Monday, June 30

The eternal bridesmaid

They said three times a bridesmaid will never be married. For Michael Ballack, he has been second fiddle for four times now.

With Spain beating Germany in Euro 2008 finals, Ballack was again on the losing end. Four major finals, four silver medals. Will he ever win anything to amount to his massive talents and skills?

Ballack was on the losing side in the World Cup finals in 2002, while in the prestigious Champions League, his Bayer Leverkusen team was beaten by Real Madrid in the 2002 finals, and 6 years later, with a talented Chelsea team, they lost in the penalty shoot-outs to Manchester United. He was also a loser with Chelsea in the League Cup finals, and also second best in the Premier League title race this year.

And yesterday, the German captain lost another major finals, making him one of the biggest loser of his era. Turning 32 this year, he knows he hasn’t much left when it comes to lifting trophy, with the 2010 World Cup being his last chance of international glory. That is, if he stays healthy and fit for the tournament.

His effort for his country is beyond reasonable doubt. He has scored 35 goals in 87 appearances, a feat so impressive for a midfielder. Even the likes of England’s Gerrard and Lampard dwarfed compared to his statistics, but then again, England was nowhere to be seen in Euro 2008.

The finals itself was one sided. Germany started well, but once Spain’s midfielders started to take control under the leadership of man-of-the-tournament Xavi, Germany looked out of sorts and tired. Spain managed 13 shots on goal, with 7 on target. Germany only had 4, with only one reaching the hands of Iker Casillas.

Finally it looked like Germany’s luck has deserted them. They ride through the knockout stages thanks to individual efforts from certain players. In the quarterfinals, Ballack and Bastian Schweinsteiger were instrumental. The semifinals saw Germany shrank back to a team that made the most out of very little, with Turkey pushing them until the dying minutes of the game. And Jens Lehmann, well, what can be said about the German goalkeeper? He fluttered often enough, talking big everytime when a microphone is shoved up his face, yet delivering zero.

After 44 long years, Spain finally lifted their first silverware in the international scene. The finals was Fernando Torres moment of glory, when the striker, who scored 33 goals for Liverpool last season, finished superbly in the first half to secure a deserved victory over Germany. And with the bulk of their players in the 20s, they are destined for more greatness and glory.

Euro 2008 had a worthy winner in Spain. Spain was by far the best team, undefeated throughout the tournament. Gone were the pretenders in the likes of Portugal and Holland. No more upsets such as in 2004 when Greece defied the odds to lift the trophy.

The best team finally won the tournament.

Sunday, June 29

The grass is greener on the other side

A week into Wimbledon, and the seeds kept on tumbling.

Plenty of shocks were served in the early rounds of Wimbledon, causing destruction rarely witnessed so early at a grand slam tournament.

In the men’s draw, the biggest to fall first was Novak Djokovic. The third seed was sent packing by Marat Safin, who is unseeded in the tournament.. Djokovic came to Wimbledon full of confidence, and a mouth watering encounter with first seed Roger Federer in the semifinals is expected to be one of the highlights of the tournament. Instead, Safin stole the limelight and crushed Djokovic 6-4 7-6 6-2.

Sixth seeded Andy Roddick was next, beaten by Janko Tipsarevic 6-7 7-5 6-4 7-6. And for the first time since 1926, only one US male player, No. 102-ranked Bobby Reynolds reached the third round at Wimbledon. He lost his third round match against Feliciano Lopez.

Federer and Nadal are still around, keeping up the tradition of meeting in the finals. Nadal beat Federer in the French Open a few weeks ago, and Federer is looking to extend his winning streak on grass to 66 with the conclusion of the finals. Of course, winning the title will make him the first man in the open era to win six Wimbledon titles back to back.

In the women’s draw, the new world number one and first seed Ana Ivanovic was sent packing by unknown Zheng Ji 6-1 6-4, while third seed Maria Sharapova lost 6-2 6-4 to Alla Kudryavtseva. With the top seeds out, the Williams sisters are seen as the favourites to meet in the finals.

Out of the 16-seeded players in both draws, only six from the men side made it to the fourth round while eight from the women’s draw made it through. There are plenty more of actions coming up, with the No. 1 seed up against the 2002 champion Lleyton Hewitt in the fourth round while Nadal is up against No. 17th seed Mikhail Youzhny.

