Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Projected 2013/2014 Alpine Skiing World Cup final standings

Soon we will have about one third of the Alpine Skiing World Cup season over, and we can see which skiers are really in the battle for the World Cup titles. But the unequal number of races for each discipline doesn't mean the current leader is the true favourite for the title. Last year, Aksel Lund Svindal had a great early season and was leading the standings, but in the end, Marcel Hirscher won the World Cup. Svindal's second half of last season was not as spectacular as his early season, but also the high number of technical events in the second half helped Hirscher to catch Svindal.

Right now, for both men and women, the discipline with most races left is slalom and the discipline with least races left (excluding combined) is super-G. To take that into account, I made projected final standings where the unequal number of races in each discipline is taken into account. For this ranking, I counted skiers' average points this season in each discipline and multiplied them with the number of races in that discipline. For combined, I used last season's points as there has been no combined races this season.

I begin with women's standings as it seems more interesting.

Click to enlarge.

Lara Gut has had a great early season. But her best discipline is super-G. Maria Höfl-Riesch, on the other hand, is better than Gut in downhill and slalom, the two disciplines with most races. In general, the early season has had many speed events, and that's why e.g. Tina Maze should gain positions later in the season when there are more technical events.

Then, let's have a look at men's standings.

Click to enlarge.

The men's season has started quite similarly to last season, Svindal is great in speed events, Ligety great in giant slalom, and Hirscher dominates slalom plus is fastest after Ligety in giant slalom. Last winter, it was still quite soon obvious that Hirscher's almost constant top-2 finishes in technical events would be enough to pass Svindal later in the season. And despite these projected standings, I believe that will happen also this year. Svindal has not been as great as he was last year. And Hirscher not scoring points in the slalom in Val-d'Isère brought his average score from slalom down to 50 points. That is probably less than what it will be at the end of the season. If he can lift his points average from slalom over 70 points, then he should win the World Cup. That would require finishing most slaloms in top-2, which has been almost routine for him in the last two seasons.

Ted Ligety won three gold medals at the World Championships last winter. One could say that the man with three gold medals should be the favourite for the overall World Cup. Unfortunately for Ligety, his best disciplines are the ones with least races. And despite the World Championship, Ligety has only one podium finish in super-G in World Cup races. Also, not scoring points in three races so far is too much. In the projected final standings, he is even below the slalom-specialist Mario Matt. But it would be a wonder if Matt finished the season on the third place, I can't see him keeping up his 90-point average per race in slalom. 60-point average would seem realistic which would mean a top-6 result in the overall World Cup. But even if Ligety finished his season ahead of Matt, I am not sure if it were enough for a top-3 position in the overall World Cup. Hannes Reichelt, currently on the 5th position, should be able to come very close to Ligety in the overall standings.

I will be posting new projected final standings later during the season. Then there will have been more races and the points averages from each discipline tell more about the skiers true form for this season.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

My view on 2020 Summer Olympics bids

The host city for the 2020 Summer Olympics will be elected on 7 September 2013. The candidate cities are Istanbul in Turkey, Tokyo in Japan, and Madrid in Spain. Tokyo was already my initial favorite, I like Japan and I believe they can host well big events. But I also liked the idea of Istanbul hosting the Olympics; Turkey hasn't hosted major sports events very often. Madrid was my least favorite to host the games; Spain is the latest country of the bidders to have hosted Summer Olympics, in Barcelona in 1992.

Talking about the venues, Madrid is my favorite because they have more venues already existing than Tokyo or Istanbul. Too often Olympics leave venues that become white elephants with little use after the games. As Madrid has so many of the venues already now, I believe the risk of white elephant syndrome is the smallest.

Madrid is also a compact project. All of the venues located in Madrid would be within 10 kilometers from the city center. On the other hand, Madrid is the only candidate city located in the inland. That's why the sailing events have to be held in Valencia, over 300 kilometers away from Madrid. Istanbul and Tokyo could host also sailing events in the host city.

Also Tokyo would be a compact project. 85% of competition venues and 70% of training venues would be within 8 kilometers from the Olympic Village. Istanbul wouldn't be as compact a project as the venues would be within 30 kilometers from the Olympic Village.

