Monday, November 26, 2012

Martina Hingis & Martina Navratilova face-off in Adelaide

MARTINA Navratilova - winner of 59 grand slam titles - is coming to Adelaide and she won't just be playing tennis.
The Sunday Mail can reveal Navratilova, as well as Swiss legend Martina Hingis, will be the first women to compete in the World Tennis Challenge when they take to the court at Memorial Drive from January 8-10.
They join legends Pat Cash, Mats Wilander, Yannick Noah and Henri Leconte for the three-day event.
While she's here, Navratilova said she would take the chance to push one of her pet issues - the legalisation of gay marriage.
"I am always involved in that debate - when is that going to be decided?" she said on the phone from Paris this week.
"That (the debate) was going on when I was at the Australian Open in January. I don't know what they are waiting for. It's just a matter of time."
While the format for the event is yet to be finalised, Navratilova, 56, will be playing against and with Hingis, and the pair will also compete in mixed doubles.
So, can she beat the 32-year-old Hingis, the winner of five grand slam singles titles and one of the most graceful players of all time?
"At singles, absolutely not," Navratilova admitted. "She's got 20 years on me, I don't think so. "I have played a bit against her (Hingis) and I love it.
"I played singles with her in Liverpool last year on grass - mostly it's been doubles or mixed doubles. It's great to be on the court with Martina."
WTC co-director Mark Woodforde said he was "ecstatic" Navratilova and Hingis had signed on.
"We've been discussing adding women for a year now," he said.
"We don't want the product to become worn out. We want to stay one step ahead."
Woodforde said tournament directors drew up a hit-list of women's tennis legends last year that included Navratilova, Hingis, Steffi Graf, Chris Evert, Monica Seles, Lindsay Davenport and others.
But after seeing the interest John McEnroe generated among older fans at this year's event, Navratilova was always at the top.
Woodforde first mentioned the tournament to the Czech-born great at last year's Australian Open and eventually got her on board.
He wants to sign four female players for the 2014 event.
The State Government recently extended its sponsorship of the event for three years and Tourism Minister Gail Gago said signing the two Martina's was a coup.
"Martina Navratilova and Martina Hingis are true stars of the game and I know thousands of fans will join us in welcoming them to South Australia," she said.
For the past four years, Navratilova has lived in Paris with her partner, 41-year-old Russian former beauty queen Julia Lemigova.
The relationship has given Navratilova, who came out as a lesbian in 1981, an "instant family".
"My girlfriend has two kids, so now I have two kids, too," she said. I didn't have to give birth, so that's good."

Thursday, November 22, 2012

ITF Boss criticises Federer

Francesco Ricci Bitti, president of the International Tennis Federation (ITF), has criticised Roger Federer and Andy Murray for their doubts on the organisation's anti-doping programme.

But the ITF boss also said that he is evaluating doing more tests next year, particularly out-of-competition blood tests.

"You know the players, they like to talk. A few years ago, the same players were complaining because they were being tested," Ricci Bitti told dpa in an interview.

Federer and Murray have expressed doubts about tennis's anti-doping programme in the wake of the Lance Armstrong case that has shaken cycling and sport in general.

"I feel I am being tested less now than six or seven years ago," Federer said in London earlier this month.

"I agree with Andy, we don't do a lot of blood testing during the year," Federer said.

Ricci Bitti, a veteran Italian sports official who is also a member of the executive committee of the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada), said in Prague during the Davis Cup final in which the Czech Republic beat Spain this weekend that what Federer said "could be" true of him, since testing is allocated by drawing lots.

"But I don't think they are right," he said.

"Still, they help us by saying that, because it allows us to move in the direction in which we want to move. But it's a bit strange. They change their minds a lot," Ricci Bitti said.

He admitted that the ITF is evaluating increasing the number of doping tests in the sport and even implementing a biological passport programme.

"Yes, that's true," he told dpa. "Over these few weeks we have been working on creating a programme that retains the same quality and has a few more tests, especially out of competition.