Tuesday, June 24

A change is gonna come

Things change. People change. The whole world changes. Nothing remains the same. Not for long.

The first episode of the new season was superb, as always. Some old faces left, and more new faces were introduced. Remember those new faces, because some of them will be sleeping with some of those old faces.

Enjoy the quotes!

Meredith: [narrating] In the practice of medicine, change is inevitable. New surgical techniques are created, procedures are updated, levels of expertise increase. Innovation is everything, nothing remains the same for long. We either adapt to change, or ... we get left behind.

Meredith: Have you seen Burke?
Cristina: No. Have you seen Derek?
Meredith: No.
Izzie: Wait, you haven't seen either of them since the wedding?
Meredith and Cristina: Nope.
Izzie: And you're all fine?
Meredith: Yep.
Cristina: Yep.
Izzie: Wow. You're either incredible healthy or completely messed up.

George: I don't respond to being called a number.

Derek: How is Meredith, anyway?
Cristina: Fine.
Derek: She's always fine. That's her problem.
Cristina: We're fine people. We do fine. We're fine.

Mark: I didn't come to Seattle for Addison, I didn't come to Seattle to be chief. I came to Seattle for you, okay? I came to Seattle to get you back... I know I wanna take that back, but now, it's been said..
Derek: Yeah... maybe we should have a drink.
Mark: We could?
Derek: Yeah.... Not today.

Izzie: Don't you see? I'm Bambi. I'm Bambi, George. If anyone in this situation is a sad little cartoon character, it's me. I'm all alone in the forest, all alone in the forest, George. And my mother's been shot by a hunter and where are you? Where the hell are you?
George: I'm on my way to surgery.

Meredith: I...uhm....
Derek: You're not ready for this.
Meredith: No.
Derek: I asked for too much.
Meredith: I think so.
Derek: So, this is it?
Meredith: Yeah.
Derek: We're breaking up?
Meredith: We're breaking up.

Derek: We're broken up.
Meredith: It's done.
[They start kissing]
Derek: Break-up kiss.
Meredith: Break-up kiss.
Derek: Lets have break-up sex.
Meredith: Yeah, lets have break-up sex.

Meredith: [narrating] Change; we don’t like it, we fear it, but we can't stop it from coming. We either adapt to change or we get left behind. And it hurts to grow, anybody who tells you it doesn’t is lying. But heres the truth: the more things change, the more they stay the same. And sometimes, oh, sometimes change is good. Oh, sometimes, change is ... everything.

(The nice song at the ending is called "To build a home" by Cinematic Orchestra)

Monday, June 23

Jinxed no more

Spain is in the semifinals of Euro 2008.

Now that, even though expected of the Spaniards, is quite a surprise. Spain has always entered a major competition as one of the favourites, given the abundance of talents in their team, but has only made it to the semifinals twice before, the first time in 1964 and they won that match over Hungary 2-1 in extra time, and 20 years later in 1984 when they defeated Denmark in the penalty shoot-out only to lose to France in the finals.

Apart from those two achievements, Spain has always faltered when the going gets tough, disappointing the whole of Spain until they do not put much hope whenever Spain is playing in the big tournaments. Until last night, of course.

The omens were not on their side for their quarterfinals match against Italy. Italy started their campaign on a weak note, trashed by Holland, drew with Romania and finally hitting the right note by beating France to qualify for the knockout stages. Suddenly Italy, the current world champion, seems the favourite to conquer the Spanish.

Spain had a perfect record in the group stages. Three wins out of three. Holland won all three games too, and they lost their quarterfinals match. Croatia won all three games too, and they lost their quarterfinals match too. Will Spain follow suits?

And their quarterfinals match was set on June 22, a date that marked doom for the Spanish team. On June 22 1986, Spain lost to Belgium in the World Cup quarterfinals. On June 22 1996, it was England that halted their run, again in the quarterfinals. And on June 22 2004, they were undone by the Koreans, also in the quarterfinals. And all losses were in the penalty shoot-out.

So when the match this morning went into shoot-out, it was like fate was not on Spain's side. It was like Italy was purposely playing for the draw so that the match would go into penalties, knowing that they had all the luck and signs to win it.

But they have forgotten one fact.

Spain has Iker Casillas.

