Archivo de la etiqueta: champions

Indian Wells is ON

Most of the best tennis players in the world do like getting some time off but when Indian Wells comes around, there is no other place they rather be. The tournament that celebrates its 40th anniversary, runs from March 9 to the 22 at Indian Wells, California.

It is one of the few non-Grand Slam tournaments where the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) and the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) collide throughout the year. So it is one of those rare chances to see the best of both genders battle it out on the tennis courts. This year, on the men’s side, 18 out of the top 20 players were registered to play. In the women’s side, only three out of the top 20 are not in the mix.

The weather in not expected to disappoint. California, unlike the east side of the country, is warming up quickly around this time of the year. The weather, the atmosphere and the high level of tennis displayed throughout the two weeks of competition surely invites any tennis lover to stay tuned.

SOME HIGHLIGHTS OF LAST YEAR

The tournament, that was originally staged in Arizona, made a brief stop in Florida for a few years before coming back to the west coast. It was until 1987 when both men and women were invited to participate. What you could find fascinating about it, is that the complex in which the tournament was played grew around the idea of adequating a La Quinta Hotel to a place for tennis to host its biggest stars. The organizers at that time already envisioned the success it has today.

In 2000, the Indian Wells Tennis Garden opened its doors. Changes to the venue are constantly made, but the essence of the tournament remain the same. Attendance for the event keeps growing every year. In 2014, 431,527 people witnessed what went on. The main stadium seats around 16,100 fans and it is not unusual to see it sell out. The complex has a total of 20 practice courts and nine stadium courts. It was voted as ATP Masters 1000 Tournament of the Year in 2014.

The tournament is scheduled around the halfway point between the Australian Open and the Roland Garros. The ATP follows it with the Irving Classic and the Miami Open which is also in the schedule of the WTA. Players don’t seem to care about the jet lag that comes with trying to make it to California. They all want to be there as it is a great opportunity for developing talent to show what they are made off.

There are many storylines that will be unfolding at this tournament. One that might catch most people’s attention is Rafael Nadal’s return to action after a long injury break. The Spaniard has shown fans, time and time again he can come back from almost everything. Novak Djokovic is the man to beat as he is the reigning champion. Watch out for Kei Nishikori who is Nick Bollettieri’s favorite student at the time. The Japanese player has won 10 out of his last 11 games since the Aussie Open. Roger Federer reached the final last year but is not expected to do so this year. While Andy Murray is also going through at hot streak, experts don’t see him getting past the quarter-finals and give Novak the win before he even plays a game.

On the women’s side things always tend to be a bit more exciting. Serena Williams should not have too many difficulties reaching the final and most likely to win it. She has not played at this Open since her win in 2001. Victoria Azarenka wants to get back to being the #1 player in the world. How bad does she want it will be judged on how she does in this venue. While injuries seem to be her biggest concern, her fighting spirits is her biggest weapon. Based on how the brackets are set up, she could face Maria Sharapova in the third round. That would be a big test for both of them prior to reaching the final stages of the tournament. I believe Sharapova has a clear advantage by the way she’s been playing lately. Watch out and don’t underestimate Caroline Wozniacki, she has talent and just ran the New York City Marathon. Never underestimate a marathoner. She can have one of those weeks where even Willams would not want to be in front of her. It all depends on how she warms up early in the tournament. The women’s side is always more unpredictable that the men’s side.

Last thing I’ve got to say is that you must keep up with what happens at Indian Wells. I can already tell you will like what you see.

Start your engines!

Ladies and gentlemen. We are one week away from what promises to be a great 2015 Formula 1 Season. Lots of changes since that last race in Abu Dhabi where an engine failure in Nico Rosberg’s car made it “easy” for Lewis Hamilton to win his second driver’s championship. All the behind the scenes preparation over the break will be put to the test in Melbourne next Sunday.

MERCEDES:

The Silver Arrow team has kept both of its world class drivers in charge of delivering another Constructors Championship. From the engineers to the mechanics to almost everyone on the staff will be returning this season. Nico now knows what it is like to handle the pressure of being in title contention feels like. Totto Wolf and Paddy Lowe know that can still get more points from the German driver. Lewis Hamilton will help him add even more points but is not expected to hold back for another shot at another title. Their testing results at Jerez and Barcelona point toward another great season for Mercedes.

