Friday, July 25, 2014

"The Last of Us" movie still in infancy stages but on track

With “The Last of Us,” Naughty Dog craftsman Neil Druckmann helped create one of the most emotionally affecting survival games ever released.

Now, as he writes the script for Screen Gems’ upcoming big screen adaptation of “The Last of Us,” he’s endeavoring to make the first truly great video game movie.

Druckmann and filmmaker Sam Raimi, who will produce the film through his Ghost House Pictures banner, surprised the Hall H crowd at Comic-Con International in San Diego on Friday morning with a presentation devoted to the project, which is still in its nascent stages, hoping to stoke fan excitement for its upcoming adaptation of the apocalyptic survival game.

“The Last of Us” was one of the most widely lauded games of 2013. The story tracks Joel, who is hired to smuggle a 14-year-old girl, Ellie, out of a quarantine zone, but their personalities clash as they traverse the once-familiar terrain of Boston, which has become all plant life and crumbling buildings in the wake of an infection that has decimated the human populace.

The intimate character moments between the two leads was one of the things that hooked Raimi, who described himself as a gamer when addressing the audience, and he also stressed that a “Last of Us” movie would closely hew to the game.

“It doesn’t need to be different,” Raimi said. “It just needs to capture the core of what made ‘The Last of Us’ special to so many fans.”

Both Druckmann and Raimi promised a “laser focus” on Joel and Ellie’s relationship in “The Last of Us.” Although the film has yet to be cast and a director yet to be hired, Druckmann mentioned that he had met with “Game of Thrones” actress Maisie Williams, who plays the headstrong Arya Stark on the HBO fantasy, about the role of Ellie.

Raimi, a favorite among the Comic-Con set for his “Evil Dead” movies and his “Spider-Man” trilogy, said at the panel that he was currently at work on an “Evil Dead” TV show, though he shared few details about that project.

At the end of the Hall H session, Raimi received an Inkpot Award, celebrating his many contributions to the “popular arts.” The surprised director exclaimed “What the heck?” before accepting the prize with by saying, he was “honored to be a fan and be one of you guys.”

Arya Stark as Ellie?. That could work!.

Though if they really want to go for likeness in the looks department Ellen Page is a no- brainer!.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

"Uncharted" movie finally coming to a theatre near you June 2016

Sony has moved around some dates in its movie schedule, making room for Nathan Drake’s big screen debut. Sony announced today that it will be releasing the film adaptation of Naughty Dog’s action series on June 10, 2016.

That date originally belonged to The Amazing Spider-Man 3, which Sony has now bumped back by two years. Spider-Man fans won’t be left out in the cold though, as Sony is planning a Sinister Six film for November 11, 2016.

Uncharted director Seth Gordon plans to start shooting in early 2015, though there’s no lead attached to the film yet. The screenplay is currently being written by David Guggenheim.

Uncharted will next appear on PlayStation 4 in 2015, and there are hints that it might be the last entry in the series. For more check out the Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End trailer from E3.

[Source: Deadline Hollywood, Hollywood Reporter]

A lot of people seem to want Nathan Fillion to play Nathan Drake, and I have to agree that would work well. It's either him, or the original voice behind the character Nolan North.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Novak Djokovic's coach Boris Becker says Roger Federer is still the G.O.A.T.

Boris Becker had a fun time around his protege Novak Djokovic recently. First the party to celebrate Novak's victory in London (check what Boris had to say about that fun night), then the wedding ceremony for Djokovic and his now wife Jelena in Montenegro (check the location here).

Despite all that buzz, Boris still likes to focus on tennis, and decided to open up about how he feels about Roger Federer, beaten by Novak in the final of the Championships last week.

"It was incredible to have 4 Wimbledon champions in the locker room at the same time, I think it's a first!" said Boris to the media referring to the Wimbledon final, as himself and Stefan Edberg were both present for the final in London,

"Roger Federer has already won Wimbledon 7 times and has been World No.1 for a very long time. He didn't really need another title, he is the greatest of all time and I have a lot of respect and admiration for him. With his comeback in the 4th set, he showed clearly why he deserves the G.O.A.T. status. He loves to compete and he is a great ambassador for tennis. Kids should take as an example what he did in his career, and how he managed to overcome complicated situations, as he did against Novak in the final in London".

Friday, July 11, 2014

Roger Federer's hard court schedule starts in Toronto Canada

Roger Federer will return to the tour in Toronto, where he is looking to win a third Canada Masters title

Federer has been resurgent this year, with the addition of a new coach in former Slam legend Stefan Edberg, and a newer larger racquet. Almost immediately it started paying dividend with a run to the Brisbane final in the season opener, and most recently he came within a blade of grass of lifting an eighth Wimbledon title.

The off-season will give him some much needed time with new family members, twin sons Leo and Lenny before he returns to hit the two Masters 1000 series events ahead of the US Open.

First stop will be Toronto, where he will try and get in a deep run. He won in 2004 and 2006, falling in the finals in 2007 (to Novak Djokovic) and again in 2010 where he lost in two tight sets to Andy Murray.

