Monday, July 06, 2009

Not-So-Obscure Sports Quarterly:: Federer Wins & Armstrong Contre Contador?

Wimbledon-2009 Mens' Final
Yesterday, Roger Federer {SUI} won a grueling match against the A-Rod of tennis, Andy Roddick {US}. While I'm not a huge fan of Roddick, often injury plagued and with a smart mouth snapping at umpires with lines like, "You're an idiot! Stay in school kids or you'll end up being an umpire," he was playing some extraordinary tennis at Wimbledon this year. Federer, who lost a heartbreaking, rain-delayed 4 hour 48 minute match against Nadal last year, was in another grueling marathon this year that went 4 hours and 16 minutes. Wimbledon, which doesn't have 5th. set tiebreaks, won 5-7, 7-6, 7-6, 3-6, 16-14, beating the Pete Sampras record of 15 grand slam mens' singles victories. Here's the last few moments of the 5th. set, luckily without the inane McEnroe/NBC commentary::

The Wimbledon crowd was cheering for the 6th. seeded Roddick during the match and while he was slumped in his chair after the match, the crowd chanted crowd chanted, "Roddick, Roddick, Roddick," until he rose to acknowledge them. I'm not a Roddick fan, but I felt for the guy. While historical, the match wasn't that exciting to watch, but much better than the womens' final with Serena defeating Venus Williams. I might see a Rogers Cup match here in Toronto, with the womens' tournament being here and the mens' in Montréal, which alternates every year. Last year Safina and Nadal were the champions.

Tour de France:: Stage Three {Spoiler Alert}
The drama on Team Astana is getting interesting, as it has 4 riders in the top 10, including Lance Armstrong {#3, +00:40}, Alberto Contador {#4, +00:59}, Andreas Kloden {#6, +01:03}, and Levi Leipheimer {#10, +01:11}. WaPo on Sunday said the leadership of the team was still uncertain, but today Lance took strategic advantage of a peloton split due to heavy crosswinds, with 20kM to go, to leapfrog 7 spots from #10 to #3.

Mark Cavendish {GBR} won the stage and Fabian Cancellara (SUI) retains the maillot jaune with 9:50:58.

While some argue about the egos and politics on the team, there are other problems with the team management. Team Astana is not financed by a company, but by a country. The country in question is Kazakhstan. The president of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, is flexing his muscles, wanting to see Alexandre Vinokourov return next year after a 2-year ban for an illegal blood transfusion.
"However, Astana team manager and longtime Armstrong ally Johan Bruyneel, has publicly stated that Vinokourov would not be welcomed back as he won’t complete a ban being served as punishment for an illegal blood transfusion until July 24...Nazarbayev at first liked the idea of having cycling’s biggest name, Armstrong, on his team for 2009. But Bruyneel’s public reluctance to have Vinokourov back next year and doubts over whether Armstrong will happily play the team game for Contador appear to have given the politician second thoughts...There have already been internal problems which led Armstrong and Bruyneel to consider setting up their own team after payments promised by Astana hierarchy were not made for the Giro d’Italia race."
While not always a favorite in France, crowds might be warming up to Armstrong and his return is seen by many as good for the troubled sport in the wake of doping scandals. Viva Astana!, AKA Kazakhstan::

Hat tip:: LinnyQat
Twitterversion:: Not-So-Obscure Sports Quarterly:: Wimbledon Finals & Tour de France Drama on Team {Kazak}Astana. @Prof_K

Song:: Paris Be Mine - The Bicycles {Toronto, ON}

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