RED BULL:

This team is seeing how Mercedes is drifting away with all the glory that used to belong to them. They not only lost their place on the top of the constructors and drivers championships, they also lost Sebastian Vettel. The Germani driver is now with Ferrari and leaves the leadership on the track to Australian sensation, Daniel Ricciardo while promoting Daniil Kvyat from Toro Rosso to Red Bull. The car did well in testing but has some things to figure out to make their Renault engine catch up with Mercedes.

WILLIAMS:

Probably the team that surprised fans the most in 2014 was this one. With Felippe Massa’s resurrection and the solid performances by Valtteri Bottas, they finished third. This year they should obviously be expecting to make it further up the podium. The greatness of this team is greatly powered by a woman. Claire Williams has been accredited with much of the team’s recent success. She is also pushing that in a near future Sussie Wolf could be behind the wheel in her team. This team only looks to be moving forward. The recent deal with BT should really help them get the best out of their cars.

FERRARI

The longest lasting Formula 1 team is experiencing one of its deepest crisis in many years. Their lack of victories is driving officials crazy and last year only one man was able to make it a decent one for Ferrari. Now that Fernando Alonso is on another team, Kimmi Raikkonen will be joined by Sebastian Vettel. They are both world champions but have forgotten about their winning ways. The reconstruction of this team was almost complete over the break. They want to deliver their fans a win but with how Mercedes and other teams are rolling, it will be something hard to see happening, but not impossible.

MCLAREN 

This team has a solid driver’s lineup. Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso are experts at getting the most out of their cars. Unfortunately for the team that returns to run with a Honda engine, it will not be the two of them that line up at Melbourne. After Alonso’s crash during practice, he will miss the first week of action of the season. After that, both drivers will have to make their skills count to get McLaren back to where it once was. Button was about to leave the team, but Alonso suggested that he wanted the Englishman to stay. The team listened and both of these drivers have a lot of catching up to do for McLaren.

FORCE INDIA 

In 2014, this team was really unpredictable. They would have a great race one day and the next weekend they would barely even finish the race. Sergio Perez has found a new contract with this team but his biggest motivation might be having a Grand Prix in Mexico in sight. Perez is known for his aggressive driving that has cost him big points and in some cases a finish in the podium. He has to show maturity this season because he’s got talent. Then his teammate Nico Hulkenberg has been more consistent but not in the spots he would like to be. Team owner Vijay Mallya would like to see his money spent wisely.

TORO ROSSO

The driving school of Red Bull is a team that mostly prides itself in preparing their drivers for the F1 lifestyle by the time they make the jump with Red Bull. Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz Jr are the two drivers representing the Italian constructor. In 166 races, they have one win and one pole position. As we said before, this is more of a development team than a team concerned to win a drivers championship. Sebastian Vettel’s and Daniel Ricciardo’s success at the top can be highly attributed to what they learned from their time at Toro Rosso. So it’s fun to watch their drivers develop throughout the season.

LOTUS

The problems just wouldn’t stop for this British team in 2014. Despite having Pastor Maldonado as their leader, there was not much to celebrate last season. Romain Grosjean and the Venezuelan driver must take advantage of a team that does not seem to have the financial problems it had in 2013 and 2014. They will be supported by a Mercedes engine just like the team that leads the competition does. Their standard to beat last year’s performance is not high. With only 10 points in 2014, they sure have the drivers and hopefully the car to do better.

SAUBER

The swiss team finished pointless in 2014 so there is no way they could do worst than last season. Esteban Gutierrez was expected to stay with the team but he did not convince the team management it should be that way even with the Mexico Grand Prix in sight. They feel that Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr are what the team need to score some points this upcoming season. Troubles with their engine could be parallel to the ones Ferrari has with theirs. But something is for sure, to belong in this category you need more than a deep wallet. The two drivers have the skills to prove they belong in the F1 world.

Neuer Count Him Out

The never-ending battle between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo continues early this year as they hope to hoist the “Ballon d’Or” award for a fifth or second time respectively. But what are the chances for Manuel Neuer to shock predictions?

