Snow white and the seven dwarfs’, ‘Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf’, ‘Alice in wonderland’, ‘Land of oz’ and so on and so forth, can not fulfill the fantasy tennis is.

Recently the International Olympic committee punished Russia for doping violations and for state organized doping schemes. Well done, but is Russia alone? Very unlikely.

In tennis fantasy land, people are lead to believe the following:

– That a butterfly can change into a ‘lion king’ within weeks and during 4 consecutive years the ‘lion king’ barely lost a match. Thorn all opponents apart with summary scores and impossible short match length times. Of course the consequences were “mononucleosis”, sometimes known as ‘kissing disease’, strange thing about it, no-one the lion kissed got the ‘virus’. The WADA* believed it but, Scientists found a different link to ‘Mono’, EPO injections!

– While the ‘Lion King’ recovered and found other methods to revive his performance, a ‘Bull’ came to life, and the crowds were not happy but, the new hero was in town. This new fictional character, was harshly scrutinized by the press who became skeptical of such an impressive muscle package (the WADA* was not). The french made a parody out of it, but the record stood. The ‘Bull’ gets hurt several times and his reign is cut short.

– Logically ‘Merlin’ replaced the ‘Bull’, much to the discontent of the crowds who disliked the fact that he dominated both the ‘Lion’ and the ‘Bull’. ‘Merlin’ had plenty of explaining to do. What for the press was acceptable the ‘Lion King’ did during almost four years, ‘Merlin’ should not be able to do! Like, winning almost every tournament he entered in the calendar year! ‘Merlin’s’ explanations ranged from ludicrous food diets, nostril jobs, to lunar pods (the WADA* believed it)! Of course the ‘diets’ were unsustainable and the toll started showing with several near collapses on court. Realizing that his life was at stake, ‘Merlin’ changed ‘his priorities’ and started losing of course.

– To make Merlin’s feats credible, an over the hill 29 year old dark horse, that never had the stamina or the mental ability to hold steady for neither long matches, tough matches or Grand Slams, with the help of “Scandinavian miracles and potions” all of a sudden becomes the marathon man, the Grand Slam great slayer and the toughest mental player to beat! Wow!

– Lurking behind all of this fantasy was a darker type just waiting for this opportunity for years! ‘Gollum’, ‘you are my precious’, to show that he was ready to take the role, he who had never had won a single tournament on clay in his entire career, opened the clay season with 3 clay court tournament titles in a row! The reason was simple “National Lottery and Exchequer income was strategically invested to maximize the performance of athletes”. That lead to an helluva of titles and gold medals for the country (poor cheating Russians!), it was a great explanation, the crowds believed, (the WADA* too) and ‘Gollum’ took the throne. Nevertheless ‘Gollum’s’ reign was short lived and now the throne is up for grabs.

So in the sport of make believe, ‘Peter Pan’, ‘Tinker Bell’ ‘Captain Hook’ and the spirit of the forest got together and in 2017 revived the old ‘Lion King’ career with such powerful magic that ‘an injured’ old creature, with extensive ‘back problems’, ‘knee operations’, lengthy pauses without competition at all, was able to restart and destroy seasoned super fit much younger pros to win another Grand Slam title, this followed by two mind boggling wins in a row at ATP World Tour Masters 1000. Anyone familiar with Medical Therapeutic Performance Enhance Drug Use Exemption (TUE) knows why the injuries abound.

I made a parody out of this, but it is a very serious matter, potentially putting at risk the lives of cheaters and inducing younger athletes to follow the wrong path. Many athletes have already died in other amateur and professional sports.

The disproportion in handling doping offenses by courts and countries and different sports is abysmal. For example:

– Sprinter ‘Ben’ Johnson lost his Seoul Olympic gold medal, prize money and was disgraced.

– Cyclist Lance Armstrong lost all 7 of his Tour the France titles and had to return the prize money he earned among other consequences.

– Olympic Champion track star Marion Jones sentenced to 6 months in prison, two years of probation and community service for lying to federal prosecutors investigating the use of performance-enhancing substances.

– In tennis Peter Korda was caught, kept his Australian Open title and prize money. John McEnroe McEnroe says he took steroids unknowingly and he still has his titles and prize money. Andre Agassi Andre Agassi admits: I took crystal meth and lied to escape a drugs ban, Andre still has all of his titles, prize money and is still adored.

– Maria Sharapova was caught cheating with a drug called “Melodium” Maria Sharapova receives two-year ban for failing drug test ‘Sharapova has maintained since that she took the drug before it was banned and for health reasons only, on the advice of her doctor over a 10-year period’. Bottom line, Maria Sharapova drugs ban was reduced from two years to 15 months and she still has all of her titles and prize money.

What is the message tennis officialdom sends to other cheaters and young people?

We as members of society have more responsibility then blindly condoning and even adoring false role models because eventually our children will sooner or later fall victim.
The press is gutless and does not investigate for fear of losing their seat at the press conferences.

The federations and the governments do not care because the trophies and medals pile up.

The official professional organizations close an eye because it’s all about “big” money, TV rights, sponsors.

The sponsors do not care because it’s all about making money.
The organizations supposed to test like the WADA* are way under-funded and literally cannot stop multi-millionaire sophisticated cheater’s. “We are catching the dopey dopers but not the sophisticated ones” WADA director general David Howman.

My guess is the WADA* gave up and now is a firm believer in the tennis fantasy world, nods it’s head in approval and does not ask for A probes or B probes, blood samples or urine tests, because no one was tested and by the way, ‘only the Russians are cheating’!