Sunday, June 22

There's something about Gus

I just have a thought. If ever Malaysia wants to qualify for the World Cup, and reach the semifinals, all they need to do is hire Gus Hiddink as their coach.

It's a sure win plan.

Hiddink is a miracle. A master tactician. A superb coach. In World Cup 1998, he guided the Dutch team into the semifinals. In World Cup 2002, he guided South Korea to the semifinals. South Korea, a football team from Asia! Along the way, the Korean disposed the fancy Portuguese, Italians and Spanish. They were undone by Germany in the semis, but reaching the semis was a big achievement for them already. Gus Hiddink was a hero, and he will be welcomed and treated like the king anytime he wishes to move to Korea.

In World Cup 2006, he tried his hands at the Aussies, guiding them to the second round. They lost that match to Italy, who went all the way to win the Cup.

And now, in Euro 2008, he's at his best again with Russia. The Russians already disposed off the talented English team during the qualifying, outplaying the idiotic Steve McLaren and his dummies. McLaren has been out of job eversince, and recently, he has agreed to coach a Dutch team FC Twente. No team in England wanted him, for his crimes against the nation.

And earlier this morning, Russia beat the Netherlands 3-1 in extra time to advance to the semifinals. Another major semifinals for Hiddink. Another giant killer to add into his already impressive resume. Holland was one of the clear favourites to reach the finals of this tournament. The trashed Italy and France comprehensively and beat Romania using their second strings in the group stages. But as always have been the case, they peaked too early, and stumbled in the knock-out stages. Under-achiever, that will always be remembered of them. They have world class players from world class clubs, but yet again, their poor defence was their undoing.

If we can pay billions to put an idiot into space, I'm sure we can pay Hiddink the right amount of money to guide us into the World Cup. And I think having a Malaysian team in the World Cup is worth a thousand more than having a Malaysian in space. Anyone can be in space nowadays, with the right amount of money.

But to qualify for the World Cup, and do well in it, now that is indeed something huge.

Saturday, June 21

Luck of the Turks

Move aside Irish people, you are no longer lucky!

Who needs four-leaf clovers, or leprechaun, or the colour green. All you need is a bunch of football players from Turkey, and you can ride your luck all the way to the finals.

There is no such thing as luck of the Irish. in 2002, Republic of Ireland made it as far as the second round in the World Cup. They lost that game to Spain in the penalty shoot-out. So much for luck in that game.

Fast-forward to 2008, another Championship: Euro 2008. There is no Republic of Ireland. But there are the resilient Turks.

Turkey was drawn into Group A with host Switzerland, Portugal and Czech Republic. They lost their first game 2-0 against Portugal. In their second game against the Swiss, they won 2-1 thanks to a last minute goal that sealed the victory. But the best was the final game of the group against Czech Republic. The Czechs looked home and dry with a 2-0 lead, but if they think they were cruising into the quarterfinals from there, they were wrong. The Turks scored 3 goals in the last 15 minutes, with 2 goals coming in the last 3 minutes of the game. They had plenty of help from Petr Cech, the so-called best goalkeeper in the world, whom ghastly error gifted the Turks the equaliser. A comeback completed. A date with Croatia set.

The game against Croatia ended goalless after full time. Both sides had good chances to clinch it, but neither managed to score the elusive goal. Croatia had the better of the chances, squandering chance after chance, with the aid of the Turk in-form goalkeeper, Recber Rustu. Extra time beckoned, and just as the game looked set to move into penalty shoot-out, Ivan Klasnic scored what could have been the winning goal with less than a minute left on the clock when Rustu did a kamikaze and flapped at his own goal. It was over, Croatia is going to the semifinals.

Not only the commentator was bamboozled, everyone else watching the game thought it was over too. Not for the Turks though. They had one last trick up their socks, and with practically the last kick of the match, Semih Senturk crashed home the equaliser in stoppage time. The referee blew the whistle. The game was going into penalty shoot-out.

Croatia up first. Wide. Turkey scored. 1-0.

Both teams scored. 1-2.

Another wide attempt from the Croats. Turkey had no such problem. 1-3.

Mladen Petric needed to score from the spot. Rustu was up to it, and saved. Turkey won.

The Czechs and the Croats might blame it on their bad luck, but Turkey is riding their good luck to set a date with the Germans in five days time. In World Cup 2002, Turkey made it as far as the semifinals where they were thwarted by Brazil. Beating Germany might be a tall order for the Turks, but with the luck that they are having at the moment, anything is possible.