Out of the three candidates, the 27-year-old goalkeeper is the only one with a World Cup win in his resume. Neuer also won the Bundesliga and the German Cup with “Bayern Munich”.

Voted in Germany as player of the year in 2014, he allowed 40 goals in 62 games. The only thing he didn’t accomplish was winning the Champions League after falling 0-5 in the aggregate against Real Madrid.

The International Federation of Football History and Statistics (IFFHS) named him the world’s best goalkeeper. Thibaut Courtois from Chelsea and Keylor Navas with Real Madrid came in second and third.

In an interview with FIFA.com, former Real Madrid star Michel Salgado mentioned that Neuer has earned his nomination by his results.

“It’s tough for a keeper to win the award, but that doesn’t mean to say that he hasn’t had a great year,” Salgado said.

Ronaldo had an almost perfect 2014. He found the back of the net 61 times throughout the year. With Real Madrid he won almost everything. (Copa del Rey, Super Cup and Champions League). A poor performance at the World Cup could hurt his aspirations to retain the award.

Lionel Messi had his fair share of success in 2014. He broke the record for most goals in La Liga (253) and Champions League (72) within the same week. At the World Cup in Brazil most people remember him losing the final against Germany. Meanwhile, being the ”Most Valuable Player“ of that same tournament shouldn’t hurt.

The world will know the answer to this always-intriguing election on today in Zurich, Switzerland.

Last Week in Sports (10/06/14-10/12/14)

Starting today, every monday I will be posting a summary of the most important news in the world of sports over the weekend.

NFL

Even though we still have to wait to see how the Monday Night Football game pans out to be, it will hardly overtake the show that Seattle and the Dallas Cowboys displayed yesterday at CenturyLink Field, the house of the 12th man. (considered the second loudest stadium in the NFL right behind Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City)

Dallas was coming off an overtime win over the Houston Texans at home but was expected to face an even harder test on the road against the Super Bowl XLVII Champions.  Things did not start well for the team managed by Jason Garrett and due to a couple of mistakes early in the game, they fell behind 10-0. The underdog responded quickly with some great plays by Tony Romo and came back to take the lead 10-17 before halftime. A fielding mistake by the special teams and a mistimed pass by Travis Frederick were key mistakes to give hope to the Seahawks and turn things around in their favor 20-17. Cowboys came back to tie but another field goal by the Seahawks gave the lead to a team that was getting lucky.

The key play of the game happened with less than five minutes to go in the game. 3rd and 20 for the Cowboys and Tony Romo avoids a couple of sacks to find Terrance Williams 23 yards away. Williams makes the best catch of the game right on the borderline of the field having his toes save him from an incomplete pass. In that same series DeMarco Murray takes the ball for a touchdown and gives the Cowboys its 5th win of the season. They will play division rivals (New York Giants, Washington Redskins) the next two weeks before traveling to London to play the Jaguars.

SOCCER

With most club activity suspended for the week due to FIFA Dates national teams in North and South America played friendly games while teams in Europe continued Euro 2016 Qualifiers. Mexico played Honduras on thursday and won 2-0 with goals from Oswaldo Alanis and “Chicharito” Hernández who is now just nine goals behind Jared Borgetti as the all-time best national team scorer. On sunday they played Panama and with the first goal of Erik Torres with the national team they took the win (1-0).

Among other important results Landon Donovan said farewell to the U.S. Men’s National Team. He played his last 40 minutes with the jersey he wore 157 times and 19 of them as the captain of the squad. After not being included by Jurgen Klinsmann to play in the World Cup the decision of retiring was clear for the best soccer player to ever represent the red, white and blue on a soccer field. Unfortunately after a memorable night Ecuador’s Enner Valencia tied the game in its final stretch for a 1-1 draw.

Brazil beat Argentina in what is probably the biggest rivalry in soccer at an international level. Diego Tardelli scored both goals for the “Verde Amarela”. Messi had a chance from the penalty spot to temporarily tie the game but he missed. This friendly game was played in Beijing, China.

In Euro 2015 Qualifiers scores Spain beat Luxemburg 4-0 after falling 2-1 earlier in the week to Slovakia. England had an easy week winning 5-0 over San Marino and 1-0 over Estonia. France beat Portugal 2-1 even with Ronaldo on the pitch but even more shocking Germany lost against Poland 0-2.