*WADA World Anti-Doping Agency

The Sharapova Melodium Affair and Now Dr. Bonar!

As the dust was beginning to settle in the Maria Sharapova ‘Melodium’ Affair, another doping scandal rocks the world of professional sports with Dr. Mark Bonar doping allegations in sport.

An investigation by The Sunday Times has found that Dr Mark Bonar charges sports stars thousands of pounds for illicit drug programs.

Dr. Mark Bonar is a British trained GP with over 10 years experience working as a medical doctor and is a member of the Royal College of General Practitioners in the UK, at an anti-ageing centre called The Ultra-Wellness Clinic Knightsbridge.

This sounds like pretty familiar territory, another ‘Anti-aging clinic’ Biogenesis scandal broke out in 2013 when several Major League Baseball (MLB) players were accused of obtaining performance-enhancing drugs (“PEDs”), specifically human growth hormone, from the now-defunct rejuvenation clinic Biogenesis of America.

Also the December 2015 Al Jazeera report saying that many human growth hormone shipments were sent to N.F.L. Peyton Manning’s wife from an anti-aging clinic the year he had neck surgery. That drug is banned by the N.F.L. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/25/sports/football/peyton-manning-an-enigma-wrapped-around-a-return-to-the-super-bowl.html?_r=0

Anyway, according to a Sunday Times investigation, Mark Bonar – a London-based private doctor – charges sports stars thousands of pounds for drug programmes.

The newspaper says it has secretly filmed the medic claiming that he has prescribed performance-enhancing drugs such as with banned substances such as erythropoietin (EPO), steroids and human growth hormone to 150 elite sports professionals from the UK and abroad over the past six years, including:

several Premier League footballers
an England cricket international
British cyclists
tennis players

Dr. Bonar has told the Sunday Times, ‘he treated the athletes for medical reasons and not to enhance their performance’.

Dr. Bonar said that ‘in the past six years he has treated more than 150 sports people from the UK and abroad variously with banned substances such as erythropoietin (EPO), steroids and human growth hormone, and the sports performance improvements were ‘phenomenal’.

Whatever the circumstances which lead professional athletes to seek Dr. Bonar’s ‘treatments’, he categorically affirms, “They are well fully aware of the risks of using these medicines in professional sport and it is their responsibility to comply with anti-doping regulations.”

Never mind Dr. Mark Bonar and his potentially doped 150 professional athletes. What is the real truth? How many labs, anti-ageing clinics, sports doctors, Universities (like in Germany) are, were involved in the PEDs drug trade/programes with athletes?

Judging from a list of scandals recorded in the last few years, the situation is for serious concern; Doctor Luis Garcia del Moral now banned infamous drug pusher in tennis and other sports, than the Operación Puerto involving Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes where a Madrid’s Provincial Court ordered the destruction of the almost 200 blood bags which were stored as part of the anti-doping probe, the BALCO lab that provided steroids to several professional athletes, including baseball player Barry Bonds and track and field star Marion Jones, the Peyton Maning possible affair with the now-defunct Anti-Aging Clinic clinic Biogenesis of America and now Dr. Mark Bonar declarations.

The final question is, how many more drug scandals do we need to understand that the W.A.D.A., N.A.D.A. UK Anti-Doping Agency are purely useless, because their Anti-Doping efforts ‘World Wide’ are supported by annual Budgets which pale in comparison to professional athletes incomes and are totally inadequate for the gargantuan task at hand?

Take this for example, the total CONTRIBUTIONS TO WADA’S BUDGET 2015 were $29,057,399 (Million US Dollars), to cover Sports drug abuse World Wide.

The 2015 Top professional athletes incomes, Cristiano Ronaldo $75 (Million US Dollars), Lionel Messi $74 (Million US Dollars) Roger Federer a top Tennis player with a large endorsement cache made $67 (Million US Dollars), LeBron James $65 (Million US Dollars), Payton Manning $27 Million US Dollars). Novak Djokovic $48 (Million Dollars). Jordan Spieth over $50 (Million Dollars), according to Forbes Magazine ‘Maria Sharapova Earned $285 Million During Her Tennis Career’.

In all honesty, how can anyone in his right mind believe that W.A.D.A., N.A.D.A. UK Anti-Doping Agency et al are serious or can do anything about the world wide Sports doping epidemic?

Sergio Cruz
cruze (at) bluewin.ch

Maria Sharapova Tested Positive and So What?

For a few days there has been a big to do about Maria Sharapova testing positive at the Australian Open for a performance enhancing drug called meldonium.

My question is, ‘and so what’?

Has tennis ever shown any resolve in seriously testing their athletes in-spite of mind boggling performances in some cases comparable to EPO cases Lance Armstrong and “his friend” Floyd Landis? Of course not! The Scott Andy Murray illustrates it in clear terms; ­“I think all sports can do more,” he said. “It’s better than it was a few years ago, last year I got tested a lot but I’ve been tested twice so far this year, three months into the year, which is clearly not enough.”

From Dec 3 all the way through to Dec 29 2015, tennis players were alerted to the World Anti-Doping Agency’s updated prohibited list on multiple occasions. World Anti-Doping Agency founding president Dick Pound, said: “All the ­tennis players were given notification of it and she has a medical team somewhere. That is reckless ­beyond description.”