If Greece can defy the odds and won Euro 2004, there is no reason that Turkey can't do the same.

Friday, June 20

A fresh season

It has been a long wait, a very long wait. But finally the wait is coming to an end.

Come tomorrow, Season 4 of Grey's Anatomy is debuting on our local screen. Well, that's what the snippets on TV are saying. Saturday - 9.45pm. I might be wrong, since a check through the website yields nothing. It's either they have not updated it yet, or they simply don't care. A tad frustrating, if I must say.

Let's recap what happened in last season's finale. Preston and Christina were getting married, when Burke got jilted and he took it as a sign to leave everything behind. Yes, there will be no more Burke in Season 4.

Meredith and Derek were on the verge of a break-up. Something about Derek meeting a new girl at the bar (which turns out to be Meredith's little sister!). More on that in the show.

George and Izzie were having an affair. Well, Izzie is in love with George, but George is married to Callie. Does George has feelings for Izzie too?

Not to forget, George failed his exam. Will he repeat the whole thing and be an intern again, or is he moving to a new hospital to cool things off with Izzie and gain his wife's trust back?

The race for chief is getting hot, with Addison being told that she is out of the race, hence her departure from the hospital for good. But despair not, for you will see her an hour after the show, in her own show - Private Practice. More on that later.

Derek was offered the post, but he declined. Does that mean the Chief will still be around? Isn't he supposed to quit and be with his wife? Or could Mark be the new chief?

Mark was hoping that Addison would want to be with him, but alas! Addison if off on her new adventure and Mark is left picking up the pieces (and the other nurses).

Alex, well, Alex missed out on the girl that could have been the one. After rejecting Addison, he rejected Rebecca Pope (a patient) and now he has no one. Poor Alex.

I can't wait to watch the first episode of the new season. There will be new faces on the show, new romances, new twists, and new dramas. So if you don't have a reason to stay home on Saturday nights, now you do!

Grey's Anatomy airs every Saturday on NTV7 at 9.45pm.
Private Practice airs every Saturday on NTV7 at 10.45pm.

Two hours of ecstasy!

Thursday, June 19

G for glory

Things were looking great. You had a good date, a good romantic dinner, and as you drive your date home, you asked her if she would like to stop by your place for a cup of coffee, or tea, depending on her preference.

She said yes.

Thank God you had the place cleaned up this morning (mental note: thank mum later for dropping by and tidying up your mess). Mum even probably changed the bedsheet. Nothing beats a newly-washed fresh bedsheet.

Let's skip the coffee (or tea) and the small talk.

She's in your bedroom now, admiring your stuffed toys collection (okay, maybe that's a bit too much, but hey, it's a good way to get a girl into your bedroom. Read: "Want to check out my Pokemons and Barneys?").

You excused yourself to the bathroom, hastily and quietly flossed, brushed your teeth and rinsed your mouth with Oral B mouth-rinse. All in 3 minutes. You got out and see your date getting comfortable on your bed among the purple Barney and the big fuzzy teddy bear. This is it, you thought. It's showtime.

So you joined her in bed, talked a bit, get her into the mood, then kissed her. She responded, and you got into business. After what seemed like an eternity of exchanging saliva and tongue wrestling, your hands slowly and carefully crept in between her legs. You rubbed her panties gently, feeling the tinge of roughness (mental note: she shaved a few days ago) and letting your fingers wander at ease.

Let's skip the foreplay (What! No details! What a rip-off!) and fast-forward to 20 minutes later.

She's naked now. You're naked too. You're on top of her. It feels right. She's wet enough, you're as horny as ever. Her slow moaning is driving you crazy (mental note: this is my lucky night!).

You start off slowly, then it gets faster. She's moaning louder now, and she's telling you to go faster. You push as hard as you can, and you can feel it being over soon, so you slowed down a bit, bidding your time. But she tells you don't stop, go faster, so you blank your mind with more mental notes (mental note: keep her panties as souvenir).

Then it was over. It was good; no, it was great for you, that's for sure. Your best sex ever (mental note: it's only my third score). As you lie on your back watching the ceiling, and counting your blessings, she climbed on top of you, ready for the next round.