"Defining 'out of competition' in tennis is harder, because 'out' is rather before or after competition. But anyway we'll try to increase the percentage of tests done out of competition, blood tests and the number of tests in general," he said.

"These are the three areas on which we are working with our partners (the Grand Slams, the ATP and the WTA). But we need consensus, because increasing the programme means a lot of money," Ricci Bitti warned.

According to the ITF's latest statistics, 2 150 tests were carried out in the sport in 2011, of which only 131 were blood tests. Of the latter, only 21 were done out of competition.

"We think our programme is absolutely good. In terms of quality, our work is highly appreciated," Ricci Bitti said.

However, he was willing to accept some criticism, saying "I think we are a little bit exposed in terms of quantity."

Ricci Bitti thinks some changes would be good, but they would not solve all problems.
"I am not as pretentious as to think that we can catch all cheats," he said.

"But I am confident that tennis is a clean sport. We need to improve our programme, but knowing other sports I am reasonably confident that we cannot have an Armstrong case. 

That was a highly organised and scientific system. That is not the case with tennis," Ricci Bitti stressed.

Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles by the ruling cycling body UCI after the United States Anti-Doping Agency said in a report he was involved in the "most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen."

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Roger Federer 2012 report card

Having turned 30 during the previous year, there were questions over whether Roger Federer would remain at his competitive best throughout this campaign. 

As the months progressed, the now 31-year-old went on to prove his doubters wrong as he held the number one spot in the world rankings for a time, while also ending his two-year wait for a Grand Slam title. 

The season began in Qatar, where Federer reached the semi-finals before he was forced to withdraw with a slight injury niggle. 

That break allowed him to be fully fresh for the first Grand Slam of the year in Australia. It was during this tournament that Federer played his 1000th career match against Juan Martin del Potro in the quarter-finals. He saw off the Argentine and in doing so set up a semi-final meeting with his old foe Rafael Nadal

Despite taking the first set, Spaniard Nadal responded by winning the next three sets to book his place in the final ahead of Federer. 

Del Potro was then defeated in the final of Rotterdam Open, before he won through against Andy Murray to clinch the Dubai Tennis Championships. During that tournament Federer managed to not drop a single set.

He was then reacquainted with Nadal during the semi-finals at Indian Wells and on this occasion came out on top. John Isner was brushed aside in the final, taking Federer's titles for the year to three. 

The clay court season began with a win at the Madrid Open, which in turn saw him move to second in the rankings above Nadal. 

That sent him into the French Open in good form on the red stuff. However, he fell at the semi-final hurdle for the second Grand Slam in succession. This time Novak Djokovic got the better of the Swiss star in straight sets. 

Grass has always been regarded as one of Federer's favourite surfaces, and he had already won Wimbledon on six previous occasions. This time around he got the better of Djokovic in the semis, sending him through to the final against home favourite Murray. 

Brit Murray claimed the opening set, but Federer took control of the match thereafter and proceeded to claim the trophy in four sets. That success tied him level William Renshaw and Pete Sampras for successes at SW19. 

He returned to Wimbledon in July and August for the London Olympics. Again Murray was his opponent in the final, but this time around the Scot won through and claimed the gold medal, while Federer was forced to settle for silver. 

In preparation for the US Open Federer took the Cincinnati Open title at the expense of Djokovic. During that encounter he won the first set 6-0, before taking the second on a tie-break. 

It was at Flushing Meadows where Federer produced his poorest showing at a Grand Slam. He was drawn against Tomas Berdych in the quarter-finals - a match many expected him to win comfortably. Berdych had other ideas though and raced into a two-set lead. Federer pulled one set back, but his opponent from the Czech Republic eventually won through in four sets. 

That defeat was followed by another in front of his own supporters during the final of the Swiss Open. Having previously got the better of Del Potro, the Argentine came out on top on this occasion against the two-time defending champion. 

Ranked number two in the world, R-Fed headed into the season-ending ATP World Tour Finals ranked second. He got through his group with victories over Janko Tipsarevic and David Ferrer

The semi-finals saw him outclass Murray at the O2 Arena, resulting in yet another final match-up with Djokovic. 

