Monday, September 10, 2007


Steven George Gerrard (born 30 May 1980) is an English football player with Liverpool F.C.. He is widely regarded as one of the best and the most complete midfield players in the world, and became the second youngest captain (after Didier Deschamps) ever to lift the European Cup when Liverpool won the competition in 2005.


Gerrard was born in in Whiston, Merseyside and brought up in Huyton, Merseyside. While attending Cardinal Heenan Catholic High School in West Derby, Liverpool, Gerrard was known to go on scouting trips to check out rival school teams. In 1994 – when he was in Year 9 – he was part of the Liverpool YTS scheme and almost made it into the England Schoolboys team, an odd quirk considering his now massively successful career.

Unlike many other Liverpool legends such as Robbie Fowler, Michael Owen, and Jamie Carragher, Gerrard was actually a Liverpool fan as a youth.

Incidentally, his younger cousin, Anthony Gerrard, is a professional footballer who began his career with city-rivals Everton, and now is a highly-rated squad member at League Two side Walsall.

Gerrard is currently engaged to Alexandra "Alex" Curran from Merseyside. They have been engaged since 2004 and have been seeing each other since 2002. They plan to marry in the summer of 2007. They have two daughters: Lilly-Ella (born 23 February 2004) and Lexie (born 9 May 2006).


Gerrard is usually employed in a central midfield role, although he has often been deployed as a right-sided midfielder during the 2005–2006 season. Occasionally he has played as a right back, most notably during extra time of the 2005 UEFA Champions League final. He wears the number 8 shirt for Liverpool and is currently the club captain. It is widely thought that the club captaincy was handed to Gerrard in 2003–04 season so that he could inspire his teammates, and to compel him to take responsibility for his own indifferent disciplinary record, which apparently worked as in the 2003–2004 season, he was only booked twice. Former Liverpool team mate, Michael Owen, expressed relief in his autobiography at Gerrard being named captain in 2003–2004, as it took some pressure off his own shoulders.

He wears the number 4 shirt for England and has captained the English national team, in the absence of regular captain David Beckham.

Gerrard is widely regarded as the best and most influential player in the current Liverpool squad. To date, Liverpool has been his only club. He joined as a boy in 1989 and has come up through the ranks to the first team, in the footsteps of fellow homegrown youth academy seniors like Steve McManaman and Robbie Fowler. Steven Gerrard is an exceptionally complete football midfielder with great vision and indefatigable energy. Often credited for his blistering shots from long range, he excels in both the defensive and offensive sectors of the game, although he makes his most telling contributions as an attacking midfielder.

Gerrard made his Reds debut on the 30 November 1998 as a second-half substitute for Vegard Heggem against Blackburn. His full debut came in the UEFA Cup against Celta Vigo and despite the Reds losing on the night, Gerrard's widely-praised performance belied his tender years. He scored his first goal for the club on 5 December 1999 against Sheffield Wednesday in a match where Liverpool were inspired by their younger players when several of the more senior players missed the game through injury.

In 2001 he was named PFA Young Player of the Year. Also that season he started all three of Liverpool's Cup Finals, scoring the second goal against Alaves in the UEFA Cup Final.

Gerrard was one of three Liverpool players that scored in the famous World Cup qualifying game in September 2001 against Germany (1–5 away victory), which was his first international goal.

lthough approached by Chelsea to sign for them during the summer of 2004, after initially issuing a transfer request he eventually chose to stay at Liverpool. It is known that he was on the brink of signing for the London club but was persuaded to stay because of his family and friends. It was also alleged that Gerrard had been the target of death threats from aggrieved Liverpool fans [2]. The arrival of new Liverpool manager, Rafael Benítez, also played a part in his decision.

A foot injury sustained against rivals Manchester United on 20 September 2004 ruled him out of first team football until late November 2004.

In the final game of that year's Champions League group stage Gerrard scored a crucial twenty-five-yard strike against Greek team Olympiakos. Liverpool needed to win by two clear goals to progress to the last sixteen of the competition. They were 1–0 down at half-time, but scored two goals before Gerrard secured their place with their third. He has since claimed that this was his best, if not his most important, goal for Liverpool to date.

Another notable goal, and an example of his drive and inspirational ability, was his contribution during the Champions' League final against AC Milan in Istanbul on 25 May 2005. Unmarked by the opposition, he headed a goal that kickstarted Liverpool's comeback from a 3–0 deficit. Minutes later, former teammate, Vladimir Smicer, would score again for the Reds. Gerrard was also crucial in the winning of a penalty when he was fouled by Gennaro Ivan Gattuso in the penalty area. Xabi Alonso scored from a rebound, having his penalty saved initially, to make it 3–3.

After going on to win the match via a penalty shootout, he gave a hint of his future when he said to the press: "How can I leave after a night like this?"

However, in July 2005, contract negotiations broke down between Gerrard and the club. Reports stated that Gerrard was about to leave Liverpool and Chelsea were again reported to have tabled a British record bid of thirty-two million pounds for the player, which was ultimately rejected. Throughout the episode, Liverpool remained insistent that they wanted Gerrard to stay. However on 5 July Gerrard stated publicly that he wished to leave the Reds

To the delight of Liverpool fans, Gerrard changed his mind the next day and pledged his future to the club . He also apologised to the club's supporters and insisted that there were no get-out clauses in the new contract that he would be signing. He also offered to give up his captaincy, but was told by Rafael Benítez that it was not necessary. On the morning of 8 July, Gerrard signed a new four-year deal with Liverpool alongside teammate, Jamie Carragher.

