AUSTRALIAN OPEN 2018: Sharapova to face Angelique Kerber in Rd. 3

Sharapova is to face Angelique Kerber in the third round of the 2018 Australian Open after victories over Tatjana Maria (6-1, 6-4 Rd. 1) and world number 15 Anastasija Sevastova (6-1, 7-6 Rd. 2).

Germany’s Kerber, meanwhile, is on a roll as she chalked her 11th consecutive win for 2018 after beating Donna Vekic (6-4, 6-1 Rd. 2) and would likely be another tough match for Maria Sharapova who still seems to be finding her way since her return nine months ago.

See, though Sharapova if you recall had been fantastic at the recent US Open as she reached the fourth round while beating now world number 1 Simona Halep in the opening round, the farthest that Sharapova has gone in her next tournaments was just the semifinals — well of course, she won a non-grand slam in Tianjin against unseeded Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus that time. But then, that was just Sharapova’s first WTA title in two years!

In round 2 of this Australian Open, while Sharapova had her moments against Sevastova of having more net points won, the bulk of her points were actually just the result of her winners wherein she had 30 against Sevastova’s six.

Match Summary: Sharapova v Sevastova round 2

Still, if Sharapova wants to get past world number 16 Kerber, she better take note of her unforced errors (31) wherein she was either a little slow to the ball or just had less control over her shots. Regardless if she only made two more double faults than her next opponent Kerber, the German only had 17 unforced errors against Croatia’s Vekic. So, time for your A-game, Maria!

Their third round match will be on January 20 at 4 in the afternoon.

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Music: Welcome to Hell (December 2017)

With all the worms coming out of the cans of many powerful men as of late, an SNL skit or song just came up to address the sexual harassment issue..

Welcome to Hell! Heard of it? Here, just listen and check out the lyrics.

It’s actually kind of cute in using such a playful song to get the attention of the powerful — not just in the entertainment industry but in whatever field they may be in. You know, most of these guys do not really care and are just too busy collaborating and trying to, like, hoard the earth’s wealth and resources that they need something unusual to happen or someone out of the blue just to tell them of the consequences of their actions before they — hopefully — listen, change and start really caring for others.

Certainly, sexual harassment is never good. It’s traumatic. It’s degrading. It’s something that needs to be addressed even before gender equality in the workplace. Why? For this equality propaganda, as in Lean In, is basically about women’s pay and opportunities which, in reality, is only possible for highly connected women. Ordinary women would not be able to truly relate to this — that’s sad and so, another story all together.

Meanwhile, sexual harassment is an issue that most every woman on earth could be at risk of. From the streets to public transports to the workplace and to just about anywhere; and where these ‘habitual predators’ come in the form of a drunk, an addict, a pervert or yes, a powerful entity. So, thanks to the brave who came out, this could now be the start of a long but positive battle.

In the end, we are not really surprised that this kind of harassment has been happening since time immemorial but what we’re surprised of though is — at this time and ‘liberal’ age?? Sure, we are only human and biological needs are understandable — that’s why, get married or just keep things to yourself!

Fornication as well as orgies have been around even before we knew the term ‘sexual harassment’ — and they are all NOT good for the soul. (Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS)

Hmm. If only for sin, how about addressing fornication as well? Rom. 1:29,32

Martina Hingis: Women’s Doubles World Number One and her Legacy

So, the Swiss Miss Martina Hingis and her doubles partner Chan Yung-jan of Taiwan has been on a tear as they have won 3 titles in the last 30 days — helping her regain the Women’s Doubles World Number One Ranking.

The 2017 US Open, the Wuhan Open and just hours ago, the China Open against Timea Babos (HUN) and Andrea Hlaváčková (CZE), 6-1, 6-4.

Wow, how hectic?! That’s like 3 tournaments in a month! And more so if you are aware that Hingis even participates in the Mixed Doubles — in fact, she along with Jamie Murray were crowned champions in this year’s US Open.

Well, Hingis’ latest jewel, the China Open is already her 64th career doubles title as she continues to build on her legacy which has spanned over 20 years since her heyday in the singles circuit. And by the way, did you know that she even became World Number One in Women’s Singles — 31 March 1997 — way ahead of tennis great Serena Williams (8 July 2002)? Yet Hingis is just a year older! However, nagging injuries as a consequence of competing at a tender age resulted in her retirement from singles play 10 years ago.