Having skipped the Masters in 2012 and 2013 he will make his return at the prestigious event, and then will join the rest of the ATP elite as they move on to Cincinnati where he will try once more for an unprecedented sixth title in the precursor to the US Open.

There, Federer was untouchable between 2005 and 2008 before Juan Martin Del Potro broke the chain in 2009, and since then Federer has gradually fallen earlier and earlier, last year losing in the fourth round.

Federer firmly believes he still has more Slam wins left in him, so can he make one more tilt in New York?

The Rogers Cup starts on 4 August and the Cincinnati Masters on 11 August. The US Open takes place between 25 August to 8 September.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Martina Hingis starts successful return with Washington Kastles in World Team Tennis

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- With World TeamTennis, Billie Jean King aims to bring tennis to America. She certainly has corporate America's attention.

The crowd of 2,254 that turned out for the home opener for the four-time and defending WTT champion Washington Kastles was nearly a thousand short of capacity at George Washington University's Smith Center, the team's new indoor home.

But there was no shortage of advertising. From Bloomberg banners, Absolut Vodka bottle advertisement cutouts, 20-second Geico timeouts, ubiquitous Nike Swooshes, Wilson W's, signs for FedEx, Marriott Residence Inn and a host of lesser-known medical devices and companies, corporate America sees a target audience.

Even Washington's team name, Kastles, comes from Kastle Systems, a Virginia-based technology security company.

On Wednesday, the Kastles swept all five sets from the Boston Lobsters to win 25-8, tying the largest margin of victory in franchise history.

The tennis remains top-notch. Martina Hingis still has the light-touch and finesse that made her a five-time Grand Slam singles champion and International Tennis Hall of Famer. Her game translates even better to doubles and mixed-doubles, where she holds nine Grand-Slam titles.

Hingis and Venus Williams are known for their "rivalry for the ages" during the late 1990s and early 2000s. On July 16 in D.C., Hingis and Williams will team up for the first time against the Philadelphia Freedom. Hingis was stoked to finally play with her former rival.

"I can't wait, obviously," Hingis said. "I only had to face her on the other side of the net, so it will be so cool to play with her. With Venus as a doubles partner, I can't imagine what it's like to be in Serena's shoes. The serves are coming at you at 125 miles an hour, that's pretty cool."

On Wednesday, playing with former World No. 1-ranked doubles partner Leander Paes in the opening match, Hingis hit several backhand cross-court winners.

Kevin Anderson was the night's other standout. The 6-8 South African, a true two-handed backhand baseline basher, showered his opponents with serves that reached as much as 150 mph.

WTT league play returns Thursday at 7 p.m. in Washington D.C., San Diego and Boston.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Roger Federer's Roaring Return to Relevancy

Even in defeat, Roger Federer roars back.

Aside from a few shanked balls at 4-5 in the fifth set during Sunday’s final, Roger Federer is right where he wants to be. True, the disappointment of failing to win the Wimbledon title was subtly etched on his face as he held his runner-up trophy and waved to his daughters. And, a stuffy nose at his runner up press conference betrayed a possible post-match cry. But, after the match, Federer, ever the realist, noted:

“I already have seven. It’s not like I need another one.”

Skeptics may point to this as a sign of Federer’s lack of grace in defeat, though his full statements demonstrated his respect for his opponent and the quality of the match. But, make no mistake, in the midst of answering the expected questions regarding the loss, his ability to win another Slam, and his future, Federer made his message clear: I don’t need your pity. I didn’t need this title to solidify my place in tennis history. And I’m not going anywhere.

Just a year ago, Federer was nowhere near SW19 during Andy Murray’s historic win. By the end of the year, which featured shock losses to Sergiy Stahkovsky, Daniel Brands, and Federico Delbonis, Federer was in danger of becoming irrelevant. Typically tight-lipped about injuries and illness, Federer was visibly hobbled in his loss to Rafael Nadal at Indian Wells, and continued to struggle with his balky back for much of the season. For the first time since 2003, Federer did not advance to a Grand Slam final, and the only discussion of him at the latter stages of the Grand Slams was limited to obituaries for his career.

After achieving everything he could have ever imagined in tennis, no one would have blamed Federer for moving on – he and his agent, Tony Godsick, have recently founded a sports management firm and landed Grigor Dimitrov and Juan Martin del Potro as clients. Similarly, if Federer wanted to continue on the tour, enjoy the applause, content himself with the occasional win at smaller tournaments, and playing the role of spoiler from time to time, he would have been well within his rights to do so. After all, his rivals were younger, bigger, and maybe hungrier than he was, and there was a good chance that he would still be considered the GOAT when all was said and done.

But, following his defeat at last year’s Wimbledon, Federer started retooling. First, there was the racquet change to a larger, more forgiving racquet that would help him generate more power. Coached by Paul Annacone at the time, and friendly with Pete Sampras, Federer surely knew that Sampras’ main regret of his later career was that he did not change to a more powerful racquet.