To cap Gerrard's great year in the Champions' League he was named as UEFA's Most Valuable Player for the 2004–05 Champions' League season. He was also in the running for French sport newspaper L'Equipe's prestigious Ballon D'Or award. Rounding out 2005, Gerrard came third in the BBC Sports Personality of the Year behind Ellen MacArthur (second) and Andrew "Freddie" Flintoff (first).

At the end of the 2005–06 season Gerrard received his greatest personal accolade to date, when he was voted PFA Player of the Year by his fellow players. He was the first Liverpool player to win the award since John Barnes in 1988.

Real Madrid director Benito Floro was recently quoted as saying: "I've recommended (to club president Fernando Martin) as priority signings a powerful central striker like Adriano, and a top midfielder in case Zinedine Zidane leaves. Gerrard is the football player that I included on the list, a player that the club has already wanted to sign in previous seasons." . However Gerrard has, for once, quashed any transfer rumours, publicly stating, "I'm not going to get involved in all that kind of speculation again, I'm settled and happy at Liverpool, and I'm not going to go through another summer like the last two. "I'll be staying here until the day someone tells me they don't want me."

Gerrard capped off what he called his best season ever by captaining Liverpool to victory in the FA Cup. He scored twice in the Final against West Ham, including a dramatic equaliser in injury time to send the game to extra-time. The 35-yard blast has been called one of the greatest goals in FA Cup final history, and was Match of the Day's Goal of the Season for 2005–06. It had been reported that it took just one second for the 35-yard strike to hit the back of the net, which would mean that the ball was travelling at approximately 68 miles per hour when it was struck. [9].

Scoring in the 2006 FA Cup Final means that Gerrard has managed the impressive feat of scoring in all four major cup finals: FA Cup (2006 vs West Ham), League Cup (2003 vs Manchester United), UEFA Cup (2001 vs Alaves), and European Cup (2005 vs AC Milan).

Gerrard suffered an injury scare days before the 2006 World Cup in Germany. It was suggested that he might have had to miss England's first game in the tournament, but he started in the side that won 1-0 against Paraguay. It was his first appearance in the tournament after missing out in 2002 with injury. Gerrard scored the second goal for England in a match against Trinidad & Tobogo in the 91st minute ensuring that England go to the second round of the 2006 World Cup. England won the match 2-0. The first goal was scored by Peter Crouch.

Career honours


  • Winners
    • 2005-06 FA Cup
    • 2005-06 European Super Cup
    • 2004-05 UEFA Champions' League
    • 2002-03 League Cup
    • 2001-02 European Super Cup
    • 2001-02 Charity Shield
    • 2000-01 UEFA Cup
    • 2000-01 FA Cup
    • 2000-01 League Cup
  • Runners up
    • 2005 FIFA Club World Championship
    • 2004-05 League Cup
    • 2002-03 Charity Shield
    • 2001-02 FA Premier League (Level 1)

Individual honours

  • 2006 PFA Player of the Year
  • 2004–05 UEFA Champions' League Most Valuable Player
  • 2001 PFA Young Player of the Year


England midfielder Steven Gerrard is fit for Wednesday's Euro 2008 qualifier against Russia at Wembley.

The Liverpool captain says he has had no reaction to his broken toe.

Gerrard was substituted with 20 minutes to go in Saturday's 3-0 win over Israel at Wembley.

But it was cramp and not a problem with the toe that forced him off.

"The toe is fine. There is no reaction," Gerrard said.

"I'm fit for Wednesday no problem. I am really pleased with how the toe is feeling at the moment."

Reds boss Rafael Benitez has been in close contact with Gerrard to assess his fitness. Gerrard said: "I've been in dialogue with Rafa (Benitez). He has been asking how the toe is, but he also congratulated us on the win and the performance against Israel.

"He knows how much I want to play on Wednesday."

England's main injury worry remains midfielder Owen Hargreaves and team manager Steve McClaren is hoping he is able to resume training on Monday afternoon.

The Manchester United star was not even named among the substitutes to face Israel.

Liverpool striker Peter Crouch will be in line to face Russia after serving a one-match suspension.


The United States national team may have discovered a rare sporting phenomenon: the breakthrough defeat.

Bob Bradley's players weren't celebrating Sunday after Brazil's 4-2 victory at Soldier Field, but the confidence the Americans will take from their most impressive recent performance was already apparent.

There can be no better measuring stick than the greatest and most skillful team on the planet, and the U.S. youngsters can hold their heads high after giving the Brazilians a stern test. Bradley's men can also measure themselves favorably against how other international teams generally fare in friendlies against Brazil.

Most of Brazil's opponents are unable to find a way to effectively restrict space in the midfield, allowing the South American side to dominate possession at will and providing freedom for Kaka to wreak havoc with his surging runs and Ronaldinho and Robinho to tease and torment defenders. Some of the Brazilians' victories have not been crushing in terms of the final score, but the way they dominated possession was tantamount to a thrashing.

That wasn't the case Sunday. The difference between the teams mainly boiled down to a couple of flashes of genius by Brazil and a penalty kick that should have been awarded for a foul on Josh Woolf.

Thanks to the organized play of the U.S. and, in particular, the tireless efforts of Michael Bradley and Benny Feilhaber in central midfield, the home team remained competitive throughout. Bradley and Feilhaber – on paper at least – looked to be outgunned against Kaka and Gilberto Silva, but the American duo showed no fear and have probably done enough to earn themselves future starting spots.

Looking ahead to the start of 2010 World Cup qualifying next year, the signs appear to be bright for the Americans despite their recent results. The U.S. now has suffered five straight defeats since winning the Gold Cup in June. However, three of the losses came with an under-strength squad in the Copa America. Sunday's effort points to hope for the future.