Hingis (1997), youngest Wimbledon champ at 16. Elected to Hall Of Fame in 2013.

Incidentally, Hingis’ head-to-head matchup with Serena is 6-7, these were mostly close games though both had matches of sweeping each other. Yes, she’s not a power player but she’s a swift and cerebral one that’s armed with a great serve-and-volley game whom Serena and other top players may not have beaten if not for her ‘soft tissues’ — and consequently, lack of focus which was most likely due to her injury trauma.

Hingis and Serena Williams (Photo: Clive Brunskill/ALLSPORT)

Now, it seems Hingis is on a mission. And that is to rake in as many titles from the back door. The doubles play. Hey, if your body isn’t strong enough for the rigors of playing in the singles circuit then playing with a partner could still get the job done. Perhaps as the greatest doubles player??

Hmm. That’s cerebral for you.

2018 FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship Qualification (AVC) Latest

Today is the last day of the qualifiers for the 2018 FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship to be held in Japan which would run from Sep 29 to Oct 20, 2018.

This qualifiers actually started last September 20 with 2 pools composed of 5 teams each with Japan taking a bye being the host of the 2018 tournament.

2018 AVC Qualifiers

At any rate, the qualifiers have already been determined since yesterday after China, South Korea and Thailand notched their third straight win, respectively — leaving today’s matches as just for formality’s sake.

And so, let’s just check out on each of the three teams’ highlights.

As for today’s schedule, here goes..

September 24 Schedules

While the China against Chinese Taipei game is an obvious overmatch, the match between Thailand and South Korea would prove to be interesting — just hope they’d play competitively even if this is already a no-bearing game.

2017 FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Grand Champions Cup: China is Champ and the Awarding Blunder

It’s been three days since the conclusion of the Grand Champions Cup in Nagoya, Japan where the Chinese emerged as the champs even before their final game against the Japanese.

Now, this was so as the Chinese remained as the only undefeated team heading towards their last game — that even if they lose to the Japanese, they would still be crowned champions since they would still be 1 win ahead of second placer Brazil. Still, the Chinese proved to be worthy champions as they completed the sweep against the hosts.

2017 World Grand Champions Cup MVP: Zhu Ting

And well, what else is new? Chinese star Zhu Ting once again dominated the competition en route to two deserving awards — Best Outside Hitter and of course, the MVP plum. My, we’d be seeing more of her since she’s just 22!

Final Standing and Awards

While we do understand that it’s natural for host countries to include some of their own players when it comes to awarding — this should not be ‘too much’. Instead, priority should always be given to the Top Four finishers of any FIVB-sanctioned tournament for that matter.

Sadly in this case, the Russian volleybelles were skipped of the recognition and instead two awards were given to the Japanese — Best Setter and Best Libero. Sure, the Japanese are good but organizers could have at least given one of those awards to the Russians — after all, not only were the Russians ahead in points but they even beat the Japanese in their own encounter.

Russia beat Japan 22-25, 25-18, 25-22, 28-26

Fortunately for Japan, tho they were a point behind Russia, they got a higher ratio over their competition which could be used to justify their awards.

Anyway, this awarding oversight though reminds us of the recent AVC held in Biñan, Laguna where the Philippines’ Dawn Macandili got the nod as the 2nd Best Libero despite the country finishing way down at number 8. Wow! This is an obvious boner that it’s like a conspiracy!

2017 AVC Final Standings and Awards (Aug 9-17, Philippines)

More so, one could even question the award-giving body (or the Philippine organizers) as to how come Chatchu-on and Hattaya edged out their better teammates — Ajcharaporn Kongyot (Thailand’s best spiker) and Pleumjit Thinkaow (Thailand’s best middle blocker) — for their respective awards. This is a performance award, not a favorite player award — come on!

Stop this ‘host-favored’ trend before it drags down the awarding reputation.

2017 FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Grand Champions Cup: Japan already preparing for the 2020 Olympics??

