Posts Tagged ‘ball’

Argentina 0, Germany 4: It All Gets A Bit Lionel, Messi That Is, For Maradona

July 3rd, 2010

What a difference three days can make in football.

Just last week, pundits and fans around the world were bemoaning the showing of the European sides in South Africa.

All South American teams had emerged from their group with Brazil and Argentina emerging as many people's favourites.

Both have gone home!

In a couples of hours, Uruguay could well be the only South Americans left in the competition, if, as expected, Spain see off the challenge of Paraguay tonight. In the irony of all ironies, that would mean there will be three European sides left in the final four.

Who would bet against an all-European Final?

Before the World Cup, many wrote off the Germans. How foolish! You never, ever write-off the Germans.

They came without Michael Ballack and Torsten Frings. No matter if they lose in the semifinal, they will leave a better team.

They scored four against Australia. They scored four against England. Today, they scored four against Argentina.

Germany opened their account just three minutes in.

Bastian Schweinsteiger swung in a free-kick, which Thomas Mueller glanced past Romero who was in no-man's land in the Argentinian goal. 

Germany were in control for the next 20 minutes, but then retreated slightly, giving Argentina the impetus. However, for all the huffing and puffing, Argentina created nothing of note.

The second half started as the first half ended. Again, Argentina had most of the ball but failed to create opportunities to really test Neuer in the German goal.

They paid for their lack of penetration in the 67th minute.

Instead of staying on the ground and waiting for a free-kick, Mueller flicked the ball to Podolski who threaded the perfect ball in for Klose to tap home.

The true test of any team is how they react to being behind. The Argentinians collapsed.

The excellent Bastian Schweinsteiger jinked past some half-hearted tackles and slotted the ball to defender Arne Friedrich who tapped home for his first international goal.

The icing on the cake came minutes from the end, when Klose volleyed home an Ozil cross.

Game, set, match. Goodnight Argentina.

While Klose now has 14 goals in World Cup competition, Lionel Messi left without one to his name.

All the star names promoted for the tournament have left: Kaka, Ronaldo, Rooney, and now Messi.

Meanwhile, some new stars have emerged in the German camp.

Bastian Schweinsteiger is surely player of the tournament to date, while Phillip Lahm played a captain's role today.

Thomas Mueller and Miroslav Klose were massive for Germany up front today.

Joachim Loew's exciting young team are now just 90 minutes from a World Cup Final. Meanwhile, it's all getting a bit Lionel, Messi that is, for Maradona.

World Cup 2010:Uruguay’s Luis Suarez Highlights FIFA’s Growing Hypocrisy

July 3rd, 2010

In the blink of an eye and flash of an arm, Uruguay's Luis Suarez became a hero in his homeland but a villain worldwide.

In the dying seconds of last night's dramatic quarter-final between Uruguay and Ghana, the Ajax hotshot denied Dominic Adiyiah a certain goal as he batted away the ball with his hand.

Suarez saw red and a penalty was awarded to Ghana. Asamoah Gyan, who had previously scored two penalties in the tournament, duly stepped up and blasted the ball off the crossbar and over in what was the final kick of the game.

Uruguay persevered in the resulting penalty shoot-out to set up a semi-final encounter with Holland.

Over the last number of hours, Suarez has been condemned for his actions.

He has been blamed for putting "Africa" out of the World Cup. His reaction to Gyan's penalty miss did little to endear him to those who had jumped on the Ghanaian bandwagon.

But is Suarez really a villain, and did he really put "Africa" out of the World Cup?

To answer the latter question, it is an obvious "NO." Africa put Africa out of the World Cup.

Once again, many of the African countries entered the tournament having replaced their managers just months prior to the World Cup. This chopping and changing hasn't worked for them before, and why they still continue doing it is rather curious to say the least.

The Ivory Coast went out at the group stage in a whimper, with only a victory over North Korea to show for their limp efforts.

Nigeria were so bad, even their president can't stand the thought of watching them again any time soon.

South Africa never had high expectations coming into the tournament, and it was no surprise to see them becoming the first hosts to exit in the first round.

Algeria and Cameroon weren't up to standard either, despite their best efforts, so it was left to Ghana to carry a continent.

And this reflected in the match build-up. It was billed as Uruguay vs. Africa, with Ghana aiming to become the first African side to reach the semifinals of the World Cup.

Without Suarez's intervention, they surely would have done so. However, it wasn't Suarez who knocked Ghana out. It was Gyan's lack of nerves that knocked them out.