The next round? But you just shot off everything you got. There's nothing left, only a limp purple Barney on the floor. And she's hungry for more. Claimed that you didn't hit her G-spot. Said she hasn't had orgasm yet.

But you're not in the mood anymore. Your Barney is not responding; it has packed it's balls and left for the night. You're practically ball-less for the night.

Obviously, she was disappointed. You wished you has last longer like that man you saw on TV the other night. You wished you had bought a yellow Barney instead of the purple one. You wished that women can reach orgasm as fast as men can.

Well, if your have £800, you can get your girl to do a G-shot, then maybe, sex won't be one-sided anymore.

Any takers?

Wednesday, June 18

Celtics 4 Lakers 2

Game over.

No one could have predicted the final score. It was one of the most lopsided score in NBA finals history.


Boston’s 39-point win surpassed the NBA record for the biggest margin of victory in a championship clincher; the Celtics beat the Lakers 129-96 in Game 5 of the 1965 NBA finals.

The Celtics shot 49% from the field, shooting 43-for-87 compared to the Lakers 42% out of 27-for-64 shooting. Ray Allen was hot from the arc, shooting an NBA record-tying 7-for-9 from the three-point line and scoring 26 points. Kevin Garnett had 26 points while Paul Pierce, the finals MVP, had 17 points. Rajon Rondo had 21 points, eight assists, seven rebounds and six steals for the Celtics.

Bryant, the regular season MVP, finished with 22 points on 7-for-22 shooting. Not much help from his teammates this time, with Odom only managing 14 points while Gasol only with 11 points. The Lakers came out from the locker room for the second half trailing by 23 points, and by the 4th quarter, they were resigned to the fact that it was over by then.

It was a different story for Boston Celtics. A year after winning just 24 games, then drawing bad luck in the draft lottery, the Celtics completed the most dramatic turnaround in NBA history with a Game 6 blowout that was equally impressive. It was also the 17th title for the league’s most-decorated franchise.

A good ending for a good season.

My hope for next season: to see the Rockets win in the first round of the playoffs.

Sunday, June 15

Celtics 3 Lakers 2

The Lakers are still alive.

Facing elimination, they managed to dig deep and prevent Boston from celebrating on their own turf, forcing Game 6 and bringing the game back to Boston.

Kobe Bryant lead the home team with 25 points, and he had plenty of help from his teammates. Four other Lakers were in double figures, with Lamar Odom coming alive with 20 points from 8-for-10 shooting while Pau Gasol had 19 points and 13 rebounds.

No team has overcome a 3-1 deficit in the finals to win a title. The first 28 failed, and now the Lakers, who blew a 24-point lead and lost Game 4 and nearly squandered a 19-point lead in Game 5, have a chance to do something extraordinary.

Paul Pierce had a massive game, with 38 points, 6 rebounds and 8 assists. He kept the game close for his team, with a pair of free throws to cut the Lakers lead by two with less than two minutes to go. But with less than a minute left on the clock, Bryant poke the ball out of Pierce's hand and finished the play with a dunk to put the Lakers up by four.

With the score now at 100-95, Bryant missed one of two free throws with 16 seconds left, and Eddie House nailed a three-pointer to make it 101-98 with 14 seconds left. Fisher then made two free throws and stole Boston’s last pass to ensure that there will be another game in the series.

Game 6 will be in Boston on Wednesday.

Friday, June 13

Celtics 3 Lakers 1

A hole is a hole, doesn't matter how deep it is.

Unless of course, it's a hole that you dig yourself.

The Lakers put themselves into a deep hole when leading as many as 24 points, they let Paul Pierce and his merry men cut the lead, and in the end, did a comeback that would embedded into playoffs history. Celtics beat Lakers 97-91, and the Lakers now trail Boston Celtics 3-1, and no team has ever dug its way out of such a hole in the Finals.

Lamar Odom, who struggled in the first three games of the finals, came alive in this one with 19 points, 10 rebounds and four assists. But he did most of his damage in the first half, and when the going gets tough, he disappeared down the stretch. Nobody was willing to shoulder the burden, and it was up to Kobe Bryant to keep the team alive.

Bryant however shot 6-for-19 from the field and scored 10 of his 17 points in the fourth quarter. The other Los Angeles starters all reached double figures, but their contributions were minimal down the stretch. Bryant shot 4-of-8 and his teammates went 4-of-13 for eight points in the final period. That was when the game was lost.

