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Time for Roland Garros 2015!

The clay of Roland Garros in Paris, France awaits for most of the best tennis players around the globe and the action starts on May 24 for a full two weeks of action. The second Grand Slam of the season which is a highlight in the world of tennis since its inception in 1891 has a lot to offer this year.

Rafael Nadal has been for a long time the favorite coming into this tournament. He has nine titles in this courts that go back to the early 2000’s when he constantly took down Roger Federer. This time the Spaniard has been the first to accept that he is not coming in as strong as he wanted. Experts say that is he is gone in the early rounds we could be witnessing the beginning of the end for the former number one player in the world.

Novak Djokovic is next in line to take over as the new icon of this tournament. The Serbian player has learned to play here as well as he does in every other surface. It is the only major tournament that does not have his name under the champion’s list. His eleventh attempt seems to be his lucky one. Both Adre Agassi and Roger Federar had to wait the same amount of years to claim their first title in the French capital. He has been a runner-up twice including last year against Nadal.

It seems unlikely that a man from France is up to what the locals want to see, a Frenchman claim the title. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is their main figure but he is not ranked within the top-10. He has an “easy” road in this tournament but his onw temper is usually his main opponent when it comes to playing in key moments. Ever since 1983 that the title has not stayed at home.

Rafa, Roger, Novak and Andy Murray are ready!

Kei Nishikori is among the biggest threats to surprise those expecting to see anyone else but him win the tournament. The Japanesse player is ranked 5th and has been consistent on his game over the past. He has won two of his nine titles as a professional this year, including his win at Barcelona in April.

The women’s side is always more unpredictable. Right now Serena Williams is the favorite to take the crown from the courts of Paris since she leads the WTA Rankings. Her biggest threat is the reigining champion of Roland Garros, Maria Sharapova. The russian star has won it twice but never back-to-back. Serena won it for the first time in 2002 and had to wait 11 years to see herself on top again in 2013.

Indian Wells winner Simona Halep has had a steady 2015 but has not been too strong. In most of the tournaments she has participated, she will most-likely find her way to the semifinals. She has won three tournaments this year but when she faced Serena in Miami, she lost. She could make some adjustments to her game and surprise many in Paris this upcoming weeks.

The most popular women on the tour are also ready to go!

If you thought that it would be hard for a Frenchman to win it, on the women’s side it could be deemed impossible. Their best player is ranked 29 and goes by the name of Cornet Alize. This 25-year-old player would love to become the first French woman to win the title since 2000. The path seems hard, but in women’s tennis almost everything can happen.

Among the best matches that kick-off this tournament are the ones between Roger Federer against Alejandro Fala. Christian Lindell has a tough task against Tsonga in his first game of the tournament. Simona Halep will face Evgeniya Rodina as the first game in Phillipe-Chatrier Court. It’s definitely going to be a good one. Everything starts this Sunday and ends on June 7.

I had the chance to visit the site of this tournament in 2006.
I had the chance to visit the site of this tournament in 2006.

UFC’s Injured Card

It took less than eight hours for the first-ever Ultimate Fighter Championship (UFC) fight in Mexico City to sell out the over 20,000 tickets available. Earlier this week the event took a huge hit and we probably won’t see the “Arena Ciudad de México” at its maximum capacity on november 15.

What was supposed to be a huge turnout to watch Caín Velasquez fight for the heavyweight championship against Fabricio Werdum could lose huge ratings now that Velasquez was ruled out due to an injury in his knee. His place will be now taken by Mark Hunt. Two days later, Diego Sánchez announced via Twitter that his fate was just like Velasquez bad luck. The interesting thing here is that Sanchez opponent, Joe Lauzon, had already dropped out of the competition one day earlier. Plus add the withdrawal of Erick “Goyito” Pérez from Monterrey, Mexico. Everything seems to be going the opposite way as to how organizers envisioned the event.

Dana White, during his appearance at UFC 172 in Dallas, Texas showed a huge interest on taking his brand to the other side of the Rio Grande where the UFC fanbase is steadily growing. It is still unclear how the various hits this event has taken will affect the two White had already planned for 2015.

At 32 years old, Velasquez (13-1-0) is not only a fan favorite among the hispanic followers of the sport, but a household name among the elite figures in the mixed martial arts world. Even though he has spent most of his life living in the United States, his roots are based in Mexico. The first ever UFC event in Mexico was a great comeback opportunity for the fighter who has not seen action since October 2013 when he beat Junior dos Santos.

His injury is clearly not just a hit for his personal career but for the whole UFC circus that is a major blow that is yet not quantified. Something that is not common in big events is reimbursements and that is just what UFC is offering ticketholders. From october 28 to november 7 those who saw any of the injured fighters as a reason to attend, will be able to claim their money back.

2014 hasn’t been a good year for UFC fighters,  many who have been getting injured left and right throughout the year. Staying healthy has been a challenge for many of them, something that is always bound to happen when we are talking about a highly physical and brutal contact sport. But it is nothing compared to 2013 when 101 fighters had to step down from either practices or bouts. This year the number of injured contestants is around 50.

Some could claim that the bad luck for the upcoming event on the arena where it will be hosted. The last big show that was scheduled at the Mexico City Arena was between the Minnesota Timberwolves and the San Antonio Spurs. The NBA game had to be postponed when a generator malfunction outside the arena sent smoke pouring into the building less than an hour before the scheduled tip off.

So whatever it is, now that Cain, Diego and Joe have been ruled out of the first ever UFC showdown in Mexico City it will be interesting to see if the arena still sells out and what are the repercussions for the future of the sport south of the United States.

The new main event for UFC 180. Fabricio Werdum vs. Mark Hunt who is replacing Cain Velásquez (mmaweekly.com)
The new main event for UFC 180. Fabricio Werdum vs. Mark Hunt who is replacing Cain Velásquez (mmaweekly.com)