It is harsh on the young man, but maybe if he felt like he was only carrying the weight of Ghana on his shoulders and not that of the whole of Africa, he might have held his nerve?

Either way, his courage in stepping up during the shoot-out must be applauded. 

Did Suarez cheat? Yes. Was he punished? Yes. 

Yet, today FIFA are debating whether he should be banned for the final, should Uruguay overcome Holland.

Is this fair? Hardly.

Speaking on RTÉ last night, former Rep.Ireland adviser Liam Brady argued that Suarez had acted out of desperation. Brady argued that Suarez knew if he let the ball pass him, that it was curtains for his country.

Suarez still took a risk because the balance is always in favour of the penalty-taker. However, he had reduced Uruguay's certain exit to a probable exit. In the end, his gamble paid off.

The difference between what Suarez did and that infamous handball by Thierry Henry, was that Suarez got punished, Henry never did.

Yes, Henry's name has been dragged through the mud, but only by fans and the media. NEVER by the powers that be in football, and therein lies the hypocrisy.

Why do FIFA feel the need to stand behind Henry but seek to punish Suarez further?

It really is as simple as internal politics.

No one can but agree that FIFA and UEFA wanted France at the World Cup. They changed the rules to seed the European play-offs so UEFA President Michel Platini's homeland had an increased chance of making the finals.

Following Henry's handball, Blatter and Platini spent more time laughing at the Irish than they did at looking at the prospect of goal-line technology.

How foolish they look now following Frank Lampard's "goal" against Germany, and Carlos Tevez' offside opener against Mexico.

Although, Sepp Blatter did apologize to both England and Mexico for the inept performance of the officials and duly sent both referees home.

Is it strange then that the FAI are still awaiting an official apology and that the referee in charge that night got rewarded with a World Cup spot?

Makes one wonder....

Now, Suarez is facing the brunt of an angry continent.

Of course Ghana can feel aggrieved. Their definite victory was turned into a probable one and one they failed to take advantage of by missing the penalty.

Let's face it, if Gyan had tucked that away, not one person would be talking about Suarez today.

But we are talking about Suarez today and knowing the hypocrisy of FIFA, he will receive an additional ban to make sure he misses the final.

Why? Not because he deserves it, but because he knocked out "Africa." This is nothing more than FIFA looking for excuses and favour. Sadly, they always seem to find them.

There is shirt-pulling, diving, and handballs in virtually every game.

The strange thing is, had Suarez tripped a player in the box to stop him scoring as opposed to blocked the shot with his hand, people wouldn't have blinked an eyelid. 

What is the difference? Is the outcome not the same? Red card? Penalty?

These questions need to be asked and answered.

The question must be also be asked as to why FIFA tried to brush Henry's handball under the carpet but have gone and fed Suarez to the wolves?

People wonder why there is still cheating in the World game, and indeed so much of it. You only need to look at the inept people in charge to find your answer.

Argentina V Germany World Cup 2010 Live Blog: Results, Scores & Analysis

July 3rd, 2010

If your a die-hard football supporter, or even just a casual fan, the thoughts of Germany versus Argentina is enough to get the pulse racing.

After the great drama and excitement that unfolded during both of yesterday's games, hopes are high for a repeat of that suspense, along with great action.

Germany are one of the most organised teams in the tournament, with a sprinkle of youth that has really turned Germany into a tasty dish to watch.

Argentina need no flattering when it comes to describing their style of attacking football, it is a brand within itself.

This one is going to be a fantastic encounter, without doubt.


Full-time Synopsis: The game lived up to the hype. I don't think anyone could have predicted the score-line.

Germany were a different class. They outperformed Argentina, and they worked harder without possession than Argentina did.

The main attractions for Argentina did not turn up today. Messi, Higuain and Tevez were all on the fringe of the game. While Germany's stars put on a show. Muller, Klose, Podolski, Ozil and 'Steiger all played on a different level.

I can not see a team that will be able to breakdown the Germany wall at the back, while preventing them going forward.

90: The game is over and Maradona looked a broken man.

Germany played great football, and defended with their lives when they needed to.

88: They put four past England, and they just got their fourth against Argentina.

Klose got his second and Argentina have been embarrassed.

Poldoski feed the ball to Ozil, who sent an inch perfect cross than Klose easily put past Romero.

86: Argentina just have not been able to cope with Germany's energy and work rate. Messi and Higuain for the most part have been out of the game. Tevez tried his best but was unconvincing as well.