The Olympic Stadium is maybe the most prominent venue of the Olympics. Istanbul is planning an unusual solution for the opening and closing ceremonies, they are not going to have them at the athletics stadium like usually. Instead they are going to build a 70,000-seat stadium for the ceremonies even though the existing Atatürk Olympic Stadium for athletics would have 76,000 seats. That would be only the third time when the athletics stadium isn’t the Olympic Stadium at the Summer Olympics, the Vélodrome de Vincennes was the Olympic Stadium at the 1900 Paris Olympics and the Maracanã football stadium will be the Olympic Stadium at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

The ceremony stadium in Istanbul would be situated at the Bosphorus and there would be a view to the Bosphorus. It would definitely look great but my initial worry was whether there would be post-Olympics need for a stadium that isn’t made to accommodate a running track or a football pitch. At least they would reduce the seating capacity to more reasonable 20,000 after the games, so maybe a separate ceremony stadium isn’t such a bad idea.

Tokyo would have the same Olympic Stadium they had when they previously hosted the Summer Olympics in 1964. The stadium will be reconstructed for the 2019 Rugby World Cup increasing the seating capacity from about 50,000 to about 80,000. Madrid’s Olympic Stadium would be Estadio La Peineta which is currently being expanded from 20,000 seats to 70,000 to become football club Atlético Madrid’s home stadium in 2015.

As a tennis fan, I am interested in the tennis venues, even though tennis is one of my least favorite sports at the Olympics. I think Spain would be the best possible country to host the Olympic tennis; they are probably the most important tennis nation without a slam, the Olympics would be their chance to host something almost as important as a slam. Also, Madrid’s tennis venue Caja Mágica has clay courts so we might see Olympic tennis on clay; previously there have been clay courts only at the 1993 Olympics in Barcelona.

The tennis venue in Tokyo would be the Ariake Coliseum. It currently has DecoTurf hard courts, and that probably wouldn’t change for the Olympics, Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008 were played on DecoTurf as it prepares players for the US Open played on the same surface. For that reason, I believe also Istanbul would have the Olympic tennis on DecoTurf hard courts, they don’t have an existing venue with another surface like London last year and Barcelona in 1992 had.

I found the proposed dates for the games in the IOC’s Evaluation Commission report. Istanbul and Madrid have proposed to hold the games from 7 to 23 August, i.e. the same weeks as Beijing 2008. Tokyo has proposed to hold the games two weeks earlier from 24 July to 9 August, i.e. the same weeks as London 2012. That affects to the Olympic sports’ competition calendars. In tennis that would obviously mean that Tokyo would host the Olympics before the Canadian and Cincinnati Masters events. Istanbul and Madrid would host the Olympics between those Masters events and the US Open. I am afraid that the latter scenario could weaken the field at the Olympic tennis. Players would have to travel from the USA to another continent for the Olympics and then back to the USA for the US Open. Some players might be reluctant to do that ahead of a slam, especially if the Olympics were played on clay in Madrid. That would mean a transition from hard courts to clay and back to hard courts.

I think the host nation succeeding is important for the atmosphere of sports events. Of these three bidding nations, Japan has been the most successful in the recent Olympic Games; Japanese athletes won 38 medals at last year’s Summer Olympics, Spanish athletes won 17 medals and Turkish athletes five medals. On the other hand, host nations may be more willing for doping as they have the pressure to succeed at their home Olympics. That’s why I think a bidding nation shouldn’t have any recent doping scandals like Turkey and Spain have had during the past year. Numerous Turkish athletes have been caught from doping during the past year. In Spain, Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes was convicted over doping offences but the court didn’t allow his clients to be named, which caused cover-up speculations. Because of those scandals, I believe Japan would be the most likely to host clean Olympics, at least when it comes to the home team. Moreover, I think the IOC could punish countries with doping scandals by not awarding them the games.

Yet another reason for why I think Tokyo would be the best host city is that I think Japan is a better place for the 2020 Olympics than Turkey or Spain. There were big demonstrations in Turkey this summer, something which I don’t think should happen in an Olympic host country. Spain, on the other hand, is a country in a financial crisis. Another crisis country, Italy, were also bidding for the 2020 games but withdrew their bid because of their financial situation. That’s why I think neither Spain should get the games.

