Tag Archives: tennis

Aussie men’s tennis gets much needed shot in arm with Davis Cup win

Coors lightHaving languished in the doldrums for more than enough years (for that read since the mid 1970’s), Australian men’s tennis seems to be on the long road back. That recovery is evidenced not only in the better results during the recent Australian Open, but by the weekend’s 3-2 away win against the Czech Republic in the Davis Cup. Remember the Davis Cup? That trophy Australia has won on 28 prior occasions since it was first competed for in 1900. Recently we have not featured at the top level and even when we have, have usually come away empty handed. This is reflected in the fact that this was Australia’s first win in a Davis Cup tie in the Championship division since 2006.

We at Sportzfan Radio have been rather critical of Bernard Tomic’s seeming inability to keep his mind on the job and play at a level expected with a person of his talent. In Ostrava, Tomic certainly led by example and won both his matches giving him an impressive 14-2 win/loss singles record in Davis Cup play. The tie also saw the emergence of Thanasi Kokkinakis who won his first match and confirmed Australia can now call on a number of talented young players to champion the cause. Although Lleyton Hewitt was used in the doubles match with Sam Groth, Australia’s fortunes no longer solely rest on the ageing Hewitt’s shoulders.

Sure, it can be argued that the Czech Republic were weakened by injuries to Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek but Australia also was unable to select talented Nick Kyrgios due to a back injury.

A review of the men’s ATP rankings sees Australia with five men in the top 100 being Kyrgios at #36, Tomic at #38, Groth at #69, Marinko Matosevic at #72 and Hewitt at #98. Contrast this with the fact that several years ago, we did not have one player in the top 100 and it is easy to see why results have improved.

Australia now hosts Kazakhstan in a mouth watering quarter final and given the team’s form look set for a long run in the 2015 tournament.

Friday musing – World Cup, Wimbledon, Kyrgios & more…..

Chris Barwin HillsWell the World Cup continues to dominate the world sporting landscape with the quarter finals coming up this weekend. It is interesting to note that former winners in Germany, Brazil, Argentina and France comprise four of the eight places available and the Dutch are three time finalists, so there is a familiarity about the remaining participants. The real interest may come from those outside the usual suspects with Colombia given a real chance of knocking off the hosts, Costa Rica not without a chance against the Netherlands and Belgium were considered a good outsiders chance coming into the tournament. My tips for the quarter finals are Colombia, Germany, Netherlands and Argentina.

Turning to Wimbledon, I have said in the past that I am not a great fan of watching tennis, but I had to watch the abbreviated replay of Nick Kyrgios knocking off Rafael Nadal. I must say it was pretty exciting to see a young Aussie do that on the world stage and it was a bit of a shame that the scheduling meant he had to front up the next day to play again. After taking the first set he tired and fell away, but it would appear we finally have a junior star translating to the adult stage. It reminded me of Mark Philippoussis knocking off Pete Sampras at the Australian Open, but then losing the next round match. Philippoussis went on to produce some pretty good tennis, but probably did not go as far as his talent suggested he should.

I was bemused during the week to hear Eddie Maguire call for compensation for Collingwood due to the poor drawing fixture against Carlton last Sunday night. He has often trumpeted that Collingwood fans would turn up any time any place to see their team play, but in the space of three weeks they have had two poor drawing matches. The other game against the Bulldogs at Etihad stadium three weeks ago failed to get 28,000 spectators and that was an afternoon fixture under cover! Given Collingwood gets a lot of scheduling favours due to their supporter base, I do not think Eddie would have gleaned much sympathy from any of the other clubs.

Have a great weekend!

Friday musing – Essendon FC, the Hangar, Big Bash League……

Chris Barwin HillsWell my sporting highlight for the week had nothing to do with any particular sporting event, but rather a sporting ‘occasion’.

Last September, I entered a fund raising raffle for the Essendon Football Club. The ticket cost me $200 and it was to raise funds for their new high performance centre. I thought I had missed out on any prizes, but in mid November I found out that I had won a tour of the new facility out at Tullamarine, a meeting with the coach, Mark Thompson, a photograph with the player of my choice which was David Zaharakis and a jumper signed by the whole team.

Well on Wednesday I took two of my children and received my prize. The facility is quite amazing with an oval the size of the MCG and another the size of Etihad stadium, but the indoor training area, The Hangar is quite amazing. It has artificial turf and is about 50 x 60 metres so they could undertake drills indoors if required. The place is not complete as they didn’t get all the funding they hoped from the federal government, so no doubt there will be further fund raisers! They also have about eighty administrative staff out there so football clubs these days are big businesses. One of the things that was obvious that they need for the Hangar is air conditioning, it was probably warmer in there than it was outside!