Despite some obvious growing pains as he got used to the racquet, Federer committed himself to a change that few players of his level would contemplate at that stage in his career. Then, following a disappointing US Open loss to Tommy Robredo, and a relatively lackluster indoor swing, Federer amicably split with Paul Annacone and recruited his childhood hero, Stefan Edberg to coach him, alongside his long-time coach, Severin Luthi. Just as the racquet change would enable him to compete physically with his younger competitors, the coaching change would keep his mind fresh and continue to inspire him – preventing him from burning out as he reached the final stages of his career.

Despite his losses to Nadal and Ernests Gulbis at the first two Slams of the year, Federer has had a noticeable spring in his step from the beginning of the 2014 season. He noted that his back injuries and subsequent losses had caused him to lose confidence at times in 2013, and proclaimed that he was back. And the results were encouraging – he won two tournaments, appeared in three more finals, and got his ranking up to #3. Surprisingly, he rededicated himself to Davis Cup – one of the few gaps in his resume, helping the team reach the semi-final, to be played this fall.

But the true litmus test of Federer’s tinkering would be Wimbledon. Based on his form and his history on grass, Federer was among the favorites to win the tournament. The lone bogeyman – Rafa Nadal was drawn into his quarter as he had been in 2013. But, the rematch of the fabled 2008 final was not to be. Nadal lost to an insurgent Nick Kyrgios, and Federer played nearly flawless tennis to reach the final, defeating Stan Wawrinka and Milos Raonic on the way.

As he spoke to the press throughout the tournament, he was pleased to be in the mix – noting how difficult it had been to lose early in 2013 and not be in contention. By the time Sunday’s final arrived, Federer was picked by many to grab that elusive 18th Slam. The match and Novak Djokovic had other ideas, however.

Unassailable on his service games until the final, Federer found himself in more tight service games than Djokovic. Indeed, rather than focusing on the lost Slam opportunity, Federer expressed disappointment after the match with his own inability to break down the Djokovic serve through three sets. And, even though he squeaked by in the first set tiebreak and led the score for a set, it always felt as though Federer was hanging onto the match by his fingernails. In his on court interview after the match, Federer alluded to the match points he saved in the fourth, noting “it wasn’t looking good for a while.” Yet, as he had against Andy Murray at the Australian Open in 2013 and against Rafael Nadal in the 2008 Wimbledon final, Federer found a way to force a fifth set and nearly take the match.

Until his 2008 Wimbledon loss, Federer’s most enduring image was that of the high flying wunderkind – with boundless talent and an ability win at will. Many will define Federer’s career for what he achieved during those peak years – winning 12 Grand Slam titles, playing in 10 consecutive Grand Slam finals and 17 of his eventual record of 23 consecutive Grand Slam semifinals. But, his post-dominance years offer a different sort of achievement – endurance, adaptability, and heart. Even where his racquet failed him against Djokovic, his mettle carried him through almost to the end.

It’s hard to say today whether he will end up with more Grand Slam titles than Nadal when both have retired, but Federer has consistently made himself relevant in the latter stages of Grand Slam tournaments more than any of his rivals. His pride as a champion will not allow him to merely hang around the tour as a sentimental favorite or to grind away on the outside courts like his friend, Lleyton Hewitt.

He doesn’t want our pity applause, and he doesn’t need it anyway. He’s continuing to put the pieces together on this next act of his career and is, as always, more excited about the days to come than those that have passed. Based on what we have seen this fortnight, he has every reason to be.

- See more at:

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

In Defeat, A Vintage Federer Appears

Roger Federer wasn't supposed to be there. In the wake of this maddening but beautiful loss, remember that. Federer will say he expected to be there again, but he had to know the chatter. Of course he did. Federer may live a gilded life, but he is human. 
He surely was aware of that prolonged stretch of pessimism about his chances to win—or even reach the final—of a tennis Grand Slam. Any Slam. The chirping began when the losses in major tournaments began to pile up. There were a few to Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray, Tomas Berdych, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. 
But the list also included Sergiy Stakhovsky, who beat Federer at Wimbledon last year. Tommy Robredo. Ernests Gulbis. Federer in the final weekend used to be a sure thing, and he had not made a Slam final since he beat Andy Murray at the All-England Club in 2012. He had earned 17 majors, more than anyone else, but his car was considered parked, tall grass reeding through the wheels.
The car is still parked, technically. But on Sunday Federer offered a charge of the old greatness that tennis presumed had slipped into the rear view. The record will show Federer lost in five sets to Novak Djokovic, 6-7 (7), 6-4, 7-6 (4), 5-7, 6-4. But the three hour, 56 minute match was also a thrill and a message. Federer will turn 33 next month, and he still has something left in the tank.
It was all there on Centre Court, in glorious bursts: Federer's electric first serve and nimble ground strokes; the lightness of baseline movement (effortless-looking, but hardly effortless) that appears to make him glide. Maybe it wasn't pure vintage Federer, but it appeared to be the basement tapes.
This was the Federer the Federer faithful had been hoping for, perhaps quixotically, during those vulnerable stretches in which his game appeared to be slipping, and worse, looked outmoded. 
Perspective is critical here: Federer is the No. 3-ranked tennis player in the world. The lowest he dropped to amid that nadir was eighth. But his re-ascension wasn't assumed. Age was assumed. So was decline. All around him, tennis was evolving, getting younger. There was a new wave. The Legend had been rendered to an opponent.
But at this tournament he's won seven times, Roger was Roger again—surging, crisp, and visibly confident with that bigger-headed racket, and a note from coach Stefan Edberg to push toward the net and apply pressure. 
Mentally, Federer looked reconnected. There had been wins at smaller tournaments, and a run to the semifinals in January in Australia, and he'd had some fortune on his side of the Wimbledon bracket, with Nadal pushed out in the fourth round. 
But there was an edge to his game now, and it showed itself in the quarterfinal against Swiss countryman Stanislas Wawrinka, and in his short work of Milos Raonic in the semis. Versus Djokovic, Federer saved a fourth-set match point to push it to a fifth set. (That fourth set was a perfect microcosm of Federer's late career: politely declared done, his end coming soon, and then, suddenly…)
Let's be sure to give Djokovic his due. This is his seventh Slam title, his first at Wimbledon since 2011, and a statement of its own. Djokovic had suffered three losses in a row at Slam finals—he'd lost five out of the last six Slam finals he'd been in—and as usual, Djokovic was athletic and rangy, with a wicked first-serve and shot-making recoveries that bordered on comical. 
But he won this match with his head. It would have been easy to unravel after that fourth set floated away—and you could sense those flutters in his pained look toward his stern-faced coach, Boris Becker—but Djokovic refocused. When he needed to be a closer, he was a closer. He dedicated the win to his late childhood coach, Jelena Genčić, and cutely thanked Federer for "letting me win."
For Federer, this run defied a familiar arc. The pattern of a great athlete is well known: There is the early incandescence, which establishes potential for greatness. Then there is (hopefully) the actual greatness, which establishes stardom. Federer had experienced as good a run as anyone. After that comes the aging and the inevitable crumble. It happens to all. It can get hard to watch.
Sometimes, however, there is a reversal, a return of the brilliant everything. There's no assurance it will last, but when it surfaces it is both nostalgic and riveting and anything but hard to watch. There will be another tennis epitaph for Federer, but the prior ones have been written in haste. When this Wimbledon was over, Roger Federer said he would see everyone next year. It sounded more like a promise than a wish.

Monday, July 07, 2014

Thoughts on men's Wimbledon final

There's a reason why they often refer to Roger Federer as the Greatest of All Time, and this match was the perfect example of that.

So many times in this final I thought Roger was down for the count, but being the true 7-time champion that he is he found a way to fight back from the brink of defeat.

He kept giving all his fans hope right to the very last ball strike. But it's that hope that made the eventual loss that much harder to bare.

At 4 all in the final set it really did come down to a few loose points, it became the who would crack first mentality and unfortunately it was Federer who blinked first.

Djokovic was right when he thanked Roger for letting him win in his victory speech, because it really was THAT close.  Those last 2 games could have been won by either player.

Djokovic should thank his lucky stars for coming out a winner.  Sorry if that sounds a little bitter, but this is another loss that (for us fans) will take some time to get over.

Even though I often try to be or want to be as gracious as Federer in these situations as a long time fan of the Swiss man I just don't have it in me at the moment.

But I also want to say to all those asking and wondering if Roger will be back for Wimbledon 2015, how much more evidence do you need?.

The man is having an incredible year, at 32 he's in incredible form, barring any injuries things can only go up from here. So the answer to that question would have to be resounding YES.

Don't start crossing this man off at the majors any time soon. Not until he himself says he's ready to quit.

He may not have won but this final proved once again that he'll always be the king of grass.  

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Roger Federer says despite loss at Wimbledon final many more great things are still to come

When you are – arguably – the greatest player ever to pick up a racket and you have just lost one of the best finals Centre Court has ever seen, you do things slightly differently.

So it was that Roger Federer did not head for the locker room to kick his racket bag to Timbuktu, he did not dive into the nearest doorway and hide his head under a towel to howl. No, the mighty Rodge walked straight into the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and had a bit of royal TLC. And, no, this was not a first; he had met them before.

“I did see them afterwards,” Federer said. “I wasn't in a great state. I was unbelievably sad at that moment just when I left the court, so it was a difficult moment for, I think, the three of us. But they were very sweet to comfort me and wish me well, that they enjoyed the match and all these things. We met previously, so that helped, I think.

“Clearly it makes me very happy to see them being supportive of my game and supportive of tennis. Overall, it's really nice seeing them there at a Wimbledon finals. Also at the quarters I think they were there as well. I think it's wonderful.”

Now the father of four children, Federer knows that there are more things in life than tennis matches but, even so, losing 6-7(7), 6-4, 7-6(4), 5-7, 6-4 in a smidgeon under four hours to Novak Djokovic still hurt. It hurt lots. He may have said all the right things during the trophy presentation ceremony, but the look on his face before he was called to receive his silver salver and afterwards, when he waited for Djokovic to finish his lap of honour, told a different story.