We are currently in a one day break from the ongoing World Grand Champions Cup in Tokyo and Nagoya, Japan. It’s actually just a short 6-day tournament (September 5-10) which features the top regional women’s volleyball teams the world over, namely: China, Russia, the US, Brazil, Korea and Japan.

And so far after 2 games each, 4 teams are knotted at 1-1 each with Korea as the only winless team and China slotted on the other end of the table with a 2-0 card. These 6 initial games were played at Tokyo while the remaining 9 games would be played in Nagoya, Japan. Well, let’s get on with the hosts.

Tokyo Round results

JAPAN v KOREA

Against Korea, the Japanese won in straight sets 25-23, 25-21, 26-24. Obviously, the scores speaks for itself; yes, it may have been a sweep but it was a struggle for Japan — mainly because of Korea’s #7 Lee Jae-yeong who really stepped up in the absence of star spiker Kim Yeon-koung.

Japan’s Rika Nomoto spikes one against the Korean defense

Then again, the Japanese were also without Sarina Koga and Haruka Miyashita which then sort of leveled the field. Anyway, we just noticed that the Koreans were still quite the same tho in their lack of flexibility and just basically relied on height (and Kim Yeon-koung) like in many of their games.

Japan, meanwhile, banked on the power of Rika Nomoto with the help of Risa Shinnabe. Still, we were just wondering why Yuki Ishii was not getting enough playing time then when she is one of the better players in their roster.

RUSSIA v JAPAN

The following day, we saw the Japanese losing in 4 sets 22-25, 25-18, 25-22, 28-26 as the Russians just proved to be too tall for the hosts to overcome. But hey, tho the Russians looked like herons on the court, they move well!

They weren’t unsteady as the Japanese just found it hard to penetrate the Russian wall of #21 Ekaterina Efimova, #15 Tatiana Kosheleva and #14 Irina Fetisova while countering with bombs mainly from #8 Nataliya Goncharova.

Nagoya Round schedule

In the end, the Japanese should have learned from this match — that is on how to beat height — as they are clearly preparing for the next Olympics!

Notice? The current roster of Japan which they also fielded in the recent World Grand Prix does not have any player in their 30’s, the oldest being a couple of players aged 28. Meaning, they excluded players — no matter how good they are — who would be over 30 come the 2020 Olympics.

Saori Sakoda (L) and Kimura Saori (R) reacts after losing in the QF of the 2016 Olympics

Okay, Koyomi Tominaga is 28 but she’s a setter while Arisa Sato is a libero — like, they won’t be strained too much just as reserve middle blocker Ayaka Matsumoto would, too. This brings us to the conclusion why super spiker Saori Sakoda (‘Air Rio’) who’d be turning 30 in 3 months wasn’t included in this year’s lineup — and which also made us wonder if star captain Kimura Saori (who just turned 31 last August) was just forced to retire due to the policy of the Japan Volleyball Association. Hmm.

Shouldn’t they check on health, skills and interest first before deciding?

2017 US Open: Maria Sharapova’s amazing run is over

After three straight wins, the former US Open champion’s comeback is over as Russia’s Maria Sharapova lost to Latvia’s Anastasija Sevastova in 3 sets — 7-5, 4-6, 2-6. World number 16 Sevastova would now face unseeded American Sloane Stephens who won her fourth round match against world number 30 Julia Goerges of Germany 6-3, 3-6, 6-1.

So, what happened to Sharapova? Let’s have a look.

More than facing a 16th seed, Sharapova obviously got beaten because of her 51 unforced errors compared to Sevastova’s 14. Now, what does this mean? Practice and fatigue. Since she’s been out for more than a year, she clearly hasn’t really had competitive practice or matches which then contributed to her stamina and timing. Hey, your game will always be there, it’s in your subconscious, in your reflexes — but timing is key to these.

So, Sharapova could have lost to any player in that match who tried to make her run all over the court. See, without stamina, her howls became deeper as she expended her energy just to win the first set 7-5, tried to be competitive in the second set 4-6 — and where she just lost gas come the third 2-6.

World number 16 Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia

Sevastova Analysis. Anastasija simply did the right thing that anyone (facing a basically inactive opponent) would do, just run Maria to the ground. That’s it. Anastasija just played the basics well on this one.