Federer had several chances to win the opening two sets, but uncharacteristically spurned his chances. Djokovic took full advantage to win the tournament for the second time in his career. 

That defeat has led to more question marks over Federer's future ahead of the 2013 campaign. As he showed this year, it will take a brave person to bet against him!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Roger Federer not invited to Abu Dhabi event

Roger Federer is regarded as the best player the sport of tennis has ever seen but the organizers of Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi have ditched the Swiss Maestro from the exhibition event this time.

Federer had been a part of this season opening event every year since its beginning in 2009. However, organizers of the event did not invite the 17-time Grand Slam champion for the coming event, saying that he did not go well with this edition’s theme of the event.

Some people were saying that Federer’s omission from Mubadala World Tennis Championship was due to the end of his deal with IMG, which is the organizer of this event but the company said that that was not the case. IMG’s Managing Director for the Middle East and North Africa, Greg Sproule, cleared that the reason of Federer’s exclusion was the desire of organizers to invite past champions of the event.

Sproule said in an interview, “The principle reason is that we are celebrating past champions and Roger, unfortunately, hasn’t won the event. The Championship adores Roger and we cherish that friendship very much, but we are sticking to the theme of past champions. That was a very definitive, clearly cut decision.”

He added, “Roger will always be a friend of the Mubadala World Tennis Championships and we were very grateful of the first four years of his participation. He is very dear to us, and I mean that very seriously.”

Sproule also said that the organizers wanted to invite the youth, the ATP baton careers of future.

He went on to say, “But the celebration of champions and the youth of the ATP, which we have in spades here with arguably the six hottest young players in the game, was our aim from the outset. These guys have more Grand Slam victories ahead of them rather than behind them.”

Explaining Djokovic, Murray and Nadal’s inclusion in the event, Sproule stated that Murray has been invited due to a good number of UK citizens in UAE, Nadal was away from the tour for long time, so he needed a suitable place to make a comeback and Djokovic is the defending champion. Nadal and Murray are also past champions of the event.

When asked if Federer might be invited at the event in future, Sproule replied, “(Its) Never closed for anyone, Roger included.”

The event will be held on the outdoor hard courts of Abu Dhabi International Tennis Complex from December 27 to 29.

I really don't think Roger minds having a longer break before Aussie Open.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Martina Hingis regrets not winning Roland Garros

DOHA: Five-time Grand Slam champion Martina Hingis has said she regrets not winning the French Open title during her playing career.
Speaking in the ‘Stars Chat’ session at Aspire Dome yesterday, the 32-year-old said: “Not winning the French Open is the one regret in my life. I would like to turn back on time to win that.”
When asked whether she would swap an Australian Open title, which she won for three consecutive years (1997, 1998 and 1999) for a French title, she replied: “Yes, definitely.”
The Swiss star, who also won the Wimbledon and US Open titles in 1997, said one of the key reasons why she became successful in tennis was because she had the support from her mother.
“You have to grow up in an environment where people support you,  to be successful in your career,” said Hingis, who retired in 2007.
 “You look at Roger Federer and  Rafa Nadal. They come from families who are involved in sport. It’s just part of being in that environment,” she added in front of people of all ages.
Hingis’ mother, a former tennis player helped the Swiss develop in the game as her coach and predicted the 32-year-old would win Wimbledon.  The former world number one achieved the feat in 1997, beating Jana Novotna in three sets.
Having made her professional debut in October 1994, Hingis rose to the top of the rankings, which she is proud of.  
She said: I am very fortunate to have been on top of the sport. I am very proud to have been number one in the world.”
The former tennis player spent a total of 209 weeks at the top. 
During her two stint period in the game, she relished competing against the William sisters. 
“I enjoyed playing against the William sisters because every time I played them, I had to bring my best game,” said Hingis, who is now coaching youngsters.
She also added that Serena, who has won 15 Grand Slam titles during her career has what it takes to rule tennis for the next four to five years.
“When Serena is on top of her game she is almost unbeatable. She can hit winners from any position. Mentally, Serena is a fighter and never gives up and wants to win,” said the Swiss. 
“She can be top for the next 4-5 years,” she added. 