So, Tokyo is my favorite. They have the most compact bid and I think Japan is the best country of the bidders to host the Olympics. I would prefer Madrid’s bid as they have most venues already existing. Unfortunately I don’t think Spain would be the best country to host the Olympics in 2020 because of their financial crisis. What I think is Tokyo’s problem is that there would be two consecutive Olympic Games in Eastern Asia; South Korea’s Pyeongchang will host the 2018 Winter Olympics. But I don’t think that should be a problem, Greece’s Athens hosted the 2004 Summer Olympics and Italy’s Torino the 2006 Winter Olympics so there were two consecutive Olympic Games in Mediterranean countries.

Monday, August 12, 2013

How commercialism is destroying sports – Part 2: Tennis

I wrote in the previous text about how commercialism has changed the racing in Formula One. But it isn't the only sport that has changed because of the commercial interests. The game of tennis has changed over the last decade for commercial reasons.

Tennis originated in the 19th century as lawn tennis played on grass courts. Since then other playing surfaces have been introduced and those different surfaces favour different playing styles. The contrast between playing styles on different surfaces had become biggest in the 90s. French Open champions were struggling to get past even the early rounds on Wimbledon's grass and players like Sampras, Becker, and Edberg never managed to win the French Open on clay to complete the Grand Slam. That's why Andre Agassi's Career Grand Slam is a truly amazing achievement.

Unfortunately the game seen on the fastest surfaces in the 90s didn't please the big crowd. The big crowd found serve-and-volley boring and rather wanted to see long rallies. That's why the two fastest Grand Slam events; Wimbledon on grass and the US Open on hard courts slowed down their surfaces. After that you could hear players saying that the US Open is already faster than Wimbledon. That shows how much Wimbledon was slowed down. Grass is supposed to be the fastest surface but Wimbledon became slower than US Open on slowed-down hard courts. Nowadays Wimbledon is probably again the fastest slam, but not because it would have been speeded up. Instead the US Open has been even slower in the last years.

The other hardcourt slam, the Australian Open, changed their surface for the 2008 tournament because the previous Rebound Ace hardcourt became sticky on hot weather causing injuries. Already Rebound Ace was slower than the US Open's DecoTurf hardcourt, and be it intentional or not, the new Plexicushion hardcourt was even slower. Also, the fast indoor carpet courts were abandoned on the tour after 2008 and replaced with slower indoor hard courts. A real reason or an excuse to slow down the game, but one of the aims was to reduce the risk of injuries.

There is still one surface that hasn't been slowed down, it is clay. If anything, it has rather been speeded up. The French Open plays faster than previously, even though it can be explained by the faster balls introduced in 2011. Then again, balls can be used to homogenize court speeds; not only Wimbledon's grass has been slowed down but also the balls are slow there.

I find it sad that they are homogenizing surfaces. Homogenized surfaces take away variety from the game. I think that has depreciated the Grand Slam as an achievement. It is easier to master different surfaces than it was in the 90s when Agassi reached the Career Grand Slam. And not only Agassi reached the Career Grand Slam on four very different surfaces but he also won the Year-End Championship on indoor carpet. Also, as the homogenization is done mainly by slowing down the fastest surfaces, it has favoured players with great defensive abilities at the expense of players with great offensive abilities. Moreover, I think the slower surfaces make the game more physical. Longer rallies require better stamina and you need to be stronger to hit through the slow courts. Of course, faster surfaces favour big-hitters but you have less time to prepare the shots there. That hurts some big-hitters. Also, fast surfaces enable players with weaker shots to hit winners. I would say the average pace of courts on today's tour is medium-slow; courts are more often slow than fast. Then again, I think the average pace of 90s' courts was too fast. Most hard courts were fast, the 90s US Open was very fast as even the slowed-down mid-00s' US Open was still fast. I think grass and clay should have been left like they were, they are the two most traditional surfaces. But I think hard courts needed some slowing down. The Australian Open on Rebound Ace was fine. It was a slow hard court but not as slow as the current Plexicusion surface. And I think the US Open was fine in the mid-00s when it had been slowed down a bit from the 90s. It was still fast but not too fast as shown by the French Open champion Juan Carlos Ferrero reaching the 2003 final.

