Friday 22 July 2016

Travel diaries : Coorg

Finally after months of planning, the entire office set out on a short trip to Coorg. There was no plan, no itinerary of where we will go or what we will do once we reach there. We just booked a mini bus from Bangalore, and a homestay there, and set out on Friday night. We were 17 of us, 6 of us carried our cycles, we had a few board games too, and a guitar, so we had that much planned at least, and hoped to have as much fun as we could.

Before we reached our homestay, we came across this bridge.
A pleasant gust of wind welcomed us as we got down the bus and the view all around was amazing

Even though we were sleepy and tired, we spent a good 10 minutes admiring the beauty of the lake and the forest all around, and the peace and the calm was soothing beyond words

Our home for the next two days was going to be this one here. Situated in a tiny clearing amidst all the greenery and a lake right infront it, was more than any of us could ask for

The view from the homestay was majestic to say the least

We all sat quietly and admired the sunrise

One by one people started to crash, but nobody was in any great hurry to go out anywhere again; we went there just to relax. The one's awake took out the guitar and started playing whatever we could, and the mood was already turning into a soothing and joyous one. Soon it was time for lunch, and we all headed out to Madikeri. By around 3:30 we were done and made our way to Mandalpatti. We did not climb to the top, but instead decided to walk to a stream nearby.

On our way there, we were already walking into scenes we can never imagine while living in a city. The above picture shows the beginning of a stream running down the hill slope

Our first glance of the stream. Add to it its soft murmur, and what you get is heaven

A view of the stream from where we stood

Walking in the knee-deep, cold waters was pure bliss

On the way back, we found more majestic views of the forests and the clouds and the hills. The beauty of the place was almost poetic

After coming back to the homestay, we freshened up. It was time for board games and guitar and fun and frolic. We went on late into the night, and it was more enjoyable than we thought it would be.

Next morning we again woke up at our own convenient times. Whoever were up a bit early, they took up cycles and rode for a couple of hours. The experience of riding amidst all the greenery and breathing in the fresh air was a great experience.

Soon it was time for us to make our way back to Bangalore. Felt like it came to an end all too soon, but maybe that's where the beauty of a place like Coorg is; we probably can't get enough of it... ever.

Friday 8 July 2016

Semi final predictions : Will Federer make it to his 11th Wimbledon final?

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It is men's semi finals day at Wimbledon, as we get ready for four heavyweights giving it their all to earn a place in history. If the quarter finals were any indication, there is going to be tons of drama, emotions, and of course, fabulous tennis. All four of them are capable of playing out of the world tennis, and it is very difficult to see which two actually prevail in the end


Two years ago, Milos Raonic faced a straight set defeat against the 7-time champion at the exact stage of this tournament. This time around, the story might unfold a different way, as the Canadian has improved by leaps and bounds during this period. Add to it, he even has two legends of the game, Carlos Moya and John McEnroe.


Milos Raonic is reaping the benefits of a solid serve and volley game this Wimbledon. Till now he has won 99 points out of 133 while serving and volleying with a 74% success rate, which in comparison is a huge improvement to the 33 times he came to the net in the 2014 edition. So if he employs a similar strategy here, Federer will need to be making baseline passes to unsettle him. Strangely though, that is exactly where Federer's game has dipped; in both 2014 and 2015, till the finals, Federer won 52% of the points from the baseline, and this time around, it is just 48%.


Even though the statistics are a little discouraging for the Swiss, we all know how great a champion he is. Raonic did beat him 
the last time they faced in Brisbane earlier this year, and this will definitely boost Raonic psychologically. But he has a 9-2 win record against the Canadian, which is hugely one-sided. Also, his epic comeback against Marin Cilic, and the huge support from the Centre court crowd is going to keep him motivated even at critical phases.

It is a really though one to predict, but I think Roger has a slight edge here. Federer is a great tactician and he will find a way to counter Raonic's strategies like nobody else can. The return games will be crucial for