And now Boston Celtics is just one win from another NBA title.

Pierce scored 20 points, Garnett had 16 points and 11 rebounds and Ray Allen had 19 points. The trio had plenty of help from the bench in the fourth quarter, first from Eddie House who hit a jumper to put Boston up by one late in the fourth, and later on James Posey hit a dagger right into the Lakers' heart with a 3-pointer with less than 2 minutes left.

Game 5 will be in Staples Center this Monday.

Wednesday, June 11

Celtics 2 Lakers 1

The Lakers were rescued by the sharp-shooting of Sasha Vujacic.

Vujacic turned saviour when the rest of the Lakers starters (not including Kobe) combined for only 22 points, making just a pitiful 7 of their 28 shots. Vujacic came of the bench to shoot 7-for-10, including 3-for-5 from the 3-point range. 

Kobe Bryant, as usual, led the team with 36 points, but apart from these two players, there rest of the Lakers didn’t help much. Lamar Odom continued his woeful shooting throughout the series with a disappointing game and only 4 points and 5 turnovers, while Pau Gasol was nowhere near his best.

Boston didn’t fare well too, with Paul Pierce scoring only 6 points from 2-for-14 shooting while Kevin Garnet scored 13 points from 6-for-21 shooting. Ray Allen was the only hot shooter for Boston, and his 25 points managed to keep the game close for the Celtics. The final score was 87-81, and they made everyone at the Staples Center fidgeting in their seats until the final horn sounded. 

They had a reason to be so. No team in NBA playoff history has ever overcome a 0-3 deficit. And the Lakers made sure that they do not have to be the first one to do so.

Game 4 will be at the Staples Center this Friday.

Tuesday, June 10

Double Mac Me

What is better and bigger than a Big Mac?

They claimed it's the Mega Mac. 

Personally, I think it might be bigger, but it's definitely not better. A Big Mac value meal costs RM9.90 and if you add another RM4, then you get yourself a Mega Mac. 

Eating this would be a little tricky.

You might as well get a Big Mac, and a Fillet-O-Fish for the same amount (Fillet-O-Fish is only RM4). This way, you get two burgers for the same price.

Unless of course, you prefer Carl's Junior, and you don't mind paying more for a bigger and tastier burger.  

Monday, June 9

Celtics 2 Lakers 0

Boston Celtics is two games away from being crowned as the new champion. While the Los Angeles Lakers need to dig deep to keep the series alive.

Trailing Boston by 24 points with less than 8 minutes left, the Lakers got within two before losing 102-108. They finally decided to play some ball late in the fourth quarter, however, it was a little too late as they ended up being on the losing end. 

Only three teams - Boston in 1969, Portland in 1977 and Miami in 2006 - have overcame a 0-2 deficit to win the title. The question now will be, can Kobe Bryant lead the Lakers to be the fourth team to do so?

Celtics got plenty of help from the bench in game two. Leon Powe, a second year reserve had the game of his career, scoring 21 points in 15 minutes while Posey and Brown added 8 and 6 points respectively. The Lakers bench? Well, they managed 23 points among themselves, two more than what Powe alone had.

As usual, Boston big three carried the team with a total of 62 points while Lakers big three (Kobe, Gasol and Odom) had 57 points. Boston also went to the line 38 times compared to the Lakers 10. The big difference managed to unsettle Phil Jackson, but he short stop of accusing the officials of being one-sided. 

Game 3 will be in Los Angeles on Wednesday.

Sunday, June 8

Ana and her legs

Simply superb, don't you think? 

All Hail the new Queen

It was a sad day when Justine Henin announced her retirement from tennis at the age of 25 with immediate effect last month. She retired while being on top, an abrupt ending to a career in which she won seven Grand Slam singles titles and spent more than 100 weeks ranked No. 1.

In addition to her four French Open titles, Henin won the Australian Open in 2004, and the U.S. Open in 2003 and 2007. She has been ranked No. 1 since Nov. 13, 2006, except for a seven-week period last year when Sharapova held the top spot, and won nearly $20 million in career prize money.

Last year, she trashed Ana Ivanovic 6-1 6-2 to retain the French Open title she won for the past two years. She also won the US Open last year by beating Svetlana Kuznetsova in straight set.