He had fought with everything he had; he had saved a championship point and forced the match into a fifth set, he had smacked 75 winners and committed only 29 unforced errors and he had served with laser-guided precision to come up with 29 aces. And still he had lost. No wonder it hurt.

“I kept believing and kept and kept trying to play offensive tennis,” he said. “I'm happy it paid off in some instances. As you can imagine, I'm very disappointed not being rewarded with victory. But it was close, you know. Novak deserved it at the end clearly, but it was extremely close.”

How many times have we all heard players claim that their loss or victory came down to a point or two here or there. But in this particular case – although neither man actually said so – the result rested on a knife edge for pretty much every minute of the three hour 56 minute epic. One double fault, one groundstroke sent a millimetre wide was all it would take to separate the two serial champions. The rub of the green eventually went to Djokovic (Fed hit a forehand long to offer up a championship point and then dumped a backhand in the net to lose the match – almost four hours of hard graft and it came down to that) and Federer was crushed.

Looking around the packed court, he watched Djokovic climb into the players’ box and celebrate with his team. This was hard to take. And then his eyes fell on his team – his friends, his helpers and his wife and two daughters. Suddenly life was not so bad after all.

“It's even more memorable when I see my kids there with my wife and everything,” he said. “That's what touched me the most, to be quite honest. The disappointment of the match itself went pretty quickly. I was sad for a few minutes, but so happy to see family and a lot of nice ovations from the crowd. You know, that lifted me up and made me feel better, no doubt. So I got over it fairly quickly. But clearly I was very sad walking off the court not with the winner's trophy.”

Inevitably for a bloke who is staring at his 33rd birthday, the unspoken question is “will you be back?” The world’s media tiptoed around it but when someone bravely threw out the idea that, maybe, perhaps, sort of, this might have been his last chance to win a grand slam title, Fed was perfectly at ease with the concept.

“You could have asked me exactly that question in 2003,” he said, harking back to his first Wimbledon title and the first of his 17 major trophies in all. “You don't know. Totally the unknown. That's the disappointment of an Olympic result, of a World Cup result, Wimbledon result, whatever it is. You've just got to wait and see.

“There is no guarantee that you're going to be ever there again or not. Or maybe there's much more to come. It's really impossible to answer that question.

“I'm very happy to see that with feeling normal I can produce a performance like I did the last two weeks. That clearly makes me believe that this was just a stepping stone to many more great things in the future.”

The positives to take from Sunday’s match are many: Federer is fit, he is playing almost to the peak of his powers and he is still charging towards the business end of major championships. And if he loses, he had friends in high places to offer him a bit of tea and sympathy. Life really ain’t so bad after all.

It's good to see he's seeing the glass as half full. I guess we (the fans) took the loss the hardest, but more on that in a different post.

Saturday, July 05, 2014

Why Roger Federer will win with Novak Djokovic on Sunday

Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic both won their semifinal matches on Friday to set up an epic Wimbledon final. For The Win previews Sunday’s match, which could bring Federer his record-setting eighth Wimbledon championship or give Djokovic his second title at the All England Club.

1. The series between Federer and Djokovic is as close as can be.

Sunday will be the 35th meeting between Federer and Djokovic, which ties them for third all-time. (Djokovic’s rivalry with Rafael Nadal is the most frequent rivalry in men’s tennis, with 42 meetings.)

Who’s gotten the better of whom? It depends how you break it down. Federer has an 18-16 overall advantage in their 34 matches, but Djokovic has taken 11 of their 20 matches this decade. Federer leads 6-5 in Grand Slams, though Djokovic has won four of the past six. Djokovic leads 5-4 when they meet in finals, though Federer has him 1-0 in Grand Slam finals. They’ve only played once on grass, with Federer winning their 2012 Wimbledon semifinal en route to his most recent Grand Slam victory.

2. Despite one of them playing in 36 of the past 43 Grand Slam finals, Federer and Djokovic have played for a major just once.

Of all the stats about the Fed-Djoko rivalry, this is most interesting: Either Federer or Djokovic have played in all but seven Grand Slams finals since 2004. Remarkably though, they’ve only played each once, in the 2007 U.S. Open final. That was Djokovic’s first appearance in a major final, back when he was regarded as a young, talented player with fitness issues. Federer won in straight sets.

3. Federer is playing better at Wimbledon 2014.

If you’re only going by each player’s six matches leading into the final, Federer is playing better tennis at the moment. He’s been broken once in six matches. He weathered an early storm against Wawrinka and got his Swiss pal into long rallies before setting down-the-line winners. Against Raonic, Federer bided his time and let the inexperienced Canadian make his own mistakes. While Raonic, Djokovic and Dimitrov were slipping all over the court, Federer was gracefully stepping over the patchy baseline grass on Centre Court. The problems he’s had over the past two years with converting break point are a distant memory.

Djokovic has limped to the finish line in a few matches. He battles periods of self doubt in matches he should easily win. There was an odd dip on Saturday against Grigor Dimitrov and an even more bizarre drought in a quarterfinal win over Marin Cilic. At times, Djokovic will turn it on and make you wonder how anyone could ever beat him. Ten minutes later, he’ll go through a stretch where you wonder how he ever wins.