Now Maria Sharapova fails a drug test at the Australian Open 2016 for meldonium a drug she admitted using for at least 10 years while residing in the USA and that according to a spokesman from The United States Food and Drug Administration: “It is illegal for consumers to import unapproved drugs into the US.” Interesting to say the least.

A true test to the I.T.F. (International Tennis Federation) resolve is, if they ban Maria Sharapova for this 2016 positive test; will they strip Maria Sharapova from all of her Grand Slam wins for her past 10 year PED use? Or will they strip her of the runner-up title and prize-money at the Australian Open 2016 only?

In cycling Lance Armstrong was stripped of all 7 titles at the Tour the France and Floyd Landis also for his 2006 win. Others have gone to prison. Marion Jones is a standing example in Athletics.

Although meldonium was banned just recently, Maria Sharapova admitted using it (cheating) for 10 years!

In tennis there is a different standard, the WADA who claims to be the real “PED’s watch dog” after much fanfare in 2009 backed out of the “unannounced out of competition testing”. Why? After pressure mounted from players like Raphael Nadal ‘I want tennis to be as clean as possible, of course. This is crystal clear. But there’s room for maneuvering. You see, there’s a certain type of leeway.’ (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/tennis/frenchopen/5410931/French-Open-2009-Rafael-Nadal-is-no-exception-to-the-drug-testing-rules.html) and Andy Murray who in 2009 believed the revised regulations were too strict and called for a ‘more realistic and practical way’ of testing.

‘These new rules are so draconian that it makes it almost impossible to live a normal life,’ Andy Murray.

‘I may miss a flight or a flight could be delayed, yet I have to let Wada know exactly where I will be, even when I am resting. They even turned up at my hotel in Miami while I was on holiday.’ Andy Murray.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/othersports/drugsinsport/4540213/Andy-Murray-and-Rafael-Nadal-slam-anti-doping-protocol.html

After this and the Serena Williams ‘panic room incident’, when she ‘mistook’ a WADA drug tester for a dangerous intruder in her Los Angeles mansion and shut herself into her panic room, the WADA random tests on tennis players just vanished.

Maria Sharapova was caught and her ‘heart and diabetics’ are the culprits, in the Sidney Olympics 2000 the WADA chairman Dick Pound said; ‘It’s surprising how much of them are taking medicines,” you look at it and say, ‘How can all the finest athletes on the face of the earth be so sick?’

‘We suspect some of the medical reasons are faked,’ said Jacques Rogge, vice chairman of the IOC medical commission. ‘There are people misusing a number of substances. But you have to trust the signatures of the team doctor. They are registered physicians.’
http://www.independent.co.uk/sport/general/wada-concerned-over-use-of-medications-by-athletes-624382.html

Sixteen years later has anything changed? So what if Maria Sharapova was caught at the Australian Open 2016? In a couple weeks a whole series of signed medical affidavits will prove that Maria is innocent, gravely ill and meldonium was a must to save her life!

Anyway why make such a fuss over Maria when nobody cares about the Mononucleosis epidemic in tennis?

Ave, Maria!

Sergio Cruz

Note: Oh, oh! The can of warms is open! 17 March 2016, Yuliya Efimova Fails Doping Test For Meldonium; Russia Confirms Temporary Suspension” Meldonium has been said to have been taken by Russian athletes as much as Vitamin C, according Olympic figure skating champion Evgeni Plushenko on the Russian-24 broadcast network

Yuliya Efimova Fails Doping Test For Meldonium; Russia Confirms Temporary Suspension

Is Roger Federer from Outer Space?

The 2014 ‘magic’ run continues and Roger Federer at 33 yearls old is defeating players who are 8-10 years younger with ease and challenging Novak Djokovic for the ATP world rankings No:1 position merely 490 points behind Djokovic. Wow!!!!

After the 2013 decline, you have to be out of this world or almost have alien powers to perform like this!

What are other players of Roger Federer’s generation doing?…David Nalbadian (retired), Andy Roddick (retired) Marat Safin (retired) Lleyton Hewitt (Nr. 52 ATP), Nikolay Davydenko (just retired)!

A few years ago on July 6th 2009, Federer regained the No. 1 from his great rival, Rafael Nadal, Federer and had to wait 25 months for this spell at the summit of tennis. When it came, on 9 July 2012, it was a result of a stellar 12 months of success. Federer ended his third stint at No. 1 after 17 weeks for 302 total weeks.

Now once again Roger is looking to regain the Nr.1 position on the ATP world rankings.

Some say, ‘It is miraculous how he can play tennis at 33 as if he is 20’! I can not agree anymore especially after seeing the natural and understandable decline of 2013.

Roger Federer reversed the declining trend and at the Swiss Indoors 2014 was contesting his 11th Basel final, winning his sixth title in eight years and first since 2011.

The record speaks volumes for this out of this world performances.

Tournaments Roger Federer as won six or more titles:

Gerry Weber Open (Halle) 7
Wimbledon 7
Barclays ATP World Tour Finals 6
Western & Southern Open (Cincinnati) 6
Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships 6
Swiss Indoors Basel 6

Singles

Career record 989–225 (81.47% in Grand Slam and ATP World Tour main draw matches, and in Davis Cup)

Career titles 82

Highest ranking No. 1 (2 February 2004)
Current ranking No. 2 (27 October 2014)

Grand Slam Singles results:
Australian Open W (2004, 2006, 2007, 2010)
French Open W (2009)
Wimbledon W (2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012)
US Open W (2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008)

Other tournaments:

ATP World tour Career titles 82

ATP World Tour Finals W (2003, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2010, 2011)

In 2014, after a dismal 2013 captured a lone title in June at Halle (d. Youzhny) and a drop in the ATP world rankings to Nr6 followed.