With her shocked retirement, the No. 1 spot was up for grabs, and the French Open was the decider for these playes: Sharapova, Kuznetsova, Jankovic and Ivanovic. But Sharapova packed her bags early on, while Ivanovic beat Jankovic and Kuznetsova lost to Safina. That leaves Ivanovic as the sole survivor, and she reached the final for the second consecutive year.

With this being her third Grand Slam final, she was more prepared than her two previous finals, where she lost to Henin and Sharapova (US Open). Her opponent this time was Dinara Safina, a surprise finalist after despatching Kuznetsova, Dementieva and Sharapova along the way. But there would not be a choke this time, as a precised and composed Ivanovic wrapped up the game in style in straight set, 6-4 6-3.

Her first Grand Slam title to accompany her at the top of the women's ranking.

Isn't she adorable?

Saturday, June 7

Another Federer vs Nadal final

Don't put your money on Roger Federer.

The Swiss, who has won 12 grand-slam titles but has never triumphed at Roland Garros, has been beaten by the Spaniard in the final for the past two years.

Nadal is 10-6 against Federer - including 8-1 on clay, and 3-0 at the French Open - making him the only active player to have faced the Swiss star more than four times and compiled a winning record against him.

For each of the past four years, Federer has come to Paris knowing that he needed a French Open title to complete a career Grand Slam, something only five men have accomplished: Andre Agassi, Don Budge, Roy Emerson, Rod Laver and Fred Perry.

In 2005, that pursuit ended in the semifinals against Nadal. He was beaten 6-3 4-6 6-4 6-3. In 2006, he made it to the final just to lose to Nadal 1-6 6-1 6-4 7-6 while in 2007, it was the same story when he lost 6-3 4-6 6-3 6-4. And in 2008, he has another shot at it. But this time, he will be facing a stronger and improved Nadal.

Nadal is on fire. He’s 27-0 for his career at the French Open, winning 81 of 88 sets. He’s dropped zero sets through six matches this year, and only 36 games, the third-fewest lost by a man en route to a Grand Slam final in the 40-year Open era (the only lower totals were both accomplished by Borg at the French Open).

He’s won 114 of his last 116 matches on clay. He’s 40-0 in best-of-five-set matches on the surface and was pushed to five sets only twice in that span. He’s 21-1 in clay-court finals. And that one lost was to Federer, in 2007 Hamburg Masters, 2-6 6-2 6-0.

Impressive stats, isn't it?

But is he invincible?

Looking at the way he's been playing at the moment, I would say yes. Federer will need plenty of luck, and some sort of a miracle, to claim his first French Open title.

Friday, June 6

Celtics 1 Lakers 0

The Finals have began. And Boston Celtics drew first blood.

Celtics closed out the Lakers 98-88 in Game One of the Finals. Eventhough they finished with the league best record with 66 wins, they are the underdog in this series. Their performance getting to the Finals raised a lot of questions about their credibility. They needed 7 games to shut down the Hawks and the Cavaliers, and were lucky to get past the Pistons in 6 games.

Lakers meanwhile, swept the Nuggets, closed out the Jazz on the road and trashed the defending champion Spurs comprehensively. They have the league MVP in Kobe Bryant, and a very young team.

Bryant didn't have a good game though. He was 9-26 from the field and only scored 24 points. During the regular season, he also had a tough time against the Celtics, shooting 15-for-46 and averaging 25 points. Boston won both games. Could it be finally the Celtics are showing their defensive mettle, with Kevin Garnett, the league defensive player of the year leading the way?

But Bryant didn't get much help from his teammates. The Lakers wound up shooting 41.6 percent - far below their postseason field goal percentage of 47.8 percent. And they were outrebounded 46-33.

There was drama during the game, when Boston's captain Paul Pierce shook off a sprained knee and scored 22 points. He was carried off from the court midway through the third quarter when he was bumped from behind by his teammate accidentally, that left him sprawling on the court and unable to get up. But he returned soon after, and drained two consecutive 3-pointer that put Boston up by 4 points at the end of the third quarter. They never trailed after that.

The Lakers aren’t in trouble just yet. Losing the opening game of the Finals doesn’t spell instant doom. The Lakers still have Bryant, and he doesn’t typically follow a poor-shooting game with another.