4. Djokovic has lost five of his last six Grand Slam finals.

Djokovic won four straight finals from the 2011 Australian Open to the 2012 Australian Open. Now he’s in a deep final funk. It’s part of the reason he brought in Boris Becker, a player with a completely different playing style, but one who had the mental game to win the big points against Ivan Lendl, Stefan Edberg and the top players of his day.

It wasn’t always this way. Djokovic was 5-2 in his first seven major finals. Now his overall record is 6-7. Part of this is unavoidable: No one was beating Andy Murray on Centre Court last year and two of those Slam finals losses are to Nadal at Roland Garros. It’s not as if he’s choking in big matches, but every loss brings added pressure.

4. Oddsmakers have made Djokovic the clear favorite.

British books initially installed Djokovic as a 4/6 favorite to win Sunday’s match, which means Federer is a bigger underdog against Djokovic than Raonic was against Federer.

5. Is this Federer’s last chance to win a major?

No. You’ll hear that a lot between now and Sunday, but it’s nonsense. Yes, this has been a perfect storm for Federer. He came into the tournament healthy, had an easy draw to the quarters, cruised to the final and faces a player he’s had great success against. But it’s not as if this was pre-ordained. Wawrinka was playing the best tennis of his life on grass. Raonic has a serve that’s tailor-made for Centre Court. Djokovic awaits in the finals. What, because Rafael Nadal didn’t make it to the semis, this was a cakewalk? Nadal hasn’t made it past the third round of Wimbledon since 2011! This isn’t like the 2009 French Open, when Robin Soderling took care of Nadal and Federer was able to capitalize en route to a title. He played the matches in front of him and was clinical in each.

If Federer can reach a final at Wimbledon at 32, why not at 33? As long as he keeps playing — and he’s given no indication that he’s going to retire anytime soon — a win at Wimbledon is always on the table. But, yes, this is still a golden opportunity.

6. Who has more at stake?

Either way, someone is going to experience a gut-wrenching loss on Sunday. Federer loses and he gets the questions about whether he’ll ever win another Slam. Djokovic loses and he has to face the reality that he no longer comes to play in the biggest matches. Neither question/accusation will be true, but perception always outweighs reality. The pressure will be on both, so let’s call this one a wash.

7. Who’s going to win: Roger Federer or Novak Djokovic?

Roger Federer is 16-1 in Wimbledon semifinals or finals, with his only loss coming in that epic 2008 loss to Rafael Nadal. Between his proficiency on grass, Djokovic’s recent struggles in big matches and the fact that 95% of Centre Court will be Fed Fans on Sunday, Roger Federer is the pick to win the match and break his tie with Pete Sampras to earn his record-setting eighth Wimbledon title.

Friday, July 04, 2014

Roger Federer into 9th Wimbledon final in straight sets!

Roger Federer set a Wimbledon final clash with Novak Djokovic after dismissing Milos Raonic 6-4, 6-4 6-4 in Friday’s semi-finals at the All England Club.

The 32-year-old Swiss is through to his ninth final at The Championships and is bidding to win an unprecedented eighth title. Victory would mark his 18th Grand Slam championship win and first since beating Andy Murray on Centre Court two years ago.

“I’m extremely happy to be in another final,” Federer told BBC television as he walked off court after beating first-time semi-finalist Raonic in one hour and 41 minutes. “It would mean a lot [to win Wimbledon again]. I feel unbelievably proud every time I walk the grounds here. I know I don’t have 10 [years] left. I’ll try to enjoy it. The first one in 2003 was a dream come true; it’s surreal that I’ve been so successful here.”

Federer is through to the final for the loss of just one set, overcoming Stan Wawrinka in four sets in the quarter-finals. The Basel native has dropped serve just once in reaching the final and only faced one break point against Raonic.

“[It took] big concentration [today],” said Federer. “I had to really focus every point. I had to be very careful on my service games. I knew there would only be a few chances on return. I was unbelievably effective.

“I’ve played some great tennis under pressure [during the tournament]. I didn’t play so well last year and I expect a lot of myself here. In the second week I’ve really played better as the tournament went on. It wasn’t easy today but I got it done and I look forward to a great match with Novak.”

The ‘Big Four’ of Federer, Djokovic, Murray and Rafael Nadal have accounted for 35 of the past 37 majors, and that trend is set to continue when Federer and Djokovic square off for the 35th time on Sunday.

Federer will play his 25th Grand Slam final and is the oldest finalist at the All England Club since a 39-year-old Ken Rosewall in 1974. He leads Djokovic 18-16 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head, winning their most recent contest on clay in the semi-finals of the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters in April. Their last Grand Slam meeting came two years ago in the Wimbledon semi-finals, with Federer edging it in four sets.

“We always play good matches against each other,” said Federer. “We’ve played each other a lot the past six months, and it’s gone back and forth a bit. Novak is a great champion; he’s used to these occasions. He’s won here before and knows how to get it done. I hope it's going to be a good match.”

The 23-year-old Raonic had reached his first Grand Slam semi-final after beating Nick Kyrgios on Wednesday. The Canadian is set to rise to a career-high World No. 6 in the Emirates ATP Rankings.