Nevertheless, in 2014 Roger Federer came out of the gallows Nr.6 (for his standards) and improved to an ATP World Tour-leading of Wins 66- Losses 10, with 5 ATP Tour titles and 5 runners-up record.

This kind of total record, incredible raises in playing and physical performance level, has never happened in tennis or in any other sport. (Perhaps excepting Andre Agassi, but he later on confessed to drug use which for me invalidates any records, just like John McEnroe who said ‘unknowingly’ used anabolic steroids of the type used for horses during his career!)

The outlandish performances that go with this unbelievable record are comparable only to those of Lance Armstrong who won seven Tour the France cycling titles, to lose them all after getting caught for Doping!

‘It would be very special to reclaim No. 1,’ said Federer. ‘World No. 1 is what it’s all about in our game. With the year I have had and the amount of finals I have played, the level of tennis I have played, I am pleased to see that I have a shot. But having a shot and being there is two separate things. I am sure that Novak is going to come in very motivated, just after having a baby. I am very happy for him. There are clearly interesting weeks ahead.’

Yes indeed, it would be very special for Roger Federer to reclaim No. 1, but at 33 years old one has to wonder were does he get this ‘super powers’ from?

My view.

Sergio Cruz

How I Met My ‘Old’ Friend Mansour Bahrami!

Recently I have been in touch with my old friend Mansour Bahrami who brought back memories of decades ago which started in the obscure but rather beautiful mountainous region of Assam in the city of Guwahati.

Assam is perhaps the only Indian province that one could not reach by train or bus from India itself because independent Bangladesh, which separates the two, at the time restricted such traveling.

In a way the Assam region sitting at the foot of the Himalayan mountains with Bhutan and Tibet just north of it, had the same kind of air I was used to in the high plateaus of the African Manica region where I was born.

The Assam region at the very far north eastern part of India
The Assam region at the very far north eastern part of India at the foot of the majestic Himalayas

This was my first experience in the Indian circuit and continent although like India my native Mozambique is also blessed with the warmth and beauty of the Indian Ocean.

My decision to come to India was purely economical, a month previous to that I had just finished a stint of a series of ATP qualifying tournaments Barcelona, Teheran (qualifying played in Barcelona), Vienna, Stockholm and Oslo where I played some pretty close match in the main draw against Jeff Borowiak (USA) (link).

After arriving in Madrid I realized there was no way I wanted to go back to post revolution 25th of April Portugal. The Indian Circuit became more and more attractive as I saw myself without practicing for almost a month in Madrid and India offered me cheap tournaments with traveling, hospitality and expenses paid throughout.

After a few tele-faxes with the India Federation, I took a plane to Paris applied for a Visa at the Indian embassy, which was granted immediately (surprise, surprise, Portugal had no diplomatic ties with India since 1962). As a matter of fact in December 15th 1974 I was the first ‘Portuguese’ to set foot in India since 1961 to represent Portugal in official international competitions in India.

India and Portugal signed an agreement in New Delhi on December 31, 1974, which provided for the establishment of diplomatic relations between the countries and for Portuguese recognition of Indian sovereignty over Goa, Damao, and Diu. India lifted the trade ban against Portugal on January 2, 1975. The Portuguese President only in 1992 visited Goa.

To make my part of the story short, I am going to tell you getting to Guwahati was some sort of a miracle.

The trip from Paris to Bombay was uneventful and a chauffeur was waiting for me at the airport to take me to Mr. Jimmy Metha’s penthouse in the middle of Bombay. Here I must say Jimmy, like he asked me to treat him, and his charming wife were the most fantastic hosts I ever would have in 14 years of playing tennis. I much regret that Jimmy died a few years later on a plane accident in India.

After two days of rest in Bombay, I took the plane to Calcutta and here things really became interesting.

At the airport I took a taxi to the Calcutta Gymkhana Tennis Club, were the All India Eastern Grass Courts Tennis Tournament was being held.

Sure enough the taxi driver did know a few words of English but Bengali was his forte. After a nightmarish cab drive all over Calcutta (which gave me a small understanding of the song ‘Oh Calcutta!’) finally we arrived at the Tennis Club at about 22:00hrs in the evening.

Sure enough tournament organizers, restaurant, whatever closed just a bunch guys sitting in a large room enveloped in a cloud of smoke, reminiscent of a scene from one of Indiana Jones in a bar in Bhutan.

All I could get from that nonchalant group was the name of the players hotel and fortunately, I had told the cab driver to wait and I hopped back into it and on our way to the hotel (so I thought). After possibly having driven through all possible dark alleys in Calcutta, the driver finally confessed that he could not find the Hotel.

At this point I was exhausted and told him to go back to the tennis club, but I half English, half sign language he indicated to me that he wanted me to come to his house.

Reluctant but with no other choice, I accepted and surprise in less than 5 minutes we were at his house. In the poorly lit street I could identify a modest old brick building. I knew I was possibly in a slum somewhere in Calcutta, but I had no choice I could not walk out of the cab with 12 tennis rackets, a tennis sports bag and a suite case at about 2 in the morning, what would my chances of coming out alive of the slum, zero? Yes!

