2018 French Open: Interesting Matchups to See

Time again for another round of Grand Slam tennis and as you know late May is always about Roland Garros or more popularly known as the French Open.

In this year’s edition, Jelena Ostapenko is the defending champion; and below are the current rankings on women’s singles tennis.

Still, while everyone has their favorites, let’s tackle on some interesting matchups that we would like to see — Halep v Wozniacki, Ostapenko v Svitolina and of course, Serena Williams v Maria Sharapova. But whether these would actually happen depends more on whether they could win their matches rather than being grouped in the same section as some could be in a collision course even before the quarterfinals.

SIMONA HALEP v CAROLINE WOZNIACKI

Halep is grouped at the top half in section 1 while Wozniacki is at the bottom half in section 8, so this meeting would not happen until later in the tourney which is but fitting since they are ranked 1 and 2. And this is exactly why it would be interesting to watch them play against each other because while Halep is ranked number 1, she has actually never won a Grand Slam.

Wozniacki (L), Halep (R)

On the other hand, while Wozniacki has won the recent Australian Open, earlier this decade, she also became number one even without winning a Grand Slam yet. Anyway, her 2018 performance so far has catapulted her back to the top but then, she just has to show consistency that she deserves to be up there. And this makes a Halep v Wozniacki finale real interesting.

JELENA OSTAPENKO v ELINA SVITOLINA

The 20-year-old Ostapenko and the 23-year-old Svitolina are the future of women’s tennis. Hard-hitting Ostapenko is like the European version of a Serena Williams while the crafty not to mention the model-like features of Svitolina makes her something like the younger version of a Sharapova.

Ostapenko (L), Svitolina (R)

Svitolina is currently ranked number 4 while Ostapenko sits at number 5 which only shows their promise. Now if they could remain relatively free of major injuries throughout their careers then this would be a great rivalry to keep tabs on. As of now, Ostapenko is 2-0 against Svitolina but these were close matches — besides it’s still two matches between them.

SERENA WILLIAMS v MARIA SHARAPOVA

Now who would not want to see these old tigers face each other again? While Serena practically owns Sharapova, let’s not forget that it was against Serena that the then 17-year-old Sharapova won her first Grand Slam in 2004.

2004 Wimbledon: Sharapova (L), Williams (R)

So what actually happened to these two? Although both had their share of injuries, Serena was able to recover much better than Sharapova has had. See, Sharapova who used to have ‘powerful’ first and second serves early in her career was not really able to get back to that level after successive shoulder injuries even before the turn of the decade; and throughout her career she has had three notable ones. Finally, her 15-month suspension on the ‘sensationalized’ 2016 doping scandal caused her to miss a lot of time making it tougher for her to get back to form as evidenced by her stamina.

2017 Australian Open: Serena’s 23rd Grand Slam title

Meanwhile, Serena has remained that powerful tennis player — winning 23 Grand Slams, the most in the Open Era — despite some injuries along the way yet until she had to take a break from the game due to motherhood.

Incidentally, both players have won the French Open in alternating fashion. Sharapova in 2012 and 2014 while Serena in 2013 and 2015 — though she won her first of three back in 2002. Serena that is.

The avalanche of matches begin today at 5pm Singapore time.

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2018 FIVB Volleyball Women’s Nations League: Week 2 Update

Two weeks into the 2018 FIVB Volleyball Women’s Nations League, we find 5 teams tied at the top as far as win-loss records is concerned at 5-1 — with world number 11 Argentina as the only winless squad at 0-6.

Yet so far aside from the regular powers, three teams are worth watching.

VNL week 2 standings

South Korea. If you thought the Koreans just got lucky beating a Zhu Ting-less China, think again. In week 2, they rode their momentum as hosts and blanked world number 5 Russia (25-19, 25-14, 25-17) while beating 13th ranked Germany in four sets (23-25, 26-24, 25-16, 25-16).

Lee Jae-yeong (#17), heir to Kim Yeon-koung as Korea’s best spiker

Still, what kind of surprised us was their fall against world number 7 Italy where the Koreans lost in straight sets, 17-25, 21-25, 21-25. Part of this was obviously due to not fully using super spiker Lee Jae-yeong (#17) who has truly emerged as a great force but was used sparingly in favor of taller players for blocking purposes. Bad strategy that time and it showed in their loss to Italy (as the taller Koreans on the court were not as quick as the hustling Italians) when utilizing Lee Jae-yeong could have given them a ‘variation’ in offense and quickness in defense at the same time.

Thailand. Their record might be 2-4 but if you have really been watching their games, the Thais could have won a couple more of them like the ones against #5 Russia (week 1, fourth set was even decided at 30-28), #3 Serbia (lost 1-3 but reached 18+ in all lost sets, meaning they were competitive throughout the match) and against #1 China whom they could have even beaten in straight sets (23-25, 24-26, 25-22, 17-25) if only they had power spiker Ajcharaporn especially in the early, critical stages of the second set.

Thailand’s top spiker Ajcharaporn Kongyot (#18)

Key points for the Thais. Utilize Ajcharaporn (best spiker) and Nootsara (best setter) especially in critical moments, like when the opponent’s score hits 20, bring them back to court if they were resting. Malika has deteriorated as a spiker, just have her for floor defense, setting up or serving if ever.