"We are in a cycle that will hopefully see further improvement and I feel we are seeing some good signs," Bob Bradley said. "Of course, you want to win every game, but everyone will have learned something about themselves and how they played the game."

The coach's challenge is how to make the best use out of the skills he has at his disposal. In the international game, there can be no trades, transfers or free-agent signings – you get what you are given.

What Bradley has been handed is a group of players in excellent physical condition, a strong work rate and some flashes of real quality. There is also plenty of spirit, as evidenced by the way goalkeeper Tim Howard played on after dislocating the ring finger on his left hand and having it yanked back into place.

"The end result is that we are never going to play a team better than Brazil," Howard said. "The intensity and the preparation that we brought to this game, we can take that into games against weaker teams and play with confidence. I think hopefully we take those good things from the game."

Other positives for the Americans included the emergence of Clint Dempsey, whose stint with Fulham of the English Premier League has helped him develop as an all-round striker and has given him an extra sense of belief to bring to national team duty.

DaMarcus Beasley and Landon Donovan will have more opportunities to exert greater influence against weaker opposition, and their lives will be made easier if Bradley and Feilhaber continue to be effective in the center.

Feilhaber, of Premiership strugglers Derby County, was born in Brazil – making this match extra special for him and his family.

"It was great for me and great for the team," Feilhaber said. "We didn't get the result we wanted, but we played good stuff. And if a couple of calls had gone our way, it could have been different.

"Our team is still young and growing and getting used to each other. We will keep developing and will become a better team over the next year or two."


As he dialed a pay phone inside the American Legion Hall in Lima, Ohio, the young general manager of the Albany Patroons prayed Phil Jackson had changed his mind about coaching basketball. Jim Coyne had desperately tried to get him to take the Albany Patroons job months before, believing that an old New York Knicks star would sell tickets in upstate New York.

"He was fed up with basketball and didn't want anything to do with it," Coyne says now. So he hired Dean Meminger, watched him struggle to 15 losses in 23 games to start the 1982-83 season, and soon Coyne was calling back to Montana, begging Jackson to reconsider his stand on coaching. Just finish the season out, and see what you think of the coaching, Coyne told Jackson. Beyond that, there would be no commitments.

"Call me back in an hour," Jackson said.

When Coyne did, Jackson said "Yes," packed his bags, moved to Woodstock, about 50 miles south of Albany, and started that long, strange hippie trip to Springfield, Mass., for the Naismith Hall of Fame enshrinement on Friday. Twenty-four years ago, Jackson started work in the Continental Basketball Association on the rehabilitation project that Red Auerbach insisted that he never dared try. For those six years in the 1980s, Jackson loved to drive the vans to Toronto and Bangor in the CBA because there was more leg room in the driver's seat. Jackson always gave himself, and his players, space to operate in a sport where coaches' grips grow tighter.

Within weeks in ‘83, Jackson had the last-place Patroons beating the CBA All-Stars in a game.

Within a year, he won the league championship.

What worked in the Washington Street Armory in upstate New York would work in Chicago and Los Angeles for him.

"He brought a different vibe, an air of confidence," says a guard on those Patroons, Phil Seymore, now the women's coach at Providence College. "He made the game really simple; his instructions, they were simple.

"You know, once, we drove the van to Maine, got dressed right there on it, went out on the court and they were killing us. I'm thinking, ‘Call a timeout man,' but he would never call it. Afterwards, he'd explain, ‘I want you guys to figure it out on the court, instead of me doing it for you.' He did that a lot, and you grew to understand the value of it."

As did Jordan and Pippen, Shaq and Kobe. Jackson was forever a student of the simplicity that his Red, the Knicks' Red Holzman, taught him on those great champions in the early 1970's. As history goes, the debate about the greatest of all time will rage between Auerbach and Jackson. Despite kobe’s summer of discontent, the Los Angeles Lakers are no closer to getting Jackson his 10th title to pass Auerbach. Jackson will probably stay at nine titles, and that tie will energize the debate forever.

As it turns out, these Lakers have turned into the NBA rebuilding job that Red Auerbach insisted he never had; only Jackson the coach doesn't have Auerbach the GM on his side. Best coach ever? Jackson and Auerbach come out of different NBAs, different circumstances. They sure coached basketball a different way: Auerbach used fear and intimidation, and Jackson has always appealed to a ballplayer's sensibilities and intellect. Auerbach challenged his players' manhood, the way that Jackson challenged their minds.

Yes, Jackson can be arrogant, even pompous, but that air of aristocracy added to his aura. Of course, nothing Jackson ever did was as insulting as lighting a cigar on the bench of a basketball game to rub an opponent's face in a loss.

Five years ago, Jackson was on his way to tying Auerbach with his ninth NBA title, and Auerbach, legendary curmudgeon, was hardly blanketing himself with grace. Whatever the record books said, Auerbach wanted everyone to believe that he was still history's greatest coach. He had reminded everyone that Jackson had found ready-made dynasties, that he had walked into Chicago with the Jordan-Pippen Bulls, and Los Angeles for the Kobe-Shaq Lakers. Auerbach was determined to give Jerry Krause and Jerry West responsibility for constructing those dynasties, because it diminished Jackson's impact.

After Jackson told a room of reporters that a third party had reached out to him in 2002, told him that Red wanted him to know that he was misquoted, that he never really meant those words, I made a call to Auerbach to check on it.

"So what did Phil say," Red grumbled. "That I said I was misquoted? About what?"

