On Other Sports

My Writing on Other Sports
Davis Cup snapshots: Rafael Nadal the star, Leander Paes-Saketh Myneni’s fight and patriotic fans

Davis Cup snapshots: Rafael Nadal the star, Leander Paes-Saketh Myneni’s fight and patriotic fans

Few athletes can bypass patriotic loyalties like Rafael Nadal. As much as this was a home tie for India, cries of ‘Vamos Rafa’ swam upstream like salmon and spawned a number of times in the night. And they were not coming from the Spanish block. Here were die hard fans, male and female alike, Indian citizens, who were merrily courting nasty glances and the occasional death threat, just to egg their hero on. Even the ballkids grinned with delight every time he passed a ball in their direction.

Don’t know Ramkumar Ramanathan? He is one of the players taking Indian tennis to the future

Don’t know Ramkumar Ramanathan? He is one of the players taking Indian tennis to the future

The secret ingredient to his steady success soup? Hard work under the Spanish sun. Michael Phelps and his coach Bob Bowman considered hours spent in the pool akin to making bank deposits, to be withdrawn at tournaments. Ramanathan had made some serious deposits in the Bank of Sanchez-Casal, and is now making withdrawals with cheques payable in India. “That’s why I can play so many tournaments without any injuries.” (That and the fact that he is 21.)

World Badminton Championships 2017: Nozomi Okuhara’s win over PV Sindhu earned her grudging respect of Indian fans

World Badminton Championships 2017: Nozomi Okuhara’s win over PV Sindhu earned her grudging respect of Indian fans

It was as if she spent a moment mustering every last ounce of determination in her spent body, and used it to fight for each inch at the back end of the match. From 11-11 in the decider, the two players went back and forth every point, taking it to 17-17. From there, Sindhu pulled ahead with a two point lead, but Okuhara cut it down.

Australian Open 2017: How Melbourne’s Federation Square watched Rafael Nadal roll back the years

Australian Open 2017: How Melbourne’s Federation Square watched Rafael Nadal roll back the years

On court, it seemed Nadal had no business winning that match. He hit 45 winners to Dimitrov’s 79. He had less than half the Bulgarian’s 20 aces. His first serve was on an average 13 km an hour slower, and his fastest serve was nowhere comparable. But this was a champion athlete; always chasing balls back in, taking the game deep, until his opponent had to defeat his own body before he could defeat Nadal.