Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Thursday, February 3, 2005





sports watch

By Zulquar

Dripping with sweat in the sweltering Melbourne heat, Andre Agassi stands just behind the baseline, on his toes, knees slightly bent, every iota of concentration focused on his opponent standing on the other side of the court. The man on the other side Roger Federer flips the ball up into the air and ever so gracefully connects superbly with the ball, thundering down his umpteenth ace leaving Andre grasping at empty air. Another point, another game and the Federer express is on a roll.

This past week sports enthusiasts the world over, have been enthralled by events unfolding Down Under. Australia is just the place to be, if you are a sport lover with sublime tennis action in Melbourne where the first Grand Slam of the tennis season is in full swing. For Cricket lovers as well, the VB series enters its latter stages with the West Indies and Pakistan fighting over the right to face Australia in the finals.

It has been a week of outstanding tennis and what is good for supporters is that most to all of the seeded players made it through to the latter stages.

This was well illustrated in the Men's semifinals where the semi final line up showed Federer, Safin, Hewitt and Roddick. The Men's semis was an electrifying affair as both games went down to the wire and us viewers were treated to a slug fest as the players battled it out in style. When the battle ended and the dust cleared the men standing were Marat Safin and Australian home favorite Lleyton Hewitt. A mouth watering final is in prospect.

The Women's game also had some superb matches none less so than the Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova game. These two are shaping up to be real rivals and they served up am exhilarating display of tennis. Williams edged it in the third set tie break and will now meet Serena Williams in the final. Whatever else may happen, the Australian Open Women's title, will now be won definitely by an American.

As far as cricket is concerned, the VB series is serving up quite a treat. Although Australia has won all their games so far they have been driven to the wire by the West Indies who have in turn found it difficult against Pakistan. Even so the Aussies have been head and shoulders above the rest. Youngster Michael Clarke has been a revelation in the opening slot while new keeper Brad Haddin is outstanding behind the stumps and with a bat in his hand as well.

With the last two games of the group stages beckoning, Pakistan and the Windies are in a dogfight for the last position.

The West Indies position was strengthened Friday when an outstanding century by Brian Lara handed them victory over Pakistan. Arguably the best batsman in world cricket today Lara showed why he receives all his plaudits with an astonishing, at times out of this world, display of hitting that wooed the Adelaide crowd. He scored a sparkling 150 odd which included every shot in the book and some. His inning made the Windies victory a mere formality.

With the final and decisive meeting just around the corner Pakistan will be looking for revenge while the West Indies will hope that Captain Marvel can do it for them yet again.

For football lovers this was a week of interesting Cup ties, in both the Italian and English leagues. The Carling Cup saw a mouth watering tie when Ranieri's Chelsea met the old powerhouses of Manchester Utd. In a evenly matched game it was sad to see a late howler from United goalie American Tim Howard hand victory to the rich Londoners. The final of the Carling Cup will see yet again a meeting of the old guard and the new as Chelsea will take on Liverpool.

In the Coppa Italia quarterfinal, Inter Milan managed a late goal to win at Atalanta and thus retain their record of being the only unbeaten team in all of Europe this season. They look genuine contenders for the Coppa Italia trophy even though the Serie A is now all but mathematically out of their hands. Juventus and Milan lead the line there in a two horse title race.

Also, at the end of the January transfer window there has been little of note. The Spanish clubs have been the most active. The biggest scoop looks likely to be Real Madrid's capture of Tomas Gravesen. Also, Barca roped in former Milano Demetrio Albertini on a free and Argentinean hotshot Maximilano Lopez from Boca for only 6m Euros.

Well that about sums it up for sports around the world for this week. Hoping for more intense action in the days ahead (so that I can come up with a relatively exciting issue next time). Till then, best wishes for the new month.





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