Germany just had the key to unlock Argentina's untested defense.

83: Germany Sub: Muller comes off to be replaced by Trochowski. Muller has put in a great shift for his team and he not only scored the first, but he was instrumental in the second as well.

79: Mascherano picks up a yellow, and would miss the semi-finals if Argentina were to make it.

Argentina's Achilles heel was always going to be their defense, and today they just meet a team that they could not handle in their own third.

A long shot from Kroos was well saved by Romero, and a German fourth looks more likely than an Argentine opener.

77: Germany are tearing Argentina apart at the back, and as good as Argentina have been in this tournament, Germany have had their number all game.

76: Germany Sub: Kroos replaces Khedira

73: And there is the third!!! 'Steiger danced through the Argentine defense to the byline. He pulls the ball back to Germany's No.3, Friedrich, who bumbled the ball into the net for Germany's third.

70: Argentina are going to have to throw caution to the wind. Maradona will surely have to bring on some more attacking players in search for the win.

Germany Sub: Boateng comes off for Jansen. Boateng may have picked up a knock.

69: Argentina Sub: Pastore comes on to replace Otamendi. It may be to little to late for the South American's.

67: Its two!!! Miroslav Klose caps off his 100th game in a German shirt with a goal that may have just finished this game.

Podolski brought the ball into the box, Burdisso didn't know whether to track Podolskior Klose, and a great square ball ended up in the back of the net.

65: Argentina are having the lion's share of possession, but the majority of their strike are from long range.

It will only be a matter of time before Maradona introduces the likes of Aguero orVeron from the bench

63: Great defending! Messi shifted the ball inside and was eying up a strike.Mertesacker dove in the way and the ball deflected off him into the box. The ball was going to run into the path of Higuain until a diving challenge from Lahm cleared the danger.

Germany have their backs to the wall now.

62: Tevez took a long-range effort which Neuer smothered. The game is going from end to end, and it is exciting stuff.

Which team will break first?

59: Lahm got forward and easily went past Heinze in the box. His cross was tame and easily gathered by Romero, but Maradona has to be worried with how easy Heinze is being beaten.

57: Nice punch. Boateng whipped a ball in and Klose was trying to get on the end of it, but Romero came out and cleared the danger well.

53: OhhNeuer came off his line to gather a low cross and spilled it back into his area. Luckily for him it fell to a German foot.

51: What a block! The ball was knocked down to Tevez, who was inside the German box. He wrapped his boot around it and Mertesacker took the blunt of it full-force in the face.

47: Argentina have started very strongly, and Germany can't get out of their own half.

45: Germany get the game back going.

First-half Synopsis: The game has been exciting to watch. Argentina have not been at their flashy best but they are still looking dangerous at times. Germany are working hard as expected and they are causing threat when heading towards the Argentine goal.

Despite the lack of goals, there has been plenty of action to keep spectators watching. The game can still go either way.

46: The whistle blows and Germany take a 1-0 lead into the half.

45: One minute of additional time before the half concludes.

42: Germany's passes is just letting them down when it counts the most.

39: Neuer learned from his mistake against England. He came out and cleared the ball with a solid fist.

38: Podolski let a shot rip from outside the box and there was a lot of movement on the ball.

Romero looked to have it covered all the way however.

36: Argentina put the ball in the back of the net, but the goal was called offside. A great ball through from Heinze, but their were four Argentine players offside when the pass was played.

Argentina are getting themselves back into the game.

34: Argentina's best chance fails to Higuain, who turned Friedrich very easily. Neuergot down well to get his hands to it.

Muller just picked up a yellow card, which will keep him out of the semi-final if Germany make it.

That booking is very harsh considering Di Maria slapped the ball and got away without a booking, while Muller hardly used his arm.

33: Di Maria drove at Boateng and got a shot away, but it was a tame effort and easily saved.

Germany are really forcing Argentina out of their element.

30: Love him or hate him, you have to admit that Maradona looks slick.

27: For the first time in the game Messi showed signs of really hurting Germany.

Three Germans had to come close him down and Messi could only get his cross in from behind the byline.

24: What a chance! Klose had the entire goal to shot at from 7-8 yards out, but unfortunately for Germany he ballooned it over the bar.

He really should have scored, or at least hit the target.

22: Great keeping, very brave! Tevez was running towards the German goal to get onto the through ball, but Neuer rushed out and smothered the attack bravely.