The meeting with ‘Bomber’ and David Zaharakis went well and they were happy to have a chat for 5-10 minutes. Bomber seemed pretty comfortable with the coaches role which was good given his earlier reluctance. The jumper is worth more than the price of the ticket and once I get the photos I will think about getting it mounted and framed.

The entire thing took just over an hour and was over very quickly, but it was a memorable experience and we were certainly made to feel very welcome.

Before I head off to Hawaii next week, I will make one comment about the tennis, thank goodness for the Big Bash League!

Have a great weekend and I’ll be back on 14 Feb!

Friday musing…..the Ashes, Australian Open, Hewitt, Arsenal…..

Chris Barwin HillsWell the Aussies wrapped up the Ashes in record time and in the end it was great to win and win well, but it was something of an anti-climax given the meek way the English capitulated. Clearly their batting let them down throughout the series and the only ones who could put their hands up would be Stuart Broad and Ben Stokes. Michael Carberry was passable, but he got a lot of starts at the top of the order and only once went on to make a 50. He reminded me a bit of Usman Khwaja, not how he batted, but the fact he continued to get a start and didn’t go on and post a decent score.

One of the quirkiest statistics from the recent series was the batting performance of Nathan Lyon. He batted six times for sixty runs, but was not dismissed in any of those six innings and as a result did not have a series average. I am not sure about the record for the most consecutive number of “not outs” in Test cricket, but it must be right up there.

While the Aussies won the series 5-0, their batting was still brittle at times and the forthcoming series against South Africa will reveal how much progress has been made. It has been widely discussed how well Brad Haddin batted in the series and I think he was the first batsman ever to score greater than fifty in five consecutive first innings of a series. Certainly he was the first to do it in an Ashes series. If Australia need to rely on him and the tail to bale them out in South Africa we will be in for a rude shock. Rogers, Warner, Clarke & Smith all made two centuries in the Ashes series, but to be successful against the Proteas we will need more partnerships. I doubt we can win the series, but it would be good to be competitive.

Moving away from the cricket to the tennis, it was good to see Lleyton Hewitt win a tournament in Australia last weekend. I have never been a particular Hewitt fan, but there is no doubting his competitiveness, his passion for the game and his passion for the Davis Cup. He has battled a lot of injuries over the last five years and most other sportsmen would have given up by now. It is hard to think of too many former Number 1 players who have hung around well after their star has dimmed. Good on him and I hope he does well in the Australian Open.

Bad news about Theo Walcott from last weekend, but one small positive is that at least it happened in January so they can utilise the transfer window if they wish. Better news with Oxlade-Chamberlain fit to resume, Giroud & Ozil likely to play and Ramsay & Gibbs pretty close. It is time to extract revenge on Aston Villa after that poor start to the season.

Have a great weekend.

Friday musing – ashes cricket, Mitchell Johnson, Jacques Kallis……

Chris Barwin HillsAt this time of the year cricket is the most dominant sport with tennis just kicking off with a build up to the Aussie Open.

The Poms have finally won a toss and sent Australia in to bat. I remember the old ABC cricket books used to have a section devoted to captains who invited the opposition to bat. It is not all that unusual these days, with Michael Clark getting away with it in the Melbourne test. I went along on the first two days and up until the second session on day three, the Poms held the whip hand. From there Australia wrapped up the match over the next three sessions, a big surprise. The prevailing philosophy is still to win the toss and bat and I think that Alistair Cook should have done so in Sydney, but time will tell.

Mitchell Johnson was again awarded the Man of the Match award and that makes it three out of four tests this series, but Chris Rogers & Nathan Lyon must have been very close as well with Brad Haddin again performing well. I understand Johnson has the best percentage of Man of the Match awards to tests played of any Australian test player. Not a bad achievement for a sometimes maligned figure in Australian cricket. I think in the past he has produced herculean performances dispersed with poor performances, but in this series he has been very consistent and does not seem to be spraying the ball around as much.

Speaking of Man of the Match awards, the news that Jacques Kallis was retiring did not come as a great surprise, but you would have thought he would have seen out the summer with Australia due to tour there next month. Kallis is certainly one of the best all-rounders of all time and compares favourably with Sir Garfield Sobers who is regarded as the benchmark for all-rounders. Kallis has the record for the most Man of the Match awards in test cricket with 23 from 166 matches. A true great of the game.

I always thought that Shane Watson had the attributes to be a very good all-rounder and at times he has shown us what he is capable of, but a fragile physique has mitigated against him. Test wise I think his bowling and catching ability are up there with Kallis, but unfortunately his batting falls a long way short.

Fingers crossed for the 5-0 whitewash of the series.

Have a good weekend and happy New Year!

Friday musing – cricket, the Ashes, soccer, Arsenal……..