Game 2 is on Sunday, and looking at the way it is, it's going to be another cracker.

Thursday, June 5

Interlude (7)

Two weeks.

Two long weeks.

That is how long he will be away from her. That is how long he will miss her smell and touch. That is how long he will miss her warmth and kisses.

Which is unbearable, so to speak. He knows the nights well, for he has spent most of his time alone with his thoughts. He knows the lonely shadow who constantly hovers around the room, moving with the speed of the ceiling fan above him. It is the comfort of years being spent in his room, with his own mind and shadow.

Yes, he might be content with all that, but deep inside, he knows one undeniable truth.

He misses her.

More than he can imagine.

Wednesday, June 4

Up, up and away

It was such a depressing day.

It started with the heavy downpour late in the evening. The skies were so dark that it might as well be midnight. It was like the rain came down with a vengeance, pelting everything in its path with such malice that the only reasonable thing to do is to stay indoors.

Then, the news came. Oil price will be up by 40% come midnight, and suddenly, there was pandemonium everywhere. People seemed to be rushing out to fill up their vehicles, paying the last RM1.92 per litre one more time before it is no more.

For come midnight, the new price will be RM2.70 per litre. Which is still, as the Prime Minister repeated for the hundredth times, the cheapest in the region. It must be a decision that he dreaded making, because as of now, he must be the most hated man in the country. Not that it was entirely his fault, but then again, there are bulls-eye marks all over his body. And I wouldn’t be surprised if the membership of his hate-group balloons overnight due to the announcement.

Cheapest in the region. Yes, our fuel price might be of that, but that is not a good reason to justify the big hike. Over and over again, everytime when there was a hike, the same reasons have been used. We are lucky to have a government kind enough to be subsidising some part of the fuel, hence the cheapest in the region tag.

But what’s in everybody’s mind is this, how long can this go on? With the price of crude oil in the international market rising each day, it is inevitable that fuel price everywhere starts to increase. There is nothing much that we can do, as we let the fate of the matters in the hands of speculators and oil barons.

Can we find an alternative to fuel? In this country, driving is a necessity because we don’t have a comprehensive public transportation system. Taking the buses might be a cheaper alternative, but it’s so time consuming that you ended up weighing which is better, to waste your time or your money. The LRTs and trains are better, but at times they are so packed that it's such a hassle just to get into one.

But what we fear most is the chain reaction of the price hike. With fuel playing a big part in almost everything, prices of goods and services will surely go up. The government can assure the people about controlling this and that, and giving the best to the people, but how many times have we seen this method failed miserably. It's the same with the empty promises made during the election, they were just empty.

On another note, it was ironic how cars were queuing up at petrol pumps for hours just to fuel up. Don't you think that letting the car idle for such a long time doesn't burn fuel? There were even fights when some cars were spotted cutting queue. But the worst of the lot is the petrol pumps which put up sign "out of petrol" just so that they can make a bigger profit the next day.

It's still too early to see the impact on the fuel hike. The shock might stay for a week, or even a month. But life has to go on, and adjustments must be make. Maybe public transport doesn't seem that bad after a while.

Or maybe an investment on a bicycle might be good in the long run.

Tuesday, June 3

Out of nothing

Suddenly time stands still.

It is raining outside. The drizzle breaks the silence of the night, and the darkness is broken by the occasional flashes of lightning. Apart from mother nature making her presence felt, it is completely serene. The night breeze is cooling, and somehow it feels that the second hand on my alarm clock is moving so slowly, that it might as well stop moving.

It has been a slow night. The fact that I have skipped dinner does not help at all. I am suddenly craving for something meaty, like a piece of a medium-rare steak or a nice leg of lamb. Maybe a nice fat hamburger might end this hunger, but the thought of braving the cold night in this light drizzle turns me off completely.

At least I know I'd rather be hungry than moving.

But it's not helping at all.

It's easier to keep my mind occupied to chase away the hunger, but there are always flashes of food when I blink my eyes. And the growling in my stomach reminds me of my predicament. A quick look around the room reveals a pack of biscuit under the bookshelves at the corner of the room, but it looks so dry and unappetizing.

Sleep will cure this madness. Sleep will bring me the piece of steak I desire most. Sleep will bring me that leg of lamb with a side of mint sauce and baked potatoes.

Sleep is what I need then, and not food.