20: Germany are really working well to get tight to their opposition and prevent Argentina attack with pace or speed.

16: In a previous attack, Tevez literally ran out of his boots. Either Nike need to make better laces, or Tevez needs to learn how to tie them.

15: Ballack was just shown in the crowd, which looking at how the German side is playing so far in this tournament, it is probably the best place for him.

14: The German players work rate thus far is phenomenal. Argentina are starting to getting some passes together.

10: The first yellow card is awarded to Otamendi, who seemed destined to get into the referee's book.

08: Di Maria broke out and had a chance to start something for Argentina, but Lahmshowed great quality getting back and clearing danger.

This game has started very brightly.

06: Germany are playing some fantastic football at both ends of the pitch. Argentina are struggling to get into the game, but Germany are looking very impressive.

Di Maria deliberately handled the ball, and really should have got a yellow card. The referee is trying his best to keep his cards in his pocket.

03: And it's there! Muller gets Germany in front after just three minutes.

'Steiger whipped the ball in, and Muller got in behind a sloppy organized Argentine defense to head Germany in front.

What a start to this game.

02: Podolski is brought down after passing Otamendi with some ease. The ref is showing some intelligence as he just issues a warning.

01: Klose brings down Mascherano and gets a warning from the ref. Low will be hoping that this is not a repeat of Klose's performance against Serbia.

00: Argentina are the designated home team so they will play in their sky blue and white kit, while Germany will play in their away black strip.

Argentina get the game underway.

3 minutes until kickoff: Both teams are on the pitch, and both team captains are addressing the crowd with an anti-racism speech. 

15 minutes until kickoff: There is no real surprises in either starting 11. Walter Samuel has recovered from his tight injury, but Maradona has chose to leave him on the bench, which could come back to haunt the South Americans.

Germany make no changes but their main concern is sixth of their players come into this game carrying a yellow card. Friedrich, KhediraSchweinsteigerOzilLahm and Muller are all in danger of missing the semi-final if they pick up a yellow card today.

Heinze and Mascherano are the only suspension worries for Argentina.

Team News:

Argentina: 4-3-3


Otamendi - Demichelis - Burdisso - Heinze

Di Maria - Mascherano (C) - Maxi

Tevez - Messi - Higuain

One To Watch: Lionel Messi

Germany: 4-3-3


Lahm (C) - Mertesacker - Friedrich - Boateng

Schweinsteiger - Ozil - Khedira

Muller - Klose - Podlski

One To Watch: Mesut Ozil

Prediction: This is a hard one to call, but I think Germany will take it. As great as Argentina are going forward they have holes at the back.

I think the way Germany set up in the middle of the park will really hurt Argentina and they showed against England how deadly they are on the counter when team press them high.

This will be a great game and I think it will be just won with organization and discipline.


Cash N’ Nova Recollect Pleasures in Red Sox Win

July 3rd, 2010

Giacomo Casanova once said, "By recollecting the pleasures I have had formerly, I renew them, I enjoy them a second time, while I laugh at the remembrance of troubles now past, and which I no longer feel." We could say that about quite a few players on the Red Sox roster, and the Red Sox franchise itself. It's funny how you can use a quote by a ladies man and use it for baseball, isn't it?


The Boston Red Sox defeated the Baltimore Orioles, 3-2, on Friday, thanks to a few guys. Two of these players include Kevin Cash, who was acquired by the BoSox this past Thursday from the Houston Astros in a swap for Angel Sanchez, and the guy who hit a grand slam in his first at-bat not three weeks ago in Daniel Nava.

With both Jason Varitek and Victor Martinez on the DL, the Red Sox were in need of a catcher. With no one else worthy of catching, Theo Epstein decided to take some action and acquire someone who has caught with the Red Sox (and Wakefield) before.

Wakefield took the mound in Fenway Park for the 201st time, passing Roger Clemens for the most lifetime starts in the chapel. Looking at Tim Wakefield's stats before the game, one would tell you that he isn't doing as well as Boston fans would like him to be pitching. A 2-6 record with a 5.21 ERA isn't exactly something to brag about.

Facing him off would be a young maligned pitcher in Brad Bergesen, who needed to prove that he was actually Major League material for Baltimore. Before the game, he was 3-4 with a 6.83 ERA.

It was very evenly matched until the eighth inning which was when endurance was the vital factor to winning the game for both starters. In the end, Wakefield was the better pitcher, as he threw a total of 96 pitches (66 of them being strikes) and surrendering only two runs in eight innings of work.