After paying the driver, I went into the house which was unlit, he touch signaled for me to wait, while he went to another room and there was some sort of commotion with many murmuring voices and than silence. The driver came to me and lead me into a room where there was a small span near a window where he indicated I could sleep there.

Sleep I thought? No way! So for the next 3 or 4 hours I had one of the most scary sleepless nights of my life. A large shadow of a person approached the place were I was at but every time I felt it coming I stood up in defensive mode and it went away.

Lucky or not I survived the night and at about 5:30 in the morning the sunlight started to show its warm colors, and the house, which later on I was able to find out, was about 50 or 60 square meter in 3 divisions.

The wife of the driver dressed in a simple sari and 3 little children and others came to the room and looked at me in wonderment. Perhaps thinking, either this guy has the testis of an elephant or is completely nuts!

So with sign language and a few English words the wife expressed her desire to offer me breakfast.

What came next almost brought tears to my eyes (it still does today). The woman made eggs, toasted some bread, gave me milk while the children watched. I ate thinking at every bite, these people are giving me the best they have and perhaps depriving themselves to do so.

Pulled out my vitamin c container from my bag and asked for ‘pani’ (meaning water in Hindi, I had learned it in Bombay) tossed an effervescent tablet into the water and I saw the kids eyes growing enormous. Of course 3 other glasses/cans came and large smiles and huge Shukrias (thank you) were expressed.

It must have been those kids first high, because after that they were running all over the place like the rabbit in the never ending battery commercial!

Yes, those people were poor, perhaps even abject poor but, in the end they were more generous to me than any rich man or woman I ever met there after, they gave me all they had, the best they had.

That was the most important lesson I learned in India and perhaps in my entire life, hospitality, generosity, selfishness, giving more than you can give.

In the end I gave some money and a few T-Shirts to the family and with tears in my eyes I said ‘Shukria’.

Went back with the taxi driver to the Calcutta Gymkhana Tennis Club, this time the tennis federation organizers were there and I was able to get all the info I need for Guwahati and I decided to fly the same day there.

In my trip from the Guwahati airport I saw a very tall fellow with very long light brown almost blond hair and a beard a true Jesus the Christ look a like, wadding in the middle of a stream.

Later on I found out it was Jim Logan an American who had adventured with his friend Arlo Elkins to cross the Afghanistan desert by camel and bus into Pakistan! Perhaps something worthy of Rudyard Kipling’s short story, ‘The man who would be king’.

Wow! After that my little adventure in Calcutta was not even worth to mention!

More surprises were to come included that some tennis players went to India just for the ‘pleasures’ of Indian grass, which I hated from the moment I smelt it coming out of one of their rooms.

Fortunately my friend and doubles partner Ross Hewitt an Aussie was not interested in that kind of stuff or any drugs at all so we were just fine.

Now, after well over a month without playing tennis, to my delight after a good night rest the next day I walked again on a tennis court. Well, a cow dung tennis court!

What a contrast just coming, from indoor tournaments like Vienna Open (carpet), Stockholm Open fast synthetic court, Oslo Open (Wood!), now relatively slow Cow Dung, goodness me, with just two days to get ready!

Well you do what you can do, so no complaining, shut up, practice, meet the other players, be friendly and enjoy the ride.

That’s in the Guwahati Assam Hard Courts Championships that I met my good friend Mansour Bahrami.

A young fellow at the time 19 years old, looking more like a mature 24 year old, with the build of an ox, hairy as a bear, with a large mustachio covering a gregarious smile and large forehead underscored by two dark brown playful eyes with an incredible ‘lust’ for a show or two.

Madani, Kakulia, Abib, Hewitt, Bahrami, Cruz, Saleh
Madani, Kakulia, Jovani, Hewitt, Bahrami, Cruz, Saleh

The ‘court jester’ so many now know from TV and at club exhibitions, myself and all other players on the circuit got to know on a daily basis.

Not withstanding our friendship started on the battle field, the tennis court we were drawn against each on the Guwahati tournament.

Our match almost did not start, cow dung tennis court surfaces are redone with liquid cow dung of course and the lines repainted with liquid chalk twice a day, early in the morning and at mid-day.

The court ‘the center court’ we were to play on, was just ‘freshly’ done that morning. As usual in my natural attacking attitude and aggressive play I started warming up close to the baseline line.

Not even five minutes into the warm-up disaster happened, I slid onto the still wet line and fell forward and with the momentum of the fall, I managed to scratch both of my knees on the ground ned in the next

Australian Open Final 2016 – Djokovic Vs Murray

What do I see?

Two men, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray, playing no different than Monica Seles 30 years ago on the baseline, same cross court battles, hitting the ball early (sometimes), taking on 2nd serves and staying on the baseline, same angles, same drop shots, same lobs, same fear of the net, no serve and volley, no bold attacks nothing new, nothing different.

Just two grown up men playing like girls! The only difference is that men have more power and wear shorts, otherwise if they wore skirts I would not know whether it was a Women’s or a Men’s final?

Not much separates Men from Women these days, no wonder with less work, best of 3 set matches on a Grand Slam versus men 5 set matches, women feel entitled to ask for the same prize money.

Are the boys going to start wearing skirts?

My 2 cents.

Oh! It is still time for you to learn about the tennis serve and volley some instructors and writers around the world still believe it can make you a better player.