Friday, November 16, 2012

Martina Hingis attributes parents support to her success

FORMER WOMEN’S WORLD number one tennis player Martina Hingis believes parental support is imperative to achieving success in the game.
The five-time Grand Slam tournament winner retired from the sport in 2007 after spending a total of 209 weeks as the top ranked women’s player.
Hingis won three Australian Opens, one Wimbledon and one US Open title, becoming the youngest ever world number one in 1997, aged just 16-and-a-half.
And the Swiss ace credits the influence of her parents for her rise to the top of the sport.
“I was really lucky and very fortunate to have a career like I had and have a mother like I did, I think that is the most important thing,” Hingis said.
“Now I really enjoy working with the young and upcoming players and trying to teach them about the experiences I had and to give a bit of my knowledge.
“First of all I had great parents who pushed me along the way and were very dedicated and there is a desire which is very important as well, so you have to have almost tunnel vision and focus on the game.
“I have profited from that today but back then it was hard because when you are 16,17 or 18, there are so many other distractions but on the other hand tennis has to be the priority and that for me was the most important thing.”
Hingis believes the influence of a strong support network is evident in the continued success of her compatriot, 17-time Grand Slam tournament winner Roger Federer.
“To keep the number one spot you have to keep working hard otherwise you will lose it very quickly,” she said. ”I think this is the problem today because you have to have the right guidance and support and the right people around you to do well.
“If you see Roger Federer, he has great people around him and that is why he is able to have such a long-lasting career.”

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Shania Twain gets ready for Las Vegas engagement

It was an arrival fit for a queen, and Shania Twain proved that she’s the reigning princess of country pop when she arrived on horseback for her official welcome at Caesars Palace this afternoon. In fact, the Canadian star followed a posse of 40 horses down a closed section of the Strip by the fountains at Caesars.
She laughed: “I could have gone riding all around town all day.” Caesars Palace President Gary Selesner quipped: “ I thought you were headed for the Mirage.” Shania added: “I am loving Las Vegas. We are being treated like gold. I am going to miss it whenever I take a break, and we haven’t even started the show yet.
“Our adrenaline is racing at the highest level. I am high on it. A lot of work is going into the show with new, never-before-seen elements. It’s going to be a very personalized show.”
It’s taken some 2 years since the first lunch to discuss a Las Vegas run to reach Shania’s Dec. 1 start of her 3-year residency deal. AEG chief John Meglen told me: “We are 75 percent loaded in with the show, and we are now working on the video projections and the computer automation. I’m really impressed with the sets. It all feels larger than life but at the same time very intimate, and that’s a tough thing to pull off.
“I’m realizing just how good director Raj Kapoor is -- a genius. He is leading the next generation of directors. The show is at 100 minutes right now, and we’ll probably have it at 110 minutes for opening night. It races along. It all goes so fast, yet it’s longer than other shows on the Strip. That’s a good sign. It doesn’t drop for a moment.
“I’ve seen the Marc Bouwer costumes. Every woman who sees Shania wearing them onstage is going to go wild for them. The gowns are incredible. It’s her trademark look mixed with some new ones, and they all become a major part of the show.
“With Shania joining our lineup of Celine Dion, Sir Elton John and Rod Stewart, I don’t have an empty week in the schedule now for two years, maybe not even an empty day to fill.”
Gary, who celebrates the 10th anniversary of the Colosseum in March, is just as happy: “Shania is doing big business. We’re literally sold out for her first run, and she’s already selling strongly for the second that starts in March. She will also help -- just like Celine -- Las Vegas recover from the recession.
“She changes the market again with her demographic fan followers. Caesars now has two of the highest record sellers of all time with Celine and Shania. We have the two sides of the coin. Celine is a world-class crooner with a huge palate of songs, and Shania is rural, urban and earthy.”
Raj told me he’s very comfortable with the show at this stage: “We’ve got 23 of her biggest hits, some full and some in a medley. She’s got six of the most extraordinary wardrobe changes. We have 13 people in the band and three singers. Her sister is a part of it, so Shania feels comfortable onstage.
“She’s a little bit nervous, but so very confident. We hit it off in 2 hours of meeting. I have been a huge fan of hers and always wanted to work with her. You will see and hear and experience things you have never seen before on any stage anywhere.”
We’ll have our full report, photos and videos right here at Vegas DeLuxe on Thursday, along with our full interview with Raj; our thanks to Las Vegas Sun photographer Christopher DeVargas and contributing photographer Erik Kabik for their quick and fast photo galleries today.
Shania said it best: “ I’ve been away a long time, and this is the most wonderful welcome. I cannot wait to start singing again for my fans.”