But the slower surfaces have brought what the big crowd wanted. More long rallies, less serve-and-volley. And the homogenized surfaces have one effect which the ATP and the WTA must like. As the surfaces play more similarly, it is more likely the same players that make the late rounds in all events. In the 90s it was hard to succeed at both the French Open and Wimbledon, in the recent years it has been much easier as shown by Nadal winning them both in 2008 and 2010 and Federer doing that in 2009. The previous time that had happened was in 1980 by Björn Borg.

But maybe the surfaces might be speeded up again in the near future. The slow surfaces can lead to long matches like the six-hour final between Djokovic and Nadal at the 2012 Australian Open. TV channels probably aren't too happy with matches being so long. By speeding up the courts, points would become shorter and matches would be over in a shorter time.

Monday, August 5, 2013

How commercialism is destroying sports – Part 1: Formula One

The rapidly degrading Pirelli tyres and DRS have somewhat changed the nature of racing in Formula One. DRS has made overtaking easier and rapidly degrading tyres give more overtaking opportunities for the drivers whose tyres are in a better shape. And that was the reason for why DRS and rapidly degrading tyres were introduced. Overtaking had become very difficult in F1. They tried to make overtaking easier with rule changes for 2009, for example aerodynamics were reduced and slick tyres were introduced to help to follow a car ahead. But that didn't increase overtaking very much. That's why something more radical was made for 2011; a driver can open his rear wing when he is enough close to the car ahead. Also, the tyres were made to degrade more rapidly. That was made because some drivers having much fresher tyres would enable more overtaking.

But was that good for F1? We can hear people praising today's F1 as it has much more overtaking than there was some years ago. But we can also hear other people complaining about how F1 isn't anymore proper racing. And that is my opinion, too. Rapidly degrading tyres have brought an endurance aspect to F1. Drivers need to nurse their tyres to avoid additional tyre changes. That wasn't the case some years ago when the tyres didn't degrade as much. Over the last decades, F1 had lost the endurance aspect it had had in its early decades. The relatively short race distance allowed building cars that lasted well for the whole race and drivers didn't need to save the car. The longlife engines and gearboxes introduced in the 00s multiplied the distances driven with them but because of their great reliability, drivers don't have to save the engines unless they are in a position where they can do it without losing their position.

But the rapidly degrading tyres have caused that the drivers need to save tyres and that's why we can hear engineers warning them of driving too fast. I don't think that kind of an endurance aspect belongs to F1. Endurance racing like Le Mans is another thing, even though the improved reliability has reduced much of its endurance aspect, too. Also, the rapidly degrading tyres have affected to racing in F1. It is easier to get overtaking chances if you have fresher tyres than the car ahead. That has increased overtaking. But if the driver ahead is struggling with his tyres and trying to preserve them, he may be reluctant to do all he can to defend his position. And I think defending a position is an important element of racing. That's why it is sad to see drivers being unable to try to defend their positions. Also, overtakes where a driver passes another driver who cannot defend are not so spectacular in my opinion. The greatest overtakes are the ones where a driver battles his way past a well-defending driver.

That is also the reason why I don't like DRS. Too often it leads to easy overtakes where the driver ahead cannot defend. I think DRS works best on circuits like the Hungaroring where it is almost impossible to overtake otherwise. On those circuits, DRS doesn't make overtakes so inevitable. But it is sad to think there is a DRS zone on places like the Kemmel straight at Spa. That was always a great overtaking spot even without DRS. DRS takes away all challenge in overtakes there. If there has to be an overtaking aid in F1, I would prefer the push-to-pass system used in IndyCar. You can get extra horsepower only for a limited number of times and you can use it also to defend.

But why does F1 need those overtaking aids? The purists may be complaining but more overtakes and drama is what the big crowd wants. The big crowd was bored of most races being processions after the first lap and it was hard to win from behind the front row. Now we can see a driver winning a race after a poor qualifying if he can manage his tyres better than others and now races aren't over after the first lap.

And F1 isn't the only sport which has been affected be commercial interests. One of my next texts will be about how commercialism has changed the game of tennis.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Is it over for Roger Federer?

That is the title of a thread on an internet forum, started after Roger Federer lost the Australian Open final in 2009. Of course a five-set loss in a slam final wasn't the end of Roger's time on the top of the game. Instead he has returned twice to World No. 1 after that and won four slams. But now that question arises again. And this time Federer hasn't even lost a slam final, instead his streak of Grand Slam quarterfinals since Wimbledon 2004 has ended.

2013 has been a bad year for Federer. He started the year with a decent performance at the Australian Open where he reached the semifinals but lost to Andy Murray in five sets. After that his results have been mostly disappointing and getting worse as the year goes on. Rome final and Halle title have been his best performances after the Australian Open, and neither of those were too impressive performances after all. And after reaching the final on clay in Rome, Federer was struggling to keep his quarterfinal streak alive already at the French Open. It took five sets for Federer to beat Gilles Simon on the fourth round, only to get beaten by Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in three sets.

Then came Wimbledon. After the not-so-impressing title in Halle, Federer took an easy win over Victor Hanescu on Wimbledon's first round. But then he got outplayed by Sergiy Stakhovsky on the 2nd round and his quarterfinal streak had come to an end. After Wimbledon Federer added Hamburg and Gstaad to his schedule and made a switch to a larger racquet. But results of those events were disappointing; a semifinal loss in Hamburg to Federico Delbonis and a 2nd round loss in Gstaad to Daniel Brands, both of them players Federer should routine.

But why is he playing so badly? For sure his performance has declined because of his age. But that doesn't explain why he was the World No. 1 just a year ago and now struggling to beat players even outside the top 100. His back has troubled him over the past year; he had back issues already last year when he won Wimbledon. But he played well last summer and his performances have started to drop after it. Maybe reaching Sampras' record of weeks as the No. 1 was his big goal and he hasn't been as motivated after that. And maybe the bad losses have taken away some of his confidence and given his opponents more confidence, he isn't anymore such an unbeatable opponent.

But is it now over for Roger? I wouldn't yet say so. He will probably never again return to World No. 1, his performances are declining with his age and his back issues seem persistent. But his best game cannot have gone away in a year. If he can play his best game, he can still win even slams. But falling from the top 4 makes it hard for him; he may face top 4 players already in quarterfinals. Having to win three top 4 players seems difficult for him; he seems to struggle to recover even from one long match. So getting back to top 4 would be important for him if he is still to win slams.

If Roger makes semifinals at the US Open this year and plays a competitive match against a top 4 player, then I believe he can really win one more slam. But I cannot see him winning many more slams anymore. Maybe two if he finds a good form at Wimbledon and manages to keep it until the US Open. And very difficult to see him winning three or more. But that would be 20 slams in total then, a good number to retire at. Unfortunately that seems too difficult to reach.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Thoughts about Sauber and the Austrian GP

For change I write about Formula One this time. The financial problems of Sauber are a sad thing for me as they are one of my favourite teams. They are a privateer team and one of the few teams competing still with their original name. But unfortunately it's financially hard for smaller teams to compete in F1 these days.

A good thing is that Sauber has secured sponsorship from Russian companies. And it was great to hear there won't be ownership changes. But Swiss SonntagsZeitung reports the Russian companies will pay 470 million Swiss francs (i.e. €380 million). That's a lot of money from sponsorship, and probably gives those Russian companies a lot of power at Sauber. They have already announced Sergey Sirotkin, whose father is leading one of those companies, will drive for Sauber next year. And SonntagsZeitung reported the CEO Monisha Kaltenborn will be replaced. Hopefully this isn't a start of a Russian invasion at Sauber. We remember Renault and Virgin switching their licence's country because of their partners, hopefully Sauber won't switch to a Russian licence. And even if there were some ownership changes in the future, hopefully the team will remain as Sauber. Yeah, that's quite unlikely in case of a takeover but the team would lose much of its identity if it became Force Russia or something like that.

Then some words about the return of the Austrian Grand Prix. It's great to get one more European race as Europe is the cradle of F1 but the number of races in Europe has decreased in the last years. Red Bull Ring isn't really my favourite track but I can find one good thing in its return to calendar. Most new circuits are quite similar with each other but Red Bull Ring would be quite unique. Maybe a different nature of a circuit would enable some surprising results.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Some thoughts about doping

Sunday was a sad day for track and field athletics as for example Tyson Gay and Asafa Powell were caught from doping. Or actually it was a great day, dopers were caught. The sad day was when they competed doped.

But does it make sense to fight against doping? Is doping really such a bad thing? Come on, doping is cheating only because it's banned. If it weren't banned, doping wouldn't be cheating, only trying to improve one's performance.

In my opinion, the weakest argument against PEDs is that they are expensive and not available for everybody. There are also legal but expensive ways to improve one's performance, for example the CVAC pod used by e.g. Novak Djokovic and the altitude tent used by e.g. cross-country skiers.

Another argument against PEDs is that they reduce the importance of the athletes' skills. But there are already sports where the equipment plays a big role; improved racquet and string technology has changed tennis, and skis can play a big role in skiing. So why would PEDs by any different? Well, one argument against them is their adverse health effects. But do athletes need this kind of protection; we've seen there are dopers anyway? And in 1990s and early 2000s cycling, one needed to use PEDs to succeed. And some sports like Alpine skiing require risking one's health to compete.

But the biggest reason why I'm against the use of PEDs is really that improved fitness reduces the importance of skills. We can see that already in tennis, even though there haven't been at least reported doping cases. The slowed-down surfaces have given an advantage for the fittest players with great defensive abilities. The skilled shotmakers have a hard time if they can't defend well and a player needs to be strong to hit through the defense of the fittest players. Tennis used to be a game where you needed to have great skills and sufficient fitness; nowadays you need to have great fitness and sufficient skills. PEDs would make the game even more about fitness and strength at the expense of skills. And I really don't want that. Yeah, I said there are also other things that take away the importance of skills. And yes, for example in tennis I wouldn't be against more regulated equipment, but that's another story.

But it's up to the sports associations to keep sports free of doping. Doping would enable a longer competition season which would be good for the business. And doping would enable even greater records, so there are reasons why sports associations might be keen to allow the use of PEDs and cover up doping cases. And of course, a doping case is negative publicity for the sport. Still, there was something positive in the doping cases of Gay, Powell, and four other athletes. It's good to see that the international athletics federation doesn't cover the doping cases of big names. Hopefully most other sport associations would do the same, but I'm sceptical about it.

Monday, July 8, 2013

My review of Wimbledon 2013

The Wimbledon Championships of this year are now over. After all the upsets, the tournament still ended with a final between No. 1 and 2 seeds, where Andy Murray became the first British player to win men’s singles Wimbledon title since Fred Perry in 1936.

I really enjoyed the first week with its upsets. The first upset happened already in the first day when Belgian Steve Darcis defeated the recent French Open champion Rafael Nadal in straight sets. This was already the second early loss for the two-time Wimbledon champion Nadal, last year he lost to Lukas Rosol on the 2nd round. And even when he made Wimbledon finals, he often had some tight first-week matches. Maybe it’s lack of grass court matches, or maybe it’s because the fresh grass is faster making things harder for defensive players like Nadal. This year he really wasn’t well prepared for Wimbledon, he played only one exhibition match on grass before Wimbledon and he had played only one tournament outside clay this year, and that was on a slow hard court. And maybe the knee was troubling him, all we can say is that Darcis played better than Nadal that day. Unfortunately Darcis had to withdraw from his 2nd round match as he injured his shoulder in the match against Nadal.

Wednesday of the first week produced then even more upsets. Women’s 2004 Wimbledon champion Maria Sharapova was defeated by Portuguese Michelle Larcher de Brito. Sharapova fell multiple times during that match, and slippery courts caused controversy during the first week of the tournament. In the same day as No. 3 seed Sharapova lost, No. 2 seed Victoria Azarenka had to withdraw from her 2nd round match because of the knee injury she sustained on the 1st round on the slippery court. There were also many other players who had to retire or withdraw from their matches that day, and slippery surface had caused at least some of those injuries. The grass was obviously unusually slippery as usually there aren’t as many falls at Wimbledon. But also the modern game is to blame. Most of the season is played on hard courts or clay which are easier surfaces for footing. Maybe a longer grass season would help players with their grass movement but it also comes to the playing style. For example, Federer’s game relies less on defending, and you see him hardly ever struggling with his movement on grass.

The biggest upset of that Wednesday, and maybe the whole tournament, was Sergiy Stakhovsky beating seven-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer. I must say I like and admire Federer. His game is so beautiful and also so effective. And he’s the most successful tennis player ever. And he had reached 36 Grand Slam quarterfinals in a row before Wimbledon so a loss to Stakhovsky would end that streak. Still, I was rooting for Stakhovsky in that match. I’m a bit tired of Federer, Nadal, Djokovic, and Murray winning almost everything. I like Federer the most of those players, still I want somebody else to succeed for a change. Stakhovsky had a good first set, but after he lost it in the tiebreak, I was afraid he would lose his faith in winning, what happens so often when lower-ranked players play against big names. But Sergiy was able to keep his level high and beat Federer in four sets. It was also nice to see successful serve-and-volley tennis what you don’t see too often on today’s slow surfaces.

The 2nd week wasn’t as great as the first week, at least in my opinion. And that happens often in slams. With the exception of Federer, today’s best players’ game relies a lot on good defence, and we don’t see so many offensive players on the second week of slams. My best memory from the second week is Sabine Lisicki making the women’s final. She is always great on grass and in the four years she had played at Wimbledon, she had beaten three times the reigning French Open champion. And she did it also this year when she beat the reigning French Open and Wimbledon champion Serena Williams. Unfortunately her first Grand Slam final was very difficult for her and she couldn’t win the title. Still, it was great to see Marion Bartoli winning the Wimbledon title. She may not have the most beautiful playing style but she’s an excellent grass-courter, as seen in 2007 when she beat Jelena Jankovic, Serena Williams, and Justine Henin before she lost the final against Venus Williams.

My best memory from men’s second week was Jerzy Janowicz making the semifinal. He maybe didn’t have the most difficult draw as both Federer and Nadal from his draw quarter lost early but he was still able to take a set from the eventual champion Murray. I like his game a lot, he is a tall guy with a lot of power but he has also skills. And he’s the most successful youngster on the ATP at the moment, he has a Masters final and a Grand Slam semifinal unlike Grigor Dimitrov or Bernard Tomic.

Novak Djokovic-Juan Martin Del Potro semifinal was probably the most memorable match of the second week. Djokovic had been very impressive and yet to lose a set before the semifinal. Neither Del Potro had lost a set before the semifinal but he had a knee injury. Still, despite that injury DelPo was able to play on a great level and take the match to the fifth set. But, as great tennis it was, I wouldn’t call it great grass tennis. Classic grass tennis was seen in Federer-Stakhovsky match where Stakhovsky played serve-and-volley game. Djokovic-Del Potro was played mainly from the baseline and I’d call it classic hardcourt tennis. But yeah, players said some years ago that Wimbledon’s grass is nowadays already slower than US Open’s hard courts. So also the game played on Wimbledon’s grass has become more like the game played on hard courts.

Hopefully Del Potro can keep this level for the US Open which he won in 2009. But I’m starting to think Wimbledon has become big-hitting DelPo’s best slam. Last year he had a tight three-setter semifinal against Federer at the Olympics on Wimbledon’s grass and he beat Djokovic in the Olympic bronze match in two sets. But at the hard courts of US Open, Djokovic beat him in straight sets. The US Open’s surface has been slowed down after DelPo’s 2009 title and it’s hard for him to beat well-defending players like Djokovic there. Faster grass courts give him a better chance for that.

The men’s final was a bit anticlimactic for me. Two well-defending baseliners aren’t a classical Wimbledon final line-up. But that’s what you get in today’s tennis with slowed down surfaces. You may like this match-up if you like long rallies but I prefer offensive players going for winners. Of these two guys, I slightly prefer Djokovic’s game and I prefer his personality. But another Wimbledon final loss would have been heartbreaking for Andy. And luckily for him it didn’t happen, and Brits finally got a men’s singles Wimbledon champion, 77 years after Fred Perry.

Hello all!

Welcome to read my sports blog. Tennis, Formula One, and Alpine skiing are my favourite sports and I will probably write a lot about them. But I am also interested in other sports and will write about them, too. One of my particular interests is the business of sports, and I will probably write quite often about business-related things.

I am from Finland but decided to write in English in hope of more readers. If most of the readers are from Finland, I may later switch to writing in Finnish.

Best regards,