Sergio Cruz

Comment: Oh…Boy! Was I wrong or what?! After all, the Girlz are already playing best of 5 sets at the Slams! :-))))))

No idea in which of the slams the photographer took this picture, although it seems to be at the US Open, but….surely enough, he had to use some pretty darn wide lens to get all of that fluff in.

http://happyslamtennis.tumblr.com/post/128634973092/so-graceful-thenutcrackerer-sabr


Sensible Roger Federer
Sensible Roger Federer in pink tutu. A joke by some wise cracker.

Oh….well…. if you cannot beat them……

Sergio-skirt
If you can beat them, you join them!

If you cannot beat them, you join them, as they say. Now I am ready to win a Grand Slam! Or?….

US Open 2015 Roger Federer and the sugar factory!

For a while I thought I was nuts to think that Roger Federer benefits from a latitude and bending of the rules no other player in history ever received.

Now I have proof that I am not nuts and that even Roger Federer thinks he is the beneficiary of great favors, you see and listen for yourself.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0NpO2l8FOhc

But, if you can not see or ear I wrote it in “Braille” for you only. 🙂

After asked a question about holding the most night matches won Roger Federeranswered:

“Well I did not know about it so it is very cool……aah…I guess here I would like to thank the tournament organizers just for putting me in the night session very often otherwise you cannot get a record like that….aah….of course I have enjoyed myself so many times so many years….” Roger Federer

Wow, now, please bring the ice cream for King Roger poor vassals playing at 40° centigrade!

Than in contradiction of being the beneficiary of night matches instead of grueling day matches at 11:00 o’clock in the morning/midday temperatures hovering 40 degree centigrade, Roger says this in the player press conference room:

Q. Retirements a record number for men in the Grand Slam. Does that tell you that the heat rule is inadequate?

ROGER FEDERER: I missed the beginning. Not quite sure where you’re going.

Q. There’s been more retirements today. Record number for men in a Grand Slam. Does that tell you that the heat rule is inadequate or that maybe some players’ preparation is inadequate?

ROGER FEDERER: How many pulled out because of heat?

Q. I don’t know. But we’re up to 12.

ROGER FEDERER: All heat related? I mean, you got to compare with the right things.

But clearly I’m surprised to hear that players are retiring because of heat. I mean, if you’re injured, it’s different and all that. But I’m sure from the 12 or 13 players that have retired, I’m sure there’s involvement with heat.

What I don’t understand, if that’s the case, we’ve been here in North America for some time. It’s not like, all of a sudden, hot. I mean, it was more on the warmer side, but it’s not like impossible, to be quite honest.

Really no excuse for that. I think everybody should be well-prepared. I know we don’t play many best-of-five-set matches all the time, so of course the body can react funny once you exceed the two-and-a-half to three-and-a-half hours of play. Mardy Fish, that’s an exception. He’s not been that well-prepared because he hasn’t had the matches in his body.

Other players, I don’t know where they come from. So there are exceptions to those players. Maybe some guys already came in too tired, whatever it was.

I think you have to analyze case by case. But I think other players should be so fit that heat really shouldn’t matter at that point, the ones we’ve been playing in.
Roger Federer.

Unfit and suffering from heat illness and cramping Jack-Sock was forced to retire from the US Open falling victim to the New-York heat-wave in the match against Ruben Bemelmans from Belgium.

Unfit Jack Sock falls victim to the NY heat-wave
Unfit Jack Sock falls victim to the NY heat-wave!

Temperatures in New Yorkare currently soaring into the early 30s, which means on court temperatures can be near or above the 40ies!

After benefiting from incredible latitude and favors from tournaments all around the world, Roger Federer should have just kept quiet, instead he chose to comment negatively on his fellow professionals. Very poor judgement for such an “hero” and champion.

Please, no more sugar for Roger Federer!

Sergio Cruz

Davis Cup Switzerland Wins Trophy!

Roger Federer produced a vintage performance to obliterate Richard Gasquet 6-4 6-2 6-2 and take the title to Switzerland in its maiden Davis Cup crown with a 3-1 win over hosts France on Sunday.

Roger Federer made more unforced errors than the gifted Frenchman – 24 to 21 – but hit an astonishing 62 winners, kneeling down before lying on his stomach after he wrapped up the match with a cunning drop shot.

Nevertheless, Roger Federer, ever since he withdrew from last Sunday’s ATP World Tour final on the 16 Nov 2014 with a ‘back injury’ and the words to the 17500 crowd in London; ‘It would be too risky at my age to do this right now and I hope you understand’, leaves a dark cloud of doubt on the whole Davis Cup final affair and many questions marring this victory.

Since Federer’s shocker withdrawal from the ATP World Tour final also with these words ‘but I just can’t compete at this level with Novak’. The world followed with anxiety the uncertainty of Federer’s participation in the Davis Cup final starting on Friday the 21 of November 2014 a mere 5 days after his ‘back injury’.

The ‘miracle’ recovery that issued, is what brings on all the questions which will follow on what Federer called ‘a ghost’ referring to the injury.

Ahead of the weekend’s Davis Cup final on Wednesday 20/11/14 Roger Federerwas ‘already’ practicing in Lille, France and according to the world press he showed few signs of his back problem, amazing indeed!

Questions:

– How can a man at 33 years old recover in less than 72 hours from a debilitating ‘back injury’, ‘ghost’ or ‘no ghost’, which lead to a default from last Sunday’s ATP World Tour final on the 16 Nov 2014?

– In the pastRafael Nadalhas been openly accused of using legal therapies to recover from ‘alleged’ injuries. Does this apply to Federer in what many in the German and world press have called a ‘Turbo-Heilung’ ‘Turbo-Healing’, ‘Wunder-Heilung’ ‘Miracle healing’, ‘Miracle’?