This match was a lot easier then I thought it was gonna be. Thought Raonic would put up a lot more of a fight. I guess hype is sometimes just that.

Not that I'm complaining mind you, I am over the moon that Mr. Federer is in another Wimbledon final (especially given the disaster that was last year).

We're talking leaps and bounds here. I was hoping Dimitrov would pull off a miracle and actually beat Djokovic making it that much easier for Federer, but at least he made Djokovic fight for it.

We're either in for another knuckle-biter or a 4 set win for Federer, how's that for a bold prediction?. Go for #8 & #18 Maestro!.

Can it be Sunday already?!. Oh yeah, there's still the women's final on Saturday. Go Genie Bouchard!. Make some history for Canada :).

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Martina Hingis still motivated in doubles

1997 champ Martina Hingis is one of the greatest WTA competitors to have taken to the Wimbledon lawns. We spoke to the Swiss star about her recent return to action.

Hingis competed at Wimbledon last season, albeit in the Ladies' Invitation Doubles. Partnering Lindsay Davenport, she was able to win the exhibition draw for a third successive year, ousting Martina Navratilova and Jana Novotna in the final. In the same month she went on to declare her competitive comeback.

This year she returned to SW19, the site of her slam-winning singles campaign in 1997, and a pair of doubles titles in 1996 and 1998. She paired with Vera Zvonareva for an attempt that fell short at the first hurdle, which wasn't helped by a tough draw that pitted them against fourth seeds Cara Black and Sania Mirza.

This defeat hasn't been characteristic of Hingis' return, which has already brought her silverware. Partnering Wimbledon 2013 runner-up Sabine Lisicki, she was able to win the women's doubles at the Sony Open in Miami, and alongside Flavia Pennetta she was able to achieve a runner-up finish at the Aegon International in Eastbourne.

I was able to speak to Hingis about her doubles game last weekend at The Wimbledon Club, almost a year on from her comeback. She'd been running a coaching clinic for journalists and members of the club, which she delivered with plenty of enthusiasm and insight. Her advice even helped me find the T with a couple of serves, which unfortunately for my erratic self, is an incredible achievement.

When I talked to her afterwards I asked if her enjoyment of tennis had been the primary motivation for her return. She explained that her decision was influenced more by the realisation that she could still cut it with the active pros.

"I've always enjoyed playing," she replied. "I didn't play that much probably the first few years when I stopped. But then I just picked it up more again, and I just still felt like I could compete at that professional level, and I kind of proved it in Miami with Sabine and last week at Eastbourne, so it's kind of nice."

Hingis is yet to make any firm suggestions that she'll compete in singles again, and it seems as though this will be the case for the foreseeable future. "It's too physical," she said when I enquired further. "Singles you have to work out a lot harder. Doubles sometimes you still work out and play, but now you've just like gotta stay in shape and it's half the work, half the court."

"I've always loved doubles," she added. "Obviously I have more Grand Slam titles in doubles than I do in singles. It always helped my singles game too, and it was nice to have a partner. I had great partners over the years, you know, Jana Novotna and Helena Sukova. And with Anna Kournikova, those two years were some of the best during my career."

Besides Sukova, Novotna and Kournikova, Hingis has enjoyed slam doubles success alongside Natasha Zvereva, Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, Mary Pierce, and in mixed doubles with Mahesh Bhupathi. I ask how she's recently gone about choosing who to play with. There doesn't appear to be much of a science to it.

"Last year Daniela really pushed for two months and was like 'you should play, we should try,'" she said. "It was fun, but we were not as successful probably as we wish."

"Then with Sabine I start working with her and she came out with the idea to play a couple of doubles matches before her singles. And I said 'ok, good idea, nice telling me one week before!' So I tried to do my best but second week already we won Miami, so that was really nice."

Hingis also explained that her recent partnership with Lisicki ended due to her desire to focus on her own game. Hingis had been coaching the German but found it tricky to balance this role with her own reemerging playing career. She doesn't rule out the possibility of competing with Lisicki again, but explained that Pennetta will be her partner throughout the American hard court swing.

And has she lost any of that competitive fire that brought her five singles slams and nine more in doubles? "It's always there," she said with a smile. "You kind of work with it and the adrenaline kicks in and everything. You always want to win, right?"

Nice to see that she's playing the hard-court summer too! :)

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Roger Federer wins the battle of the Swiss books spot in Wimbledon semis! :)

Roger Federer advanced to his 35th Grand Slam semi-final on Wednesday at The Championships as he fought from a set down to beat Stan Wawrinka. It was the first all-Swiss quarter-final at Wimbledon.

The 32-year-old Federer is bidding to win an unprecedented eighth Wimbledon crown and goes on to face either Milos Raonic or Nick Kyrgios for a place in his ninth final at the All England Club

“I’m just really pleased that I’m back strong this year at Wimbledon,” said Federer, who suffered a shock second-round exit at the hands of Sergiy Stakhovsky in 2013. “Last year was such a disappointment. I was very deflated leaving Wimbledon on that note. It’s good to be back in the semis. The prospect is very exciting.”