MLB

We are approaching the very end of a very long baseball season and surprises keep popping up. Probably the biggest one is that the L.A. Dodgers aren’t in the hunt for a World Series anymore. Now the Kansas City Royals are back to a spot they are not very used to be in. They are facing the Orioles in the American League Championship Series who are also pretty unfamiliar with this stages. Their rival in the biggest stage in baseball will come from the winner between the San Francisco Giants and the St. Louis Cardinals who are playing to reach the National League Championship Series to access the World Series.

F1

A very unusual week unfolded in Formula 1. Most people have now seen or heard the accident in which Marussia’s driver Jules Bianchi was involved back in the Japan Grand Prix. Today Bianchi is still in critical condition in a hospital in Japan and is being supervised by a medical team lead by two doctors provided by Ferrari. Most of the people that surround F1 races say they are having a tough time dealing with the situation. But the show must go on and Russia welcomed the highest category in auto-racing for the first time. A circuit with lots of turns and few spaces to overpass other drivers built around the same Olympic Park that hosted the recent 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.

It was again the Mercedes drivers who occupied the top two positions . Lewis Hamilton came in first after leading the whole race and Nico Rosberg finished second in a competition where most cars only needed one stop Marussia only had Max Chilton’s car on track as a tribute to his teammate. Unfortunately he had to abandon the race early on due to technical difficulties. With the 1-2 for Mercedes Benz drivers, the team secured the Constructors Championship with three races to go in the season. Apparently Russia is having to pay $50 million as a hosting fee per year for this new venture. Next up is the United States Grand Prix in Austin (special coverage from the Circuit of the Americas, stay tuned).

TENNIS MASTERS

Roger Federer has shown the world he is not done playing great tennis. The swiss who for a very long time had ranked number one in the world won the Shanghai Masters for the first time in his career after defeating Frenchman Gilles Simon 7-6 (8-6) 7-6 (7-2). A close match that was mostly defined by Federer’s efficiency from the net taking 24 of 35 points. With the absence from Nadal in the tournament, combined with this result, Federer is now second in the ATP Rankings just behind Novak Djokovic.

CHICAGO MARATHON

There were close to ideal conditions in the “Windy City” yesterday for the Bank of America Chicago Marathon. No world-records were broken, nor even course records and that is mostly due to a highly conservative pace from the leaders on both the women’s and men’s side of the field. It was a Kenyan podium on the men’s side with Eliud Kipchoge taking first place with a time of 2:04:11. Followed by Sammy Kitwara and Dickson Chumba less than a minute behind. On the women’s side Rita Jeptoo won the race with a 2:24:35 Rita Jeptoo (KEN) 2:24:35, Mare Dibaba came second and Florence Kiplagat finished third. Jeptoo from Kenya also clinched the 2013-2014 World Marathon Majors title.

OTHERS

Finally mexican golfer Carlos Ortiz made his PGA debut at the Frys.com Open in Napa Valley, California. The University of North Texas alumni and “Web.Com Player of the Year”finished with a scorecard of one stroke under par to rank 57 allowing him to rank 56 in the PGA Tour. Also Paola Longoria from Mexico won the U.S. Open in racquetball after defeating María José Vargas from Argentina 3-0 at Minneapolis. It is Longoria’s fifth U.S. Open title and 150th consecutive win for the player from San Luis Potosi.

Lo Real del Chicharito

Primero llegó James Rodriguez y luego se dió la contratación de Keylor Navas al Real Madrid. Mientras Colombia y Costa Rica presumian tener jugadores en el cuadro merengue, los mexicanos nos teníamos que apoyar en la historia y en los logros del pentapichichi Hugo Sánchez con el conjunto blanco.

Pero las cosas cambiaron en las últimas horas del mercado de fichajes europeo. El Manchester United con nuevo entrenador dejaba entrever que sería muy limitado el uso que le darian a una pieza que hace poco tiempo había sido la sensación en la Liga Premier. Se habló de la Roma, del Inter y de muchos otros equipos a donde Javier Hernández Balcázar podía emigrar, pero según el delantero todas fueron especulaciones.  El destino se hizo presente el 1ro de septiembre cuando el “Chicharito”, fue presentado por Emilio Butragueño y Florentino Pérez como el último refuerzo del diez veces campeón de Europa.