While it’s good to have Onuma back, it’s quite noticeable that she can’t really jump anymore, so go to her as 3rd or 4th option instead behind Ajcharaporn, Pimpichaya and Chatchu-on. Meanwhile, Pleumjit still has it as a premier middle blocker, however, continue giving Hattaya more confidence as she would eventually replace Pleumjit when she slows down. It would have helped if Thatdao Nuekjang was around though especially in blocking since she’s tall and strong enough for international competitions.

Poland. Ranked 22nd in the world and in fact the lowest among those participating in this tournament, who would have thought that they could put up a good fight in just about every game they played? In week 1, the Polish may have lost 1-3 to #2 USA but look at the scores — 26-28, 22-25, 25-22, 15-25! Then they beat #7 Italy in 5 sets, 21-25, 25-14, 19-25, 25-17, 15-12 before going down against #12 Turkey 21-25, 17-25, 23-25.

In week 2, the Polish dismantled #1 China in a 5-set marathon then took #3 Serbia to four sets (25-20, 25-27, 24-26, 15-25) before finally losing out to Thailand in another grueling match with the decider ending at 14-16!

Looking closely, #22 Poland actually had a chance to win in all the games they have lost. Thanks to the hard-hitting 21-year-old spiker Malwina Smarzek (#17), they are certainly bound to rise in the rankings very soon.

Get ready for week 3! #enjoyvnl

2018 FIVB Volleyball Women’s Nations League now on Week 2

In case you are wondering what happened to indoor volleyball, well, one of the major tournaments for the year – 2018 FIVB Volleyball Women’s Nations League – has in fact already begun. May 15 to be exact.

So first leg down, now the second leg is just about to start…

VNL week 1 standings

Today. Yes, today. This tourney of the world’s best women’s teams would actually run for about a month and a half (until July 1) and that would be played in 21 venues where the final round would be in Nanjing, China.

Here are the schedules for the next three days.

NOTABLES: After the first leg, one of the more interesting results I should say was the match where world number 1 China got walloped by world number 10 Korea in three, yes, three straight sets — 15-25, 15-25, 13-25. Then again, while Korea’s star player Kim Yeon-koung was playing, her counterpart in Chinese superstar Zhu Ting was just not around.

Okay, let’s just #enjoyvnl on its second week for now!

2018 Italian Open: Maria Sharapova wills her way to the SF

They have never met before and what a match! Hard hitting, world number 5 Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia and Russian superstar Maria Sharapova took 3 hours and 10 minutes before completing their quarterfinal match with Sharapova prevailing in the end, 6-7 (6-8), 6-4, 7-5.

Ostapenko raced to an early 5-2 lead in the first set that saw Sharapova fighting back and taking the Latvian to a tiebreaker before losing 6-8.

While the whole match had its share of aces and winners, it was also filled with double faults — and unforced errors especially from Ostapenko.

World number 5 Jelena Ostapenko and her unforced errors

Key Points of the Match: While Ostapenko showed signs of cramping, it was not bad enough to hinder her physically — nor strain her will power. At any rate, while Ostapenko is a hard hitter, she still lacks control of her shots that it either goes out or the ball just can’t get over the net. Seems like she’s just always looking for winners — that is why those unforced errors to go along with her double faults. Still, with her solid backhand, she’s got a good future — all she needs to do now is to improve on her strategy, her control.

Sharapova: In-game meditation and focus

Sharapova, meanwhile, just showed the 20-year-old Jelena Ostapenko what control is all about. Yes, Sharapova could have taken the opening set and even finished off Ostapenko early in the third set as she led 5-2 but the Latvian just bounced back to tie it at 5-5 before Sharapova’s competitiveness helped her battle through fatigue. Wow, even the audience looked stressed! This was a great gauge of her stamina and certainly she passed it with flying colors.

Is the old Maria Sharapova back?

2018 Italian Open results

Up next is her semifinal match against the winner of the Simona Halep (world number 1) and Caroline Garcia (world number 7) quarterfinal match.

2018 Mutua Madrid Open: Sharapova’s run stopped by Bertens in the QF

Just watched the live quarterfinal match between one of tennis’ most popular players Maria Sharapova and world number 20 Kiki Bertens at the 2018 Mutua Madrid Open, and I tell you, it was just exhausting. I mean, you could actually feel the ‘drain’ in Sharapova catching up on her in the second set since she just played, what, 16 hours ago against Kristina Mladenovic?? Wow!

Nonetheless, pinpoint baseline shots got Maria Sharapova the first set at 6-4; however, fatigue then started to tell (along with some bad breaks) as she fell 0-3 at the start of the second set that ultimately cost her a 2-6 result.

With the third set underway and Sharapova just gasping, she again had to play catch up but defeat was just inevitable with the hole she just got into.

Sharapova showed promise despite the defeat

So obviously the bottom line here is not that Sharapova is regressing, but it’s her stamina. She’s already moving better but since it’s not even been a day from her third round match then onto her QF match — she just lost steam.

Can’t live on a consolation that at least it’s not a first round exit

But that’s just how it is, so she just has to start picking up somewhere.

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.

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