"I felt fresh even after eight innings," Wakefield said. "I was ready to go the ninth, and maybe even the 10th if necessary."

Although Bergesen surrendered one more run than the knuckleballer, he did silence his critics that day, striking out a career-high seven batters in 7 2/3 innings, and allowing just five hits with no walks.

It's been about two years since Cash was behind the plate catching for Wakefield on the mound. He told the press that he barely called for anything else besides the knuckleball.

"I think he threw two breaking balls and fastballs, everything else was a knuckleball," Cash said. "Every time I have caught him, Wake gets ahead of the hitter."

Cash made quite an impact of his own, gunning Adam Jones at second base in the second inning. Offensively, he batted ninth in the lineup and went 0-for-3 with two ground outs and a fly out.

Later on in the game, J.D. Drew showed off his power, hitting two solo jacks in his first two at-bats. It was the 17th multi-homer game of his career, and were the only runs scored until the bottom of the eighth inning.

With the game tied at 2, Boston needed to find out how to get on base against Bergesen before heading to the ninth. That's exactly what Marco Scutaro did. With two outs, he kept the inning alive by hitting a double to left field. After that one hit, Juan Samuel decided to pull Bergesen out and give the ball to Will Ohman.

Due up to bat against him was Eric Patterson. However, manager Terry Francona decided to make his own move and substitute him with rookie Daniel Nava. Ahead in the count, 2-1, Nava took an inside pitch to the opposite field. The ball dropped just beyond the reach of Nick Markakis, Julio Lugo, and Ty Wigginton, and Marco Scutaro scored from second to give the Red Sox a 3-2 lead, and eventually the game.

"I was just looking for anything to drive and put the ball in play hard, which is funny because that isn't what I did," Nava said. "But it worked and I am sure we will take it."

Wakefield’s first victory at Fenway this season was also his first home win in nearly a year; his last home win was on July 8 against the Oakland Athletics. After 200 starts at the chapel and having sole possession of the record he once shared with Clemens, the victory couldn't have been more special… not to mention that the park is closing in on its 100th anniversary.

Somehow… some way… the Red Sox still find ways to win. With the latest two victims of injuries in Jason Varitek and Manny Delcarmen now on the disabled list, the total number of players on Boston's DL has been increased to nine. The list includes Dustin Pedroia, Josh Beckett, Mike Lowell, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Jeremy Hermida.

"You look at our lineup and you know with the injuries, it isn't how we thought it would be, but as you can see, others guys like J.D. Drew had two huge knocks," Nava said. "I don't think anyone is going up there think they have to carry the team."

With their latest victory, they are now only 1/2 a game behind the New York Yankees for first place in the AL East, and the best record in baseball. How long can the Red Sox keep this streak going? We'll find out…


2010 Wimbledon Final: Tomas Berdych’s Lasers vs. Rafael Nadal’s Heart

July 3rd, 2010

The first time I watched Tomas Berdych play was in the fourth round of the US Open against Tommy Haas. He was only 18 then, but had already attracted some buzz for having knocked Roger Federer out of the Olympics in Greece just weeks earlier. 

And at the time, it was impossible not to already be impressed with his shotmaking. 

It was not like with Andre Agassi or Fernando Gonzalez, where even the viewers watching on TV could see and hear how hard the ball was being hit, but Berdych, when he had time to set up, had a way of almost casually flicking the ball into corners, lines, and angles that could not be retrieved. 

In that first set alone, Berdych must have hit two-dozen winners, but it wasn’t enough. Haas squeaked out that first set and the big, lanky Czech went away after that. 

The following year he returned, scoring his first victory over Rafael Nadal in Cincinnati, and capturing his first Master’s Shield in Paris. He had lacked the intangibles required to beat Haas a year earlier, but they appeared to be adding up, pairing with those stunning strokes, creating a potential Grand Slam champion. 

So what happened after that? I’m not privy to Berdych’s private struggles, but over the next few years he appeared to regress. Part of the problem was Federer: That shock win over the great Swiss in Greece brought Berdych to our attention, but also to Federer’s. In 2006 the Swiss, in the midst of his most dominant season, dealt a pair of lopsided straight-sets defeats to the Czech at Roland Garros and Wimbledon. 