When told, Auerbach said "Well, what I said is true. What isn't criticism – it's true. He's done a fantastic job with the teams he's had – either Chicago or Los Angeles. All I said is that he never tried it the other way. He's never tried building a team and teaching the fundamentals … When he's gone in there, they've been ready made for him. It's just a matter of putting his system in there. They don't worry about developing players if they're not good enough. They just go get someone else.

"But hey, when the guy has won as many close games as he has, he has got to be pretty damn good."

He goes into Springfield now shoulder to shoulder with Auerbach, an old hippie who made the commute between Woodstock and Albany before Krause ever brought him to Chicago, and West to the Lakers. Coyne, the old Patroons GM, still thinks about that telephone call from the American Legion Hall in Lima, Ohio.

"Had I not made it, who knows where his path would've taken him?" he said.

Now, it takes him to the Hall of Fame, where every coaching bust must measure itself with that of Phil Jackson. Red will roll over in his grave, but Jackson stands shoulder to shoulder with him into basketball's forever

Saturday, September 8, 2007



Cast: Nandha, Sherin

Direction: Ravichandran

Music: Ranjit Barot

Production: Mahadevan Ganesh, Usha Venkatramani

Kajini – Hey Ramal, I heard you watched Urchagam, How is it?

Ramal – Please don't ask about that, I was unable to sleep whole of last night.

Kajini – Was that so disturbing like Kaadhal or Sethu?

Ramal – It was disturbing alright, but not in the right sense.

Kajini – Oh, but I loved the music and expected the film to be good.

Ramal – Music was good to hear but the effect has been totally disappointing on screen and there is absolutely no impact.

Kajini – Fine, What is the story all about?

Ramal – I will start the story and you can fill in the gaps as the film treads on expected path with no twists or turn whatsoever.

Kajini – OK, I will try.

Ramal – Sherin is a Christian living with her mother and she and Nandha are friends.

Kajini – One of them must be having a secret crush on other, right?

Ramal – Bang on, it is Nandha who is attracted towards Sherin.

Kajini – That was easy, and what about Sherin's mother? Does she approve of this wedding?

Ramal – No, be patient, let me continue and then you fill up.

Kajini – OK

Ramal – Sherin's mother falls sick and needs to be operated quickly and Sherin is not able to afford the operation expenses.

Kajini – The villain should definitely make his appearance now trying to help the family but ask a lofty favor in return in the form of Sherin, right?

Ramal – Bull's eye, but her mother also happens to be in favor of this proposal and Sherin accepts this.

Kajini – Is the boy a sadist or does he make sexual advances towards Sherin and by the way, is the villain an NRI?

Ramal – Wow, you certainly have a flair for direction, but only half of your prediction is correct. The NRI doubts the chastity of Sherin and conducts a virginity test after making her unconscious.

Kajini – Oh God… such a demeaning act…And how does Sherin come to know of this and start hating the NRI?

Ramal – The baddie himself tells her.

Kajini – That's the stupidest thing he can do..

Ramal – Come on, he is after all a Tamil villain... and Nandha having come to know of this archaic act helps Sherin escape from the clutches of the villain which forms the rest of the story.

Kajini – Very formulaic. The stills I saw in behindwoods were so good and I expected the film to rock. Nandha sporting a different look giving an impression that he is some kind of social reformer and Sherin looking hot in the pictures..I thought the film will have some interesting elements. How have they acted?

Ramal – Nandha is a talented actor but has not been fully utilized in this film. His character has not been etched properly and Sherin is hot but camera angles on her could have been much better. On the performance front she has not done much either.

Kajini – What about others? Vivek is in the movie right?

Ramal - Yes, Vivek does his usual act which is getting very repetitive. Someone must have told the villain that it is enough to keep an angry face through out.

Kajini – Ok…there should be something positive in the movie?

Ramal – Yes, the cinematography is good, and we can laugh for some of Vivek's comedy, but the rest are negatives, I didn't expect such a movie from Ravichandran who had given us films like Kanedhirae thondrinaal. In Urchagam, there is absolutely no sense of logic and there are too many clichés. There is no continuity in the scenes and the worst part is that the audience is not allowed to settle down as the introduction of the characters is not done properly.

Kajini –So.. is the movie is a damp squib?

Ramal – I guess, but the response evoked due to music may bring in few people but that is definitely not enough to sustain at the box-office.

Verdict - Urchagam only in the title

Stars -


King Roger Federer advanced to the U.S. Open final on Saturday with a 7-5, 6-1, 7-5 victory over No. 4 Nikolay Davydenko of Russia.

The top-seeded Federer can capture his fourth consecutive U.S. Open title on Sunday with a win over No.3 Novak Djokovic, who advanced earlier in the day with a 6-4, 6-4, 6-3 victory over 15th-seeded Spaniard David Ferrer.

The last player to win at least four straight U.S. titles was Bill Tilden, who won six consecutive championships from 1920-25. This will be 10th consecutive Grand Slam final for Federer, who has 11 Grand Slam titles including wins at the Australian Open and Wimbledon earlier this year.

Federer, who has a 26-match winning streak at the U.S. Open, will be participating in his sixth consecutive final on the Tour and his ninth overall in 2007. He has won five of his 50 career singles titles this season.

With his 10th win in as many meetings with Davydenko, the Swiss superstar improved to 14-2 in Grand Slam semifinals.

Conversely, this will be Djokovic's first appearance in a Grand Slam final. It's been a career year for the 20-year-old who has captured four of his six singles titles since the start of 2007.

One of those titles came last month on the hardcourt at Montreal when he defeated Federer in the Rogers Cup final. It marked his first victory against the world No. 1 in five meetings.