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Martina Hingis key note speaker at Aspire4Sport in Doha

ASPIRE4SPORT 2012, the Middle East’s leading sports business congress and exhibition, can confirm that former world number one tennis player, Martina Hingis, will be a key speaker at the event next week.

The Swiss tennis star, who won five Grand Slam singles titles and spent 209 weeks as the number one player in the world, will take part at ASPIRE4SPORT 2012 in one of the conference’s ‘Star Chats’.

Last year Hingis was named one of the ‘30 Legends of Women’s Tennis: Past, Present and Future” by Time magazine and she now joins an illustrious list of stellar sporting names attending ASPIRE4SPORT 2012.

ASPIRE4SPORT 2012 will attract some of the world’s top sports business experts to Doha, Qatar in November. 

Hosted in Qatar’s world class Aspire Dome from 12th to 15thNovember 2012, the third edition of ASPIRE4SPORT will welcome more than 3,000 delegates, including 500 sports industry leaders and 250 accredited media professionals.

ASPIRE4SPORT 2012 is the only event of its kind in the region and provides a unique occasion for sport’s leading decision makers in the Middle East and around the world to connect, network and capitalize on real business opportunities.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Roger Federer roars past Murray reaches ATP World Tour final

Roger Federer continued his love affair with the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals on Sunday by reaching the title match for the eighth time in 11 appearances at the season-ending championships.
On Monday night, second seed and six-time champion Federer will look to become the first player to win three straight titles since Ivan Lendl in 1987, when he takes on top seed and 2008 winner Novak Djokovic at The O2 in London. Federer leads World No. 1 Djokovic 16-12 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series.
"It's exciting, no doubt about it. I love playing against Novak," said Federer. "He's had a great year. He's had a great tournament so far... It is a big opportunity playing sort of the last match of the season, and facing off against Novak obviously is always special, especially here at the World Tour Finals."
Federer defeated third seed Andy Murray 7-6(5), 6-2 in one hour and 33 minutes in the semi-finals, hitting 20 winners and winning 13 of his 15 net points. Murray has now lost in the semi-finals on three ocassions.
The 31-year-old Swiss will be attempting to equal John McEnroe’s haul of 77 singles trophies for third-place overall in the all-time title-leaders list. Only Jimmy Connors (109) and Lendl (94) have won more titles in the Open Era (since 1968). By improving to 71-11 in 2012, Federer will also be bidding to win a seventh tour-level title.
A capacity crowd of 17,800 witnessed the 19th installment of Federer and Murray’s rivalry, which was a repeat of this year’s Wimbledon and London 2012 Olympics finals. Murray, with a poppy - embroidered on the left-shoulder shirt-sleeve - in observance of Remembrance Sunday, used fan support to break Federer in the opening game. By the fifth game, the two-time reigning champion was beginning to find his rhythm, despite the fact that Murray continued to mix up his tactics. Federer began to hold serve with little resistance. It spelled trouble.
“I started the match off very well,” admitted Murray, afterwards. “I was going for my shots a lot. I was playing very aggressive on the return. Then he started to serve a little bit better. I missed a few more returns. Then, when he got the break back, he started to play better. I hung on a little bit the end of the first set.” 
At 4-3, Murray recovered from 0/30, but Federer converted a break point opportunity by drawing his opponent out wide for a forehand error. When Federer won a third straight game for a 5-4 lead, the balance of power had shifted. The Swiss was eradicating his errors and moving smoothly across the court, while Murray was struggling to win his second service points. The set was decided on a tie-break.