– In similar ‘injury’ cases, Prednisone and other corticosteroids can be used legally under doctors prescription and at the same time heal and boost athletic performance just like any steroid does, could they have been used? Or could a high performance chemical ‘cocktail’ have been used under the mask of corticosteroids? Who knows?

Ah!…of course not! The ITF post match doping tests would reveal that. Or would they? May be not, since it would be legal because Federer was ‘injured’ and under medical treatment after all.

– Isn’t this what we often read in Olympic years, that 80 percent of the athletes in the competition are ‘sick’ or ‘injured’?

The questions would end here if Federer’s level of performance would have stayed identical to the one on Friday againstGael Monfilsand throughout the weekend. Which would have been the natural consequence of any athlete ‘injured in the back’ especially at 33 years old, but that was not the case.

Further questions:

– Instead, after a dismal performance against Monfils, the next dayFedererplayed a supreme doubles at the highest level of his tennis, no sign of ‘back pain’ or any handicap whatsoever. Amazing that the back pain all of a sudden was gone?

AlthoughFedererandWawrinkawon Olympic doubles gold in Beijingfor Switzerland in 2008, they had lost the last four Davis Cup doubles they had played together.

In Lille the Swiss pair was on fire and did not concede a single break in the doubles and dominated the key points.

– Federer did play, solid Volleys, stretch volleys, jumped volleys, punching volleys, jumped overheads, forays across the net to put away punch volleys, great returns, powerful ground strokes, great serving, fantastic movement, almost error free, how was that such drastic improvement came about?

– Yet another miracle after the one from Wednesday with such early come back to practice after a ‘back injury’ on Sunday 16 Nov 2014?

– All of a sudden the serve speed, power and accuracy was as as good as on any best time on Roger Federer’s career. Top serve speed this weekend was clocked at 230Km or 142.915 miles an hour! How is this possible at all with a ‘back injury’ that was not even a week old?

We have to keep in mind that this is no spring chicken, this is a 33 years old tennis player with over 1223 matches on his back and a recorded back injury history, which makes recoveries from injuries, any injuries, a longer process, back injuries even longer and more complicated (not some odd 60 hour affairs).

– How can a demolished ‘injured’ 33 year old player lose in 3 sets on Friday, come back to win a tough 3 set doubles match on Saturday and have such a ‘transformation’ on Sunday that enabled him to crush Richard Gasquet in 1 hour and 52 minutes at the tune of an astonishing 62 winners and 7 aces?

– How was such a ‘transformation’ possible in less than 24 hours after the Monfils match on an ‘injured’ 33 years old man?

Or should we go back to the O2 Arena in London theATP World TourFinal 2014 on Sunday the 16.11.2014 at 18:00hrs and assume that the ‘back injury’ Roger Federer announced was a ‘ghost’ which never happened? That would be terrible wouldn’t it?

Of course, no one will ever be able to answer these questions and all what matters is what will be written on the record books, Davis Cup Final 2014 France 1 Switzerland 3.

Pity that such a dark cloud will be for decades in the memories of the tennis fans of today, that is until mere statistics will amaze future generations.

Switzerland is Happy, I am Happy for Switzerland and all its tennis fans, great win!

Stan Wawrinka was the true building stone of this exploit, he deserves all the accolades but, unfortunately it is rarely the case.

Congratulations Stan! You are not the last minute man who comes to support the team only when opportunity knocks, for more than a decade you consistently single handedly carried the Swiss flag high in lows and highs and represented your country with honor and pride!

Congratulations Switzerland!

My view

Sergio Cruz

Davis Cup – Roger Federer Saga Continues The ‘Back Injury’ Now ‘a Ghost’ !

After his loss against Gael Monfils, Roger Federer explained that the recent ‘back injury’ he suffered playing against Wawrinka last Saturday 15.11.2014 ATP Finals in London, began to ease the longer the contest went on.

‘It’s like a ghost’ Federer said, referring to the ‘back injury’.

‘It wasn’t all negative. I started to feel better as the match went on. That’s very encouraging,’

‘You don’t have to be in unbelievably excruciating pain but it takes a while for it to leave your mind. It’s like a ghost.’

‘But that’s why it was good for me to play three sets today. It definitely gives us a lot of information. I would think that I’m going to get better as the weekend goes on.’ Federer told a news conference.

When asked if he was able to play three days in a row, Federer sounded optimistic.

This all is in total contradiction of what Federer said to a despondent crowd of 17’500 people and millions on TV just 5 days ago when he defaulted the ATP Final against Novak Djokovic at the London O2 Arena.
‘It would be too risky at my age to do this right now and I hope you understand.’ Roger Federer said.

No I do not understand and can anyone understand? A ‘back injury‘ is not a ‘ghost’ and if it was ‘too risky’ at Roger’s age to play in London, why would it not be ‘too risky’ to play five set matches 3 days in a row in the Davis Cup in France just 5 days after the ‘ghost’ (as he says) injury in London?

Can anyone in his right mind explain that? I do not think so.

Read more: http://www.tenniscruz.com/the-atp-world-tour-final-2014-the-biggest-cop-out-of-all-time/
“I would be ready to do that if, as ever, it’s the best choice,” he said.