Justin Henin claimed her second grand slam title of the season when she regained the U.S. Open championship with a comfortable victory over Svetlana Kuznetsova in the women's singles final on Saturday.

Henin, who was victorious at Flushing Meadows in 2003, followed up her French Open success in June with a seventh career grand slam win when she brushed aside the fourth-seeded Russian, 6-1, 6-3, in one hour and 22 minutes at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

The victory also ensured the world's No. 1 would finish the championship without having dropped a set, a feat that included victories over both Serena and Venus Williams.

"It's great, this one is maybe the most important one," Henin said. "The quality I've played in the last couple of weeks has been amazing - and it's just a great feeling because I had a tough draw.

"I had a lot of things to prove myself, not to anyone else, and I did it. I've been so consistent for two weeks, so calm and so relaxed and it's been great. I didn't lose a set in Toronto and here in two weeks - and it's just great and I'm really proud of it."

Henin celebrated by climbing through the crowd and up to the players' guest box where she embraced coach Carlos Rodriguez before collecting a first prize of $1.4 million.

"It's a big day for Carlos and I," Henin said. "Just the two of us really know how hard it's been the last year. It's been tough and he gave me unbelievable support. He was just there for me, he and his family, and we just kept fighting together.

"He knew I really needed it at that time and he never stopped pushing me. He's been hard with me also but he had a big role for sure. It's been a great year for both of us and that's why I want to go and see him in the stand. I was glad that I got to go and hug him at the end. That was important to me."

Kuznetsova, who followed Henin as the U.S. Open titleholder in 2004, had grounds for optimism. The 22-year-old Russian won the Pilot Pen Tennis tournament in New Haven in the week before the Open. Kuznetsova came into the match on a 10-match winning streak that will result in her climbing to a career-high No. 2 in the world rankings on Monday.

"It's very tough," Kuznetsova said. "I think the match was much closer than the score, for sure. I've said it before, but Justine's No. 1. When she plays her best game, I have to play my best game. I didn't play my best game so that's why I lost."

Henin, 25, took control from the start, breaking the Kuznetsova serve in the opening game of the match and repeating the feat in the third game to take a 3-0 lead.

There was a wobble in the fourth game when the Belgian served two double faults and a subsequent unforced error gifted Kuznetsova a way back into the set with a break point.

The Russian failed to take advantage, and Henin punished her for it, delivering a second-serve ace to take the game.

Kuznetsova finally got on the scoreboard when she held serve in the fifth game but it proved to be merely a blip for Henin. She won the next two games to wrap up the set in 33 minutes.

To her credit, Kuznetsova did not appear downhearted by the first-set drubbing and hung in the second set before a number of unforced errors continued to limit her ability to make inroads into the top seed's advantage.

The lengthy fourth game of the set proved the breaking point, however, as Kuznetsova created game points only to blow the decisive play with sloppy shotmaking.

Again, Henin made the most of the opportunity presented her, breaking serve after the seventh deuce of the game and signaling her delight with a shrieked Allez! as she moved into a 3-1 lead.

The Russian had a break point in the next game but could not convert.

Kuznetsova showed some fight as she served to save the match at 5-2 in the second set, winning the game to love, but merely delaying the inevitable in a disappointing spectacle that had promised a much closer contest.

And there was hope for the No. 4 as Henin showed signs of nerves with two double faults, the first of them coming after a spectator let out a yell between the Belgian's first and second serves.

Kuznetsova earned a break point only to lose it with a weak forehand out wide and then Henin committed her seventh double fault of the match to give her rival another break point.

Yet again, the Russian was unable to close out the game and Henin moved to championship point on another error, finishing the match with a drop shot to pull in her rival before lobbing Kuznetsova for victory.

"With these players, so high level, you just have few opportunities, not many," Kuznetsova said. "If you don't use them, there's no way I'm going to win. I had so many of them, I felt I just didn't move to the ball well enough because I was pretty tight.

"So, I think I've got to learn a lot from this final and just see improvement."

Tuesday, September 4, 2007


I had started writing this post much earlier but then wanted to post it on a day of significance and what better day than the 50th day of its release. Sivaji has been one movie which has almost become too tough to resist. Though I have watched it 6 times so far, I am still dying to watch it many more times. I keep saying to my friends that if I had been in India (or in some place where the movie is still running), I would have definitely watched it a minimum of 20 times. Seriously, I have not enjoyed a Thalaivar movie as much as I enjoyed Sivaji and more importantly, no Thalaivar movie has left me wanting for more, even after repeated viewings.

To quench my thirst for some Sivaji action, I surf around looking for You Tube videos of some scenes and songs. Since I do not download movies in general, there was no way I was going to download the movie and watch it in my laptop. Sivaji means so much to me and thus, anything less than watching it in a theater is unacceptable for me. I bought the audio CD, watched the movie in the theater for 6 times and will buy atleast 5 copies of the original DVD whenever it is released (Oh..the remaining copies are for friends as gifts).

As a Thalaivar fan, all I was concerned before the movie's release was that the movie should do well. And boy, has it done well. As every other site and news report says, the movie has already broken all existing records in Tamil cinema and I am sure when it is done running, it would have become the highest grossing movie in the history of Indian cinema. After Chandramukhi set all those collection records, movies like Anniyan did gross an amount which while remaining lesser than CM, was in the same league as CM. That is when Thalaivar probably thought that we should do a movie where the collections of the same should be in an altogether different league and Thalaivar's dream has come true in a big way with Sivaji. I am not sure if even Thalaivar's future movies can break the records set by Sivaji (though I will be the one who will be the happiest if that does happen).