Chris Barwin HillsWell what good timing for a Musing with the Aussies securing the Ashes on Tuesday! I thought Australia were a good chance in the series on the back of some pretty encouraging performances in England earlier in the year, but I did not think we would win the first three Tests in good style.

I mentioned last week about the toss playing a big part in teams winning and the last six results in Ashes test matches have seen the team winning the toss and batting coming out on top. You would think that the team batting second should have the best of the batting conditions, but England have not capitalised at all and have trailed in each of the first three tests. So much so that Australia have declared four of their six innings to date.

Mitchell Johnson seems to be most pundits pick for man of the series so far, but Warner, Haddin and Clarke are not far behind and when you factor in the performances of Siddle, Harris, Lyon and Smith, you can see why Australia are winning. That is not to down play the performances of Rogers and Watson who have also been solid contributors. Bailey has saved his spot because the team is winning and they can afford to give him time to settle. He certainly did his job on Monday morning.

I think the performance of Nathan Lyon needs a special mention. He has been much maligned and I have been guilty in that regard, however, you look at his scalps so far in the series and he has picked up crucial wickets. In the last test he got Cook in the first innings and Stokes in the second who were their teams highest scorers. He has earned his spot.

I can now go to the Boxing Day test and enjoy the cricket. Some would say it would be better to still have the series alive, but it is like being 10 goals up on Collingwood going into the last quarter just knowing you can enjoy the game.

Last week I lauded the Gunners for making the knockout phase of the Champions League for the 14th straight year and then they go out and lose to Manchester City 6-3. That is a tennis score isn’t it? Man City have been irrepressible at home this year and I suppose you could look on the positive side and say “well at least Arsenal got 3 goals”. I think the fixturing so close to the away game in Italy may have had an impact, but for the top team to concede 6 goals it is a bit of a worry.

Have a great weekend and a very Merry Christmas and we will muse up again in the New Year!

Friday musing – Back to basics with umpiring decisions……

Chris Barwin HillsDue to work commitments getting in the way of a good time, I didn’t see or hear much about the first day of the first Ashes test yesterday so I don’t know if there were any controversial decisions. But that got me to thinking about the Decision Review System (DRS). When it was first introduced I thought it was a good idea, because the umpires were coming under increasing scrutiny due to the technology available to the television broadcasters. Taking into consideration what happened in England in the last Ashes series, I think the system should be scrapped and it should return to just adjudicating on run-outs and stumpings. It would seem the DRS has created more issues than it has solved. The umpires decision is final and it should remain so. If the technology reveals that umpires are making mistakes then get better umpires.

I think this also carries over to the AFL. The goal review system was introduced to avert the howlers like the Tom Hawkins goal in the 2009 grand final. From what I have seen, the camera angles are inadequate and so it is impossible to come to a definitive conclusion and it usually comes back to the goal umpire. I think that system should also be scrapped and we should go back to relying on the goal umpire’s decision.

There is a push for goal line technology in the world game and if the experience in cricket and AFL football is any guide I would avoid it all costs.

One sport where the technology does seem to work is in tennis.

Sportzfan Radio show #291 highlights

dan-butterlyThe Professor talks to Dan Butterly on US sport including Palace Malice winning the Belmont Stakes result 130609_121408 the NBA playoffs – he still thinks Miami will prevail 130609_121550 – in Major League Baseball he looks at the Mets and Yankees series and thinks the Mets just got hot for four games 130609_mets but he didn’t name Serena Williams as the best African American athlete representing the US 130609_serena

With Mark Fiorenti out of State the Professor and the Panel talk soccerferguson2 including Melbourne Heart’s signing of Harry Kewell 130609_kewell and whether Sir Alex Ferguson should be approached to head up Australian soccer 130609_ferguson.

The Professor also talks to Paul Dalligan about State of Origin 1 130609_origin1 and round 13 action in the NRL 130609_NRL round 13.

 

 

Sportzfan Radio show #264.2

@SportzfanRadio now available on iTunes!16 September 2012 264.2 – The Professor and the Gelding talk Davis Cup tennis and the tie between Australia and Germany with the winner to get back into the World Group. They then talk soccer with Mark Fiorenti. He discusses the Socceroos loss to Jordan in the World Cup qualifying tie. He also looks at the Champions League and Premier League. Paul Dalligan comes on to talk rugby league and the NRL finals. Paul tries to keep the lid on after the Rabbitohs big win and into their first preliminary final for some time. His Rabbitohs taking on the Professor’s Bulldogs and he sees a Rabbitohs win! He’s hoping to be at Homebush at the Grand Final in two weeks time. There is a discussion between the Professor and the Gelding on the SFL division one preliminary final between St Pauls and Chelsea Heights. They are critical of the VFL playing their Grand Final on a Sunday at Etihad Stadium.