Berdych had more success against Nadal that year, as his 6’5” height made Nadal’s enormous spin less imposing and his flat hitting kept the Spaniard on defensive. He racked up two more wins in Canada and Madrid against Nadal, but the latter of those two actually ended up being a detriment to the Czech’s momentum. 

At the end of the match, in a moment of poor judgment he chose to mock the home crowd’s support for Nadal by gesturing for them to be quiet. In the next round against Gonzalez, they poured their scorn on Berdych, rattling him and sending him home with his metaphorical tail tucked. 

For the next couple of years his results were less impressive, as Nadal broke his losing streak against him and started a new six-match run of his own. Well into his 20s, Berdych simply had not built upon his early success. 

Until the end of 2009, that is. They didn’t receive much attention at the time, but Berdych’s efforts were instrumental in leading the Czech team to the Davis Cup finals. He won tough five-set encounters against Gilles Simon of France in March, Juan Monaco of Argentina in July, and most impressively, Marin Cilic of Croatia in September. 

Cilic was a hot hand at the time, having beaten Andy Murray and reached the US Open quarters just before that, so to stop him in Croatia indicated big things ahead. And, about half a year later, they arrived when he topped Federer in Miami, snapping an eight-match losing streak against the Swiss.

In Roland Garros he plowed through the field, beating Murray to reach the semis before falling just short against Robin Soderling in a superheavyweight clash. The Czech took one more set from Soderling than Federer had in the previous round, and in his postmatch comments the Swede said that nearly every ball Berdych hit had been landing “six inches from the line.” 

But Wimbledon may be the biggest payoff of all from the Czech’s efforts, as he has now beaten Federer for the second straight time. His quarterfinal win over the Swiss marks the first time in eight years that Federer will not reach the final round of the game’s most prestigious event.

It also gives Berdych a chance to duplicate the feat of his fellow six-fiver Richard Krajicek, who ousted Pete Sampras at the same stage of the 1996 Wimbledon. 

Like with Krajicek, Berdych at his best is in a different weight class against most opponents; in his straight-sets win over Novak Djokovic in the semis, it appeared the Serb wasn’t just fighting Berdych, but gravity. 

And now Berdych, who hasn’t actually won a title yet this year, has a chance to win the game’s biggest. All he has to do is beat Nadal one more time. 

Too bad he hasn’t done so since that noisy day in Madrid. It was the Spaniard who ended Berdych and the Czech Republic’s Davis Cup run last year, dispatching the big man in straights on Spanish clay in December. 

Nadal was an impressive player in 2005 and 2006, but has grown further since then, reaching the game’s top ranking twice now and complementing his clay court dominance with a Wimbledon and Australian Open title. He’s coming off a clay court season in which he went undefeated, sweeping all three Master’s Shields and the RG title. 

His performance at Wimbledon has been impressive for nothing so much as his determination: Taken to five sets twice in week one, he has dominated week two ever since pulverizing Paul-Henri Mathieu in round four. Soderling was hitting so hard as to knock opponents’ rackets out of their hands in week one, but Nadal broke him down in the quarters, dropping just one set. 

Murray played high-quality tennis in the semis, matching the Spaniard shot for shot for three sets. Nadal, however, snatched the barest hint of an opportunity that Murray gave him in sets one and three. In set two, when Murray gave none, the Spaniard simply created an opportunity. 

And that’s why it’s hard to bet on Berdych, as much progress as he has made of late. One can debate whether or not Berdych’s game, with its laser groundstrokes and spot-serving, is better for grass than Nadal defense, speed, and heavy spin. 

What one cannot debate is that Nadal has so many non-quantifiable advantages that we might as well call him the Intangible Man.

Since winning his first major in 2005, Nadal has lost only one Grand Slam match after winning the first set. Since then, I can think of only two times—one against Federer in the 2006 RG final, and the other in this event against Soderling—where Nadal has served for a set and been broken. In neither occasion did he actually lose the set, though.  

Anger has never prompted him to throw/break a racket on court or curse at a lines judge. What should be deflating setbacks like losing the fourth set of Wimbledon or debilitating knee injuries are to him mere delays of what must come to pass.

There are those who will never enjoy Nadal’s game as much as Federer’s, and they have that right. His aggressive, physical play may lack Federer’s magical, lighter-than-air qualities, but it’s a game full of its own marvels. Against this master of the intangibles, Berdych’s beautiful ball striking probably won’t be enough.

It should provide a bright future for him, nonetheless, including a successful rest of 2010. But, on Wimbledon’s second Sunday, I pick Nadal in four. 

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