Alright now to the top 10 Sivaji moments. Moments that took my breath away, moments that made me cry out loud, moments that made me leap from my seat, moments that got me excited way too much, moments that tingled my spine or to put it simply, moments that only Thalaivar can provide. I thought of ordering them but then, that would just not be fair. Though I like some of the moments listed below better than the others, there are atleast a good 3-4 moments which I simply can not put in any order bcos each one of them is just as stunning as another.

1) Sivaji-kku appuram evan-da
Sujatha had said in an interview before the movie was released on whether there will be any punch dialogs in Sivaji to which he replied We have made Vivek do the honors instead of the Superstar. Punch-kku punch. Dignity-kku dignity. I simply loved it even when I read the interview and when I saw that scene when Vivek says Six-kku appuram seven-da...Sivaji-kku appuram yeven-da, it was just too good to be true and we all shouted Yevenum illa-da

2) Singam..Single-aa thaan varum
I don't think I need to say anything about this scene as this scene and the dialog have become part of folk lore. I was completely speechless when I saw this scene for the first time. I simply loved the way how there is a gap in this dialog. He first says Kannaa, panninga thaan koottamaa varum and then hits the goondas who fly in the air and it is then as they are falling down like nine pins, he finishes the dialog by saying Singam, single-aa than varum That glitter in his eyes as he says this is so typical of Thalaivar

3) Thalaivar's mind-blowing intro in the Adhiradi song
Though I personally liked the way how Thalaivar lands on the ground after flying & picks up the guitar, many friends of mine liked the way he is shown lying on the bike with his face covered with that hat and with his feet crossed. Whichever is your pick, those few seconds when the Adhiradi song starts are simply out-of-the-world. (it is to be noted here that I have already run out of adjectives/ superlatives) I will have to add here that whatever follows (the whole song basically) deserves another entry in this list. But for the sake of repetition, I am leaving it out.

4) Thalaivar riding that bike in the Style song in that blue jacket.
I am not sure how many of you noticed this. To be very frank, this was the only hairdo in that Style song I was kind of apprehensive about when the stills were released (my personal favorite was the one he sports when he is wearing the orange overcoat and I was actually disappointed that Shankar did not give adequate screen time for that outfit). But once I saw that blue outfit on the screen, all my doubts evaporated into thin air. The way he nonchalantly chews the bubble gum while driving is breath-taking. While on the same dress, the following scene where Thalaivar's mirror image and Thalaivar do different things in slow-mo is equally awesome and thus has to be given its due recognition.

5) That walk back to the auto in THE teakada scene.
The whole teakada scene is spectacular & will rank way up there among the best Thalaivar scenes of all time. But the way the scene ends with this particular walk is just the crowning glory of the whole scene. Everything about that walk is mind-blowing - first the way he gets up from the bench after stylishly gets his right leg over the bench, then walks back by looking sideways without looking at the camera, all the time chewing the Bajji and then how he gets into the auto & says Polaam right, there can not be a better moment than this. It was no coincidence that Thalaivar’s daughter too cites the same scene as her most favorite scene of the movie. We (myself & my friends) all talk about how the shooting spot would have looked like on the day they canned this scene. Given the fact that Shankar himself is such a huge fan of Thalaivar, I am sure they all would have enjoyed this scene to the hilt even while filming it.

6) Thalaivar's entry in the Haneefa stabbing scene
You don't realize what hit you. That is how I felt when suddenly the doors open and Thalaivar strides into the room alongside the other goondas. As he answers Haneefa's question as to who it is, by saying Boss in how own magnetic voice and enters the room with that background by ARR is definitely one of the high moments of the movie.

7) Vaaji vaji song walk
Thalaivar's walk is something that leaves every Thalaivar fan in a trance and that midukku in his walk is simply unparalleled. Among all the walks in the movie, I actually loved this one in the Vaaji song. This actually comes for a few fleeting seconds. Right when the song starts, after Thalaivar gets out of that pallakku, he is first showered with rose petals & then he flashes his trademark smile, which instantly sent me into a daze already. And it is then that he is shown walking along the corridor with the sword in his hand. Amazing. Awestruck.

8) Music store fight scene close-up
Right in the middle of the musical store fight where the fight shifts from the main area of the store to a storage area full of guitars and drums, first, Thalaivar's eyes are shown in close-up and then his majestic walk, with the Power ranger jetix thaan-da Pathu viralum gimmicks thaan-da lines in the background. Another moment when Thalaivar just makes you scream out of pure adrenaline rush.

9) Helicopter backdrop walk
Well, there are 2 walks with the helicopter in the background and needless to say which among the 2 is more hair-rising than the others. The one in the all-white attire was the clear winner. (Its not that the one with the all-black outfit is bad but somehow, I have always liked when Thalaivar comes in a all-white dress , right from the Raajaadhi Raja days) This scene is a very unique one. First up showing a helicopter up-close & landing with the dirt flying is majestic in its own way. But as only he can, Thalaivar simply overshadows the presence of the helicopter in the background with his mere walk. A doubtless Wow moment for any die-hard Thalaivar fan.

10) Mottai boss intro
The less I write about the Mottai boss, the better bcos if I start my ranting, I just can not stop. Thalaivar's majesty in that get-up is truly unbelievable. It is for that one get-up alone I will say Sivaji is the best Thalaivar film ever. The moment he gets down from that helicopter and starts walking in never-before-seen style of walking, I was shouting Thalaivaa to the hilt. It is for moments like these that fans like me die for and Thalaivar fans have to thank Shankar for showing us all a facet of Thalaivar we would not have seen in our life times if not for him.