Sure enough to get the ‘ghost’ if not the monkey off his back, Roger Federer found a brilliant explanation:
“I know there are less risks than a few days ago, or less than this morning, so I’m making myself available for the team as much as I can, 100 percent, not only as a player but in whatever role I can play,” Federer said.

Great that’s explained, but I wonder what is the ATP who had to settle on 60% Refund for the 17,500 paying fans who watched a no Federer show on Sunday 16.11.2014 ATP Finals and probably with a much heftier bill from sponsors and TV rights.

The last statement from Roger Federer makes me wonder if we have two different individuals here:

1 – We have the Roger Federer who says “I’m there to support them and support the team. This is what I always do.”

Federer who played for Switzerland in the Davis Cup World Group first round only the second time since 2004, announced his decision to play the tie just a couple of days after Stan Wawrinka won the Australian Open 2014 and after Novak Djokovic announced he would not play the Davis Cup tie in Novi Sad, Serbia.

2 – We have the Roger Federer, who played for Switzerland in the Davis Cup World Group first round only the second time since 2004!

In contrast to Stan Wawrinka and his rivals Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic who have passionately chased Davis Cup celebrity in their younger years, 33 year old Federer has never made the Davis Cup his priority as he set about his record-setting grand slam quest as his main priority.
Returning to Davis Cup action for the first time since 2012, Federer recorded a comfortable singles victories against a weakened Serbian singles team Ilija Bozoljac and Dusan Lajovic.

3 – We have the Roger Federer, that after seeing Stan Wawrinka win the Australian Open, may have been worried if Wawrinka went on to take the Swiss into the Davis Cup finals or even win the title without his participation.

Surely Federer would have been labeled of being opportunistic if he joined the Swiss Davis Cup team later in the season to play the semis or finals that after Wawrinka single handed had brought them get there.

Now if this ‘back injury’, ‘ghost injury’, is anything like the one Roger Federer had at Wimbledon against . Julien Benneteau where after a self imposed 15 minute ‘back injury’ time Federer went on to beat the French player in 5 sets (Wow!) 4-6, 6-7(3), 6-2, 7-6(6), 6-1. And with the same ‘back injury’ went on to win 3 further 5 set matches and the Wimbledon title 2012!

Than it seems to me that the world of tennis believes in what it wants to believe in and ‘back injury’, ‘ghost injury’, ‘It would be too risky at my age’ or anything that Roger Federer does or says is ‘Perfect’. But like in the story by Hans Christian Andersen “The Emperor’s New Clothes” one day a child will cry out, “But he isn’t wearing anything at all!”

The ‘King is Naked’!

My view

Sergio Cruz

Roger Federer Miracle Back Injury Recovery Is Biblical!

Sunday the 16.11.2014 at 18:00hrs Roger Federer announced in the London O2 Arena, that he wasn’t match fit to meet Novak Djokovic and pulled out ahead of the championship match at the ATP World Tour Finals due to a back injury.

Leaving a crowd in excess of 17,500 at the O2 Arena in London and millions around the world watching at their TVs totally disappointed to say the least, not to mention the feelings of the ATP, tournament sponsors and TV advertisers.

The ‘injury’ was allegedly a back injury which according to Federer happened in the 3 set Tiebreaker in the match against Stan Wawrinka and ‘It would be too risky to do it at my age now’ (to play the final), said Roger Federer.

If anyone has had an injury of any sorts and especially a ‘BACK INJURY’, knows that at least weeks off the tennis court and months of careful therapy and recovery are inevitable.

Today the 19.11.2014, less than 72 hours after Federer’s withdrawal ahead of the ATP World Tour Finals due to a ‘back injury’, Switzerland’s Roger Federer took to the practice court at the 2014 Davis Cup Final in the Stade Pierre Mauroy, Lille, in France.

Roger Federer praticing  for the Davis Cup final 2014
Roger Federer praticing for the Davis Cup final 2014 at the Stade Pierre Mauroy, Lille, in France

This can only be explained in two ways:

1 – The Stade Pierre Mauroy, Lille, in France witnessed a miracle of Biblical proportions, something similar to when Jesus gave life back to Lazarus.

2 – Or…oh well, I do not want to go there…

After this miracle and a possible trouncing of the French Davis Cup team with 2 wins by Roger Federer in the singles, the Stade Pierre Mauroy, Lille, in France will have the same status as Lourdes.

Pilgrimages immediately will issue and I can already see the excitement at the Vatican now they will not only have the Papal Swiss Guard, but a future Swiss Saint too.

Well, to be serious about this, I hope that Roger Federer really did injure himself in London and will have the common sense not to play the Davis Cup final.

Anything other than that, will lead to a very ugly scenario on Roger Federer’s credibility which will in the end bounce to the ATP and a very sour group of sponsors, TV advertisers and the public in general.

In these days of miracle cures, incredible performances, everything is possible and in some cases corticosteroids which are a class of chemicals that includes steroid hormones, may be legally used to ‘cure’ athletes.

Nevertheless, with the kind of money Roger Federer has in the banks, I would not allow anyone to come within 100 miles of my precious rear-end with a syringe full of such poison.

Then again all Kings, Conquerors, Emperors ended up dying because of greed…

Tennis does not need that to happen to someone we all cherish and love.

My view

Sergio Cruz

Note: ATP Settles On 60% Refund For Sunday 16.11.2014 ATP Finals

Following the disappointment of 17,500 paying fans when the climax of the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals was curtailed on Sunday by Roger Federer’s injured back, tournament organizers have announced there will be a 60% ticket refund.

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