Murray took a 3-1 lead, after Federer mis-timed a backhand wide but he quickly regrouped to level the score. A 13-stroke rally at 4-5, ended when Murray rushed a forehand down the line. Federer was outplayed on his first set point chance, but on serve he made sure. Each player lost just three of their first service points in the opening set, which lasted 62 minutes.
"It was obviously huge," said Federer. "Basically I really tried to pull myself together in this breaker today, where I thought I didn't play great in yesterday's tie-breaker first set against del Potro, and not being able to come back. It was obviously an important moment in the match."
Enjoying the support of a pro-Federer crowd, who had turned out in force with Swiss flags, the second seed used his forehand to great effect to recover three points on Murray’s serve at 1-1. Three drop shot errors by Murray, seemingly running out of ideas and energy, gave Federer a break point opportunity that he converted. Federer lost just two of his 16 service points in the set. He broke Murray for a third time in the match for a 5-2 lead. Three minutes later, Federer received applause from the crowd.
"Of course, I was looking at having lost the last two matches against him, so I thought it was up to me to change things around really and come up with a game plan that maybe was different than at the Olympics or Shanghai," said Federer. "The pressure was really on me. I'm happy with what I chose with my coaching staff today. Obviously the tournament's not over yet, I want to keep on playing well, but I'm happy that the offensive play did pay off and it gives confidence doing more like that in the upcoming match tomorrow."
“I think he played well,” said Murray. “I didn't think it was incredibly high standard in terms of length of points. There were a lot of quick points. I started the match well. He came back in [and] got the tie-break. Once he gets ahead, he's incredibly hard to stop. He tends to play better and better when he gets up. I feel like I gave him that advantage [at] the beginning of the second set.”
Murray had been trying to become the first British player to reach the final in the tournament’s history (since 1970). The 25 year old finished a memorable season with a 56-16 match record. He won the London 2012 Olympics gold medal, his first Grand Slam championship crown at the US Open and Brisbane International. The Scot was also runner-up atWimbledon and in three other finals.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

In Remembrance....

On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, Canadians are asked to pause in memory of the thousands of men and women who sacrificed their lives in military service.

At public gatherings in Ottawa and around the country, Canadians pay tribute with two minutes of silence to the country's fallen soldiers from the First World War, the Second World War, the Korean War, the Afghanistan conflict and peacekeeping missions.
(This Veterans Affairs map shows the gatherings for 2010.)
Also known as Veterans Day in the U.S., Remembrance Day was first held throughout the Commonwealth in 1919. It marks the armistice to end the First World War, which came into effect at 11 a.m. on Nov. 11, a year earlier.
It isn't a national holiday across Canada, but employees in federally regulated employees do get the day off. Several provinces and territories — including Alberta, British Columbia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Prince Edward Island, Saskatchewan, and Yukon — do observe a statutory holiday.

Canada's military and the First World War

Two minutes before the armistice went into effect, at 10:58 a.m. on Nov. 11, 1918, Pte. George Lawrence Price was felled by a bullet. Price would become the final Commonwealth soldier — and the last of more than 66,000 Canadians — to be killed in the First World War
They died fighting at Vimy Ridge, Hill 70,Passchendaele and Ypres — battles remembered for atrocious conditions and Canadian valour. In Ypres, Canadian soldiers were exposed to German gas attacks, yet continued to fight, showing amazing tenacity and courage in the face of danger.
In many ways, the identity of the young country was forged on those bloody battlefields.
About 650,000 Canadians and Newfoundlanders (the province then still a colony of Britain) had served during the war, beginning in 1914. The last Canadian veteran of the conflict — John Babcock — died in February 2010 at the age of 109.