El histórico número 14 que inició su carrera como profesional en las Chivas del Guadalajara ya estaba acostumbrado a las sorpresas. Literalmente de la nada fue presentado el primero de julio del 2010 con el Manchester United siendo valuado en diez millones de euros. Javier no tardó en acoplarse a su nuevo equipo y anotó 13 goles en su primera temporada con los Red Devils.

Fue casi imposible igualar lo hecho en su estreno como diablo así que no tardaron en llegar las críticas. Lo peor del caso es que tras habernos regalado un decoroso mundial de Sudáfrica 2010, en su mismo país se le comenzó a ofender por decir que había sido suerte y no talento lo que tenía a CH14 triunfando en el viejo continente. Mientras caía su efectividad y sus minutos en la cancha lo único que crecía era la cantidad de voces que se expresaban en contra del tapatío.

A pesar de ello el mexicano más popular en el fútbol europeo no perdió los estribos y fiel a su estilo se mantuvo trabajando bajo las órdenes de quien fuera. Cuando Sir Alex Ferguson dejó el banquillo del Manchester muchos señalaron a Javier como candidato a abandonar el club. No fue así y aunque no jugó mucho bajo la tutela de David Moyes, Javier seguía anotando esporádicamente. Tras el fracaso en liga y en Champions del Manchester United, Moyes fue despedido, Ryan Giggs fue el entrenador interino y luego llegó Louis Van Gaal habiendo conseguido un tercer lugar el el mundial de Brasil 2014.

En el mismo mundial, Javier tuvo más actividad que la que había tenido en el mundial pasado ya que Miguel Herrera le tenía más confianza al Chicharito que la que le tuvo Javier Aguirre en su momento. Anotó su primer y único gol contra Croacia para sellar una victoria de 3-1. Ese sería su tercer gol en una justa mundialista. Hablando de mundiales, fue el mundial de Perú en 1995 el que pudo haber significado el final de la carrera de uno de los mejores delanteros de México. Al no haber sido tomado en cuenta para representar al país en un torneo donde terminó coronándose el seleccionado azteca.

A pesar de ese retroceso en su carrera, a Javier poco le importó y junto con Giovanni dos Santos y Carlos Vela, hoy por hoy son de los mejores jugadores que hay en México de esa misma generación. El joven de 26 años de edad reconoce que hay muchos que a lo largo de su carrera han perdido la confianza en él. Sin embargo, para Javier, más allá que el reconocimiento o desprecio de la gente esta la confianza en si mismo. La misma confianza que lo ha llevado a firmar un préstamo de un año con el que él dice ser “el mejor club del mundo”.

Ahora compite por un puesto con Karim Benzema, sustituye a Gareth Bale, recibe pases de Cristiano Ronaldo y tiene como casa el Santiago Bernabeu. Puede que no juegue los 90 minutos pero esta en el lugar donde cualquier (jugador) mexicano quisiera estar. En el mejor lugar para callarle la boca a sus detractores. Porque la opción fácil hubiera sido regresar a México y salvar a Chivas de la crisis en la que esta. A Javier no le interesa regresar, al menos no por ahora. Ojalá que no sea repatriado pronto como lo han sido varios mexicanos. Javier tiene el hambre como pocos de triunfar entre la élite del Europa, y eso parece ser lo que le cuesta más al aficionado mexicano entender.

Muchos prefieren la comodidad de la Liga MX a la competitividad de las ligas del viejo continente. Se conforman con buenos salarios (la liga mexicana es de las mejores pagadas del mundo) por tal de no arriesgar un peso por salir. Javier Hernández Balcázar, por favor no regreses a México y si Dios quiere el próximo año pases de ser un un jugador prestado por el M.U. a una compra de 23 millones de euros del Real Madrid. La verdad es que en realidad por quien eres dentro y fuera de la cancha, lo vales.

CH14 se estrenó como goleador del Real Madrid vs Deportivo LC (EFE)
CH14 se estrenó como goleador del Real Madrid vs Deportivo LC (EFE)