The Basel native lifted the Wimbledon trophy in 2003-’07, ’09 and ’12; his only final defeat came in 2008 against Rafael Nadal. He has a 72-8 tournament record, the second best mark in the Open Era behind Jimmy Connors (84-18).

Wawrinka came out firing against Federer, striking 10 winners as he claimed the opener in 30 minutes. Both players hit top form in the second set, yielding no break point chances, but Federer came out on top in the subsequent tie-break to level the match.

A tiring Wawrinka appeared to be fading fast in the third set, surrendering his serve in the seventh game as Federer took the lead. But the Lausanne native found a second wind in the fourth set, after going down an early break. As Federer served for the match, Wawrinka frustrated his countryman, saving four match points and squandering one break back point before Federer closed out victory in two hours and 33 minutes.

“It's tough [playing Stan],” said Federer. “I must say he played a great first two sets. He struggled with his fitness after that. He was hitting the ball too cleanly for me to do anything. I had to wait two and a half sets to get the first break. He's hard to get by because we know each other’s patterns really well. We both played at a high level.”

It was Federer’s 14th win in 16 meetings with Wawrinka and avenged the loss he suffered against his countryman when they met in the final of the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters in April. Prior to that defeat, Federer had recorded 11 straight wins against Wawrinka.

The 29-year-old Wawrinka was contesting his first Wimbledon quarter-final after playing three matches in three days. Rain forced the Swiss’ third-round match to be cancelled on Saturday. After completing it Monday, he then returned Tuesday to beat the in-form Feliciano Lopez in the fourth round.

Wawrinka was bidding to win his second Grand Slam championship after a breakthrough victory at the Australian Open in January, where he beat both Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal.

Up next Milos Raonic who he's got a 4-0 record against but it won't be easy. 
He's gonna have to serve as well as he did today if not better. But I see him going through in tie-breaks.

Today was a good test for Roger fighting and winning from a set down and that last game to close out the match.

He's gonna need that fighting spirit for the next 2 matches.  
Trying to take it one match at a time has become so difficult now that Roger so close to the finish line I can't help thinking ahead. 
I've been rooting for Raonic up to this point, (being Canadian) but if you read  this blog before it's fairly obvious who I root for.  Is it Friday yet?!. 
On the women's side I have to congratulate and root for Canadian Genie Bouchard who has reached her 3 straight semi-final in a major, how is that for impressive?. 
I hope she can go one step further and maybe even win the whole thing. 
Wouldn't that make a great sports headline on the weekend. Canada would go nuts.  Fingers crossed :).

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Roger Federer sets up an all-Swiss quarter-final at Wimbledon

Roger Federer gave another potent advertisement for his lingering genius and suggested he retains the game to win his eighth Wimbledon, as he dispatched Tommy Robredo 6-1, 6-4, 6-4 to move into an all-Swiss quarter-final with Stan Wawrinka.

No one has taken a set off Federer at these championships. No one has broken his serve. The longest he has been on court is 94 minutes. And this ruthless dissection of Robredo, who beat him at the US Open last year, showed he is close to the form that took him to the 2012 Wimbledon title.

He chipped and charged with success. He made difficult volleys look effortless. And his forehand, its swing as easy as the breeze, wreaked such havoc that when it occasionally went astray there were mutters of surprise. “I am very happy,” Federer said. “I was able to start off strong and I kept up momentum until the very end. Tommy was playing better as the match went on so I was very happy to win in straight sets. I’m serving well, moving well, returning all right, all the things are happening for me to do well.”

He is still fourth favourite in the betting, behind Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and his old nemesis Rafael Nadal, whom he is scheduled to meet in the semi-final. But before then he meets his friend and compatriot Wawrinka, who beat Feliciano López 7-6, 7-6, 6-4.

“I feel my game is right there,” Federer said. “It’s about really being focused out there. I’m healthy. Things are exactly where I want them to be but I am where I want to be. Meeting Stan in the quarter-finals will be amazing.”

Federer started by winning his first service game to love and immediately broke Robredo when his backhand looped over the baseline. A service hold meant he was 3-0 up in seven minutes. Soon Federer had broken again and served out to win the first set 6-1 in 22 minutes.

Robredo is not a natural grass-court player: this is his 13th Wimbledon yet he was making his first appearance in the last 16. Last year Andy Murray saw him off in the third round. And while the Spaniard had his moments – when Federer took a drive volley on the run, Robredo smartly whipped a winner past him – they were rare.

The second set started no better for Robredo, who lost the first nine points before a forehand winner landed in to sympathetic applause. By then he was already 2-0 down in games and with Federer untroubled on his serve he was quickly 2-0 down in sets too.

Robredo raised his level in the third set but one break again – at 3-3 – was enough for Federer to wrap up victory.

Next lies Wawrinka – who is looking forward to the challenge. “It’s going to be fun,” he said. To play him on the grass at Wimbledon is going to be something special. It is going to be tough to play him tomorrow because I have played Monday and Tuesday.”

Alez Roger!. This is definitely your year at Wimbledon :).