Second World War

Between the declaration of the Second World War in September 1939 and the conflict's end in 1945, Canadians fought in Dieppe, Normandy, the North Atlantic, Hong Kong, during the liberation of Italy, and in many other important air, sea and land campaigns.
In total, more than one million men and women from Canada and Newfoundland served in the army, air force and navy. More than 47,000 did not come home.
Canadian troops played a crucial role — and made a mighty sacrifice — in the 1944 D-Day invasion and the Battle of Normandy, a major turning point in the war's Atlantic campaign. More than 5,000 were killed in the land invasion in France.
The Canadian Army went on to play a significant part in the liberation of the Netherlands, which ended in 1945. The Dutch, having suffered through an extremely harsh winter, enthusiastically greeted the Canadians and forged a strong friendship between the two countries that lasts to this day.

Korea and Afghanistan

Since the end of the Second World War, Canadians have taken part in dozens of United Nations peacekeeping missions around the globe, from Cyprus and Haiti to Bosnia and Somalia. Troops have seen active combat as well.
In Korea, 26,791 Canadians served during a conflict that raged between 1950 and 1953. The battles of Hill 355 and Hill 187, among others, saw Canadians fighting in swamps and rice fields, through torrential rain and snow, in the air and at sea.

In 2003, Canada marked the 50th anniversary of the Korean War Armistice by unveiling the Monument to Canadian Fallen at Confederation Park in Ottawa. The words "We will never forget you brave sons of Canada" are inscribed at the base of the monument, which also contains the names of all Canadians who lost their lives in Korean War service or subsequent Korean peacekeeping service.
Canada has steadily increased its military involvement in Afghanistan since the Taliban regime fell in 2001.
By 2006, Canada had taken on a major role in the more dangerous southern part of the country as part of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).
The fighting grew fiercer, and the casualty count rose. By November 2010, 152 Canadian military personnel had died in the country. One Canadian diplomat, one journalist and two Canadian aid workers have also been killed.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome frak yes!

By the gods, what took so frakking long?
On the one hand, I'm glad that "Blood & Chrome" is finally seeing the light of day (the first of 10 installments of "Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome," will debut on Machimimas Youtube Channel Friday; the entire thing will later air on Syfy at an undetermined date and have a DVD release as well).
On the other hand, is this any way to treat one of the great dramas of our time?
It concerns me that this project is finally debuting on a relatively obscure online channel with almost no advance notice. We waited more than two years for this? "Battlestar Galactica" was by far Syfy's most acclaimed series, and the drama was near and dear to my heart and to the hearts of its many fans. I wrote about it more than any other show ever (want proof? There are pages and pages of proof here.)
The long delays that plagued "Blood & Chrome" and the hasty nature of its arrival on the Web -- on a Web channel I've never heard of -- well, it doesn't really warm the depths of my Saul Tigh-loving heart. The show had a lot of special effects, I get that. But that doesn't fully explain why this spinoff sat on a shelf for two years.
The existence of the "Blood & Chrome" project, which follows young William Adama's experiences in the first Cylon war, first came to light way back in July 2010. In "Blood & Chrome," which was written by "BSG" writer Michael Taylor from a story by Taylor and "BSG" writers David Weddle and Bradley Thompson, an eager young William Adama (Luke Pasqualino) goes on a mission with a war-weary officer named Coker (Ben Cotton).
"It's a story that will take us to new corners of the 'Battlestar' world (or worlds), and yet it aims to be a very contemporary war movie in a lot of ways. I would say I'm thinking as much of Afghanistan and Iraq -- the reality of 'The Hurt Locker,' Sebastian Junger's 'Restrepo,' and similar movies -- as I am about about the largely implied past of 'Battlestar,'" Taylor told me in an interview in 2010. The movie is about "a young man's initiation into war: both the realities of war as fought by soldiers on the ground (and in Battlestars and Vipers), and the somewhat less real version portrayed in the media."
That sounded pretty exciting, and the network appeared to be high on the project as well. In the fall of 2010, Syfy said that "Blood & Chrome" had been upgraded, in a manner of speaking: It would function as "a backdoor pilot" to a possible Young Adama series on Syfy. Then a year went by, and I learned in 2011 Syfy executives had seen a rough cut, but still hadn't decided whether it would be released as a Web series or air as a pilot.
And then another year went by -- more than that, actually. Whatever momentum the project had -- if it ever had any -- has more than dried up during the last two years of vacillation.
I'm just speculating here, but if Syfy was well and truly enthused about "Blood & Chrome" and its future, would it have handed the project over to another entity for its debut? (And that Web channel, Syfy's press release is at pains to tell us twice, is "male-centric," which seems a little odd given the huge number of female "BSG" fans. I know that "Blood & Chrome" is very action-oriented fare, but come on. Ladies love to see robots fighting as much as guys do.)
Perhaps it was my fault for expecting more. After all, scripted drama seems to be something of an afterthought -- or at best, an unfavored sibling -- on Syfy these days. Hardly a week seems to go by without the debut or the greenlight of yet another reality series about collectors, makeup, ghosts, set decoration or whatever.
I'm not hating on reality TV, I'm just sad that almost none of the network's resources and attention appear to be focused on ambitious drama. I like "Alphas," but it's not in "BSG's" realm, and is the channel's lighter scripted fare is even more remote from the glory days of Adama, Roslin and Starbuck.
Not every drama is going to be "BSG": I get that. But Syfy appears less interested in the most robust and interesting aspects of science fiction and fantasy every year. At this point, I'm more excited about the new military sci-fi series from "Spartacus" creator Steven DeKnight than I am about anything in Syfy's pipeline.
Still, I guess I had more faith than I thought that the network would treat this franchise well. As it stands, I can't quite believe that after all that anticipation and all that waiting, "Blood & Chrome's" debut has this hasty air. And if there's talk of a possible TV series or any other kind of future, I certainly haven't heard it.
The Old Man -- or the young man, as it happens -- deserves better. So say we all.