To allow his nation gold medal aspirations again, Argentina coach Sergio Hernandez, one of the fabulous minds of international hoops, had been one of those coaches counting on the dysfunction and disarray of USA Basketball. Three years ago, the world watched Larry Brown embarrass everyone on Team USA with his selfishness, feeding a climate of division and dissension, and the world watched Stephon Marbury run a team that had little practice together, a flawed structure and a fatal understanding of the FIBA game.

The Americans had no passing point guards, no shooters and no leadership, and they turned out to be no match for Puerto Rico – never mind the peerless precision of gold medalist Argentina.

Now, Hernandez understands the trouble for the rest of the world next summer in Beijing after watching Team USA drop one of those old test A-Bombs in the Nevada desert as an unmistakable declaration delivered to the rest of the world: Once more, the gold medal goes through the red, white and blue.

Beijing is far from a sure thing, but you have to like America's chances again.

"This is probably one of the best USA teams that I have ever seen," Hernandez said. "Nobody will ever forget the first Dream Team with Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, but I like this USA team very much with Kobe Bryant and LeBron James. They really know how to play together."

For him, there was something else too. The Americans played hard throughout the tournament – at tipoff and with a 40-point lead – and that told him they respected the world again. They respected the game. And with that kind of talent, that kind of purpose, there's no stopping them.

This had to be the highest of complements to Jerry Colangelo, the curator of the Team USA renaissance. Under his watch, the Americans have addressed their issues with shooting and defense and proper pre-Olympic preparation. As for coaching, the truest test comes in the Beijing Olympics when there's a tight game and Mike Krzyzewski has to do more than manage these riches.

Bryant is hell-bent on winning something again. James has suddenly added the final devastating element to his game – the jump shot. Carmelo Anthony is impossible to guard for international forwards. Jason Kidd has cultivated an environment of selflessness, inspiring a locker room where he said, "There's no bad apple. There's nobody that wants more shots, or more minutes."

Most of all, Team USA is determined to defend. Penetrators are stopped, and shooters are covered. Magic marveled over the way this pre-Olympic team resembled the original Dream Team in 1992 in that it turned defense into devastating fast-break points. As much as anything, here's what happened in Vegas: USA Basketball manufactured an identity again.

"We know who we are now and we didn't know that coming into the tournament," Colangelo said. "I understand the questions coming in about our outside shooting, our defense, our chemistry. We had questions ourselves and they were answered. "

As Team USA stands now, this should be the United States' best Olympic squad since the forever gold standard of Barcelona 15 years ago. In this world, that doesn't guarantee gold anymore.

Between now and Beijing, there are still players who will return from injuries, and almost assuredly, those who will go down too. From the 12-man roster at the FIBA Americas championship, most insiders believe it's unlikely that Tyson Chandler, Mike Miller and Tayshaun Prince will be asked back to play in Beijing. Dwyane Wade will be the sixth man and Chris Bosh will return for Olympic duty. Beyond that, expect the final fight for roster spots to include Carlos Boozer, Chris Paul, Shane Battier and maybe a rehabbed Elton Brand.

Still, Colangelo warned: "We can never bring enough shooters (to Beijing)."

For Colangelo, there are tough choices to make. He has decided that there will be a final minicamp shortly after the end of the NBA finals in late June to give him and the coaching staff one final look at the team. They'll use the NBA season to measure the progress of young players (Deron Williams and Paul) and perhaps the erosion of elders (Chauncey Billups) to make final cuts.

Colangelo talked about finding role players, about creating a team that used complementary parts to co-exist with stars. He didn't want an All-Star team, but let's face it: This is an All-Star team. Nevertheless, it will still be interesting to watch Wade integrate himself back into the lineup in 2008 because he's obligated now to take a secondary role to James and Bryant. Wade's attitude is marvelous, and the fact that he spent so much time with the team despite a shoulder surgery that sidelined him said a lot about his commitment to the cause.

Through it all, there were still times at the FIBA Americas when Kobe went off into Kobeland, breaking the offensive flow and forcing shots. That's Kobe, and that's what you live with. Yet, he invested far more on defense than he has with the Los Angeles Lakers in recent seasons, largely because he didn't need to conserve as much energy for offense with Team USA.

Forty million dollars wasn't enough to convince Duke's coach to oversee Bryant in L.A., but Duke's coach found Kobe motivated for utter annihilation this summer. In a lot of ways, the tone Bryant and Kidd set with the team has eased whatever tensions lingered over the debacle against Greece in the world championships last summer.

Still, there's going to be some uncertainty surrounding Krzyzewski's ability to make adjustments at the highest level of international ball until he has to do it in Beijing. Among players who were part of the USA Basketball program a year ago, there were private criticisms that Krzyzewski preached team-first mantra while catering far too much to his stars – James, Wade and Anthony.

Now, Bryant and Kidd have taken ownership of the group, and that solved that. Anthony is a great talent, but he's still more of a follower than a leader. Around USA Basketball, everyone was thrilled when Bruce Bowen challenged James for his disrespectful attitude toward staff members a year ago. Bowen never made the cut and maybe ultimately didn't have the star power to command James' respect.

There were some concerns about LeBron's commitment earlier this summer, when he suggested that he might be too tired to participate in the second of the three-year commitment. Colangelo barked back publicly, challenging James to honor his word and show up in Vegas. LeBron was genius for Team USA as its most accurate perimeter shooter and prolific passer.

"What really helped with LeBron this year," one NBA source said, "was having Kidd and Bryant there."

Krzyzewski has a great sounding board on the international game with Phoenix Suns coach Mike D'Antoni as his assistant, and the hiring of the Detroit Pistons' crack Euro scout, Tony Ronzone, which promises to make Team USA far more prepared for what's coming in the Olympics. What's more, Krzyzewski has done a terrific job connecting with his players. Unlike Brown, Krzyzewski isn't interested in publicly disparaging them. He knows that these players didn't sign up for that kind of badgering, and he will never turn on them the way Brown did.

As Argentina's coach, Hernandez, and Team USA's only gold medalist, Kidd, both said: This has a chance to be one of the great American Olympic teams ever. The world game has change dramatically since the Dream Team in '92, and yet the United States still has an opportunity to be dominant again. Whatever dysfunction that stopped the Americans in the past two world championships and Athens Games, whatever marginal competition at the FIBA Americas that contributed to our inflated sense of expectation again, there is still no denying the obvious: Once again, the gold medal goes through the red, white and blue.


When asked if he realized Roger Federer had won 35 straight points -- yes, 35 -- on his serve, Feliciano Lopez blinked his green eyes.

"On his serve?" he repeated.

Maybe he was clarifying the stat, maybe he was in disbelief. No matter Monday night. Federer was off to play Andy Roddick in the quarterfinals at the U.S. Open.

The streak came out of nowhere. The match was tied going into the third set, and Federer was down 0-40. Then, over a span of nine games, he won every point he served.

Think about it: All it would have taken was one strong return by Lopez. One slightly off shot by Federer. One double-fault.

Nothing. Not until was too late, right as Federer closed out the final game.

Told the remarkable number, Federer was curious -- and impressed.

"What are you talking about?" he said. "That's awesome."

"Oh, come on. What have I done?" he said, playfully. "I should have broken him to win 6-3 so I wouldn't have to serve it out."

Federer wound up winning 3-6, 6-4, 6-1, 6-4 in the fourth round, rallying after the Spanish left-hander caused him some early trouble.

"I was under a lot of pressure tonight," Federer said.

Hard to tell, especially when he got rolling. Trying for his fourth straight U.S. Open title, the No. 1-ranked Federer faces No. 5 Andy Roddick.

Federer has done pretty well against the 2003 champion and the runner-up last year. To the tune of 13-1, including nine straight wins.

"It's a great record, but it doesn't help me," Federer said. "We'll see how it goes. Andy's always tough at the U.S. Open."

Roger Federer of Switzerland returns a shot to Feliciano Lopez of Spain during their match at the US Open tennis tournament in New York, Monday, Sept. 3, 2007.
AP - Sep 3, 11:02 pm EDT
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Roddick is the only American left, marking the first U.S. Open since 1998 without at least two in the quarterfinals.

James Blake had a chance to join in, but missed on three match points and lost to No. 10 Tommy Haas 4-6, 6-4, 3-6, 6-0, 7-6 (4).

Earlier in the tournament, Blake ended his 0-for-9 slump in five-set tries. His rooting section, the rowdy J-Block, did its best to cheer him on, but the sixth-seeded Blake couldn't come up with that last, winning shot.

"It's going to sting for a little while," he said. "Just another unfortunate learning experience."

Haas will play No. 4 Nikolay Davydenko in the quarters. He eliminated Lee Hyung-taik 6-1, 6-3, 6-4.

Earlier, Roddick was leading 7-6 (6), 2-0 when his fourth-round opponent, No. 9 Tomas Berdych, stopped playing because he had trouble breathing and felt sluggish.

"I haven't been tested much this tournament, so far," said Roddick, who immediately went to the practice court to hit for nearly an hour.

Almost from the get-go, Roddick knew Berdych was ailing.

"I heard him say something to the umpire early on in the first," Roddick said. "Then, of course, I'm trying to eavesdrop on his whole conversation he's having with the trainer."

Said Berdych: "It wasn't any, like, straight one problem or one pain or something. Just like, generally didn't feel well."

On the women's side, former champ Svetlana Kuznetsova beat Victoria Azarenka 6-2, 6-3 and moved on to play Agnes Szavay. The 18-year-old player from Hungary defeated Julia Vakulenko 6-4, 7-6 (1).

Also, No. 18 Shahar Peer beat No. 30 Agnieszka Radwanska 6-4, 6-1, and No. 6 Anna Chakvetadze stopped Tamira Paszek 6-1, 7-5.

Roger Federer's shoes are seen as he serves to Feliciano Lopez of Spain during their match at the US Open tennis tournament in New York, Monday, Sept. 3, 2007.
AP - Sep 3, 11:01 pm EDT
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On Tuesday night, top-seeded Justine Henin plays No. 8 Serena Williams in the most attractive match of the day.

Also in action are No. 2 Rafael Nadal and No. 3 Novak Djokovic.

Concerned that the two women's quarterfinals set for Wednesday -- Kuznetsova vs. Szavay and Chakvetadze vs. Peer -- weren't dazzling enough, U.S. Open officials changed the schedule.

The match between six-time major champion Venus Williams and No. 3 Jelena Jankovic was shifted from Tuesday to Wednesday night, with both players' approval.

Blake, one of the most popular players in the tournament, only wished he was still going on.

"I was a little indecisive at the end there," he said. "Did come down to one or two points there. It's frustrating I didn't win them this time."

The crowd was crazed throughout the final set, then fell into virtual silence at the end.

Haas hit a 113 mph ace that Blake challenged, and the players looked at each other as the crowd became quiet with a mix of anticipation and apprehension.

The replay on the scoreboard confirmed the ball was indeed good, and it was over.

"I'm not going to celebrate like crazy right in front of him," Haas said.