*sigh* I miss the glory days of  the Sci-Fy channel (just 'cause you changed your name to SyFy doesn't make it good) as this article eloquently points out.

Get rid of all of the damn reality crap of which we have more then enough and start offering quality scripted programming again!

I think I've talked about Battlestar Galactica in the past and how sad I was to see it end.

So when I heard this was actually seeing the light of day I could not contain my excitement (even though by the looks of it, it might be short lived) I simply had to share.

Ever since BSG ended I've been looking for shows that equal it and although many have come close (Homeland & The Walking Dead to name a few) to becoming wonderful replacements, they still don't have all the elements that made Battlestar Galactica the brilliance that it was.

I sincerely hope Syfy wakes up and decides to give this one a chance (instead of killing it way before it's time as they did with Caprica which I also loved).

And just as a side note I love the fact that this series ties BSG, Razor (the flashback eps) and Caprica together.  It's like a lovely little reward for the true fans of the genre. :)

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Roger Federer qualifies for semis at ATP World Tour Finals

Roger Federer has quailified for the semi-finals of the ATP World Tour Finals as he maintained up his perfect career record against David Ferrer with a straight sets win.
Federer improved to 14-0 against the Spaniard as he ground out a 6-4 7-6 (7/5) victory at the O2 Arena in London.
He did not have things all his own way against Ferrer, who defeated Juan Martin del Potro in his opening match, but came through in an hour and 49 minutes to stay on course to defend his title at the event.
Ferrer headed into the clash on an 11-match winning streak following his triumph at the Paris Masters last week but, having managed only three sets in his previous meetings with Federer, made a poor start as his Swiss rival broke en route to an early 3-0 lead.
But that did not tell the whole story as the world number two was forced to fend off six break points in doing so and they were back level after Ferrer finally took his eighth chance.
As so often, though, Federer moved up a gear just when he needed to and, with his opponent serving to stay in the first set at 4-5, he emphatically broke to love to take control of the contest.
Ferrer had further opportunities at the start of the second set but once again could not take them, Federer saving two more break points.
The set remained tight throughout and Ferrer stayed with his opponent all the way until an inevitable tie-break, but once there an error on the sixth point proved crucial.
Federer had been immaculate on serve and took his third match point when a Ferrer return dropped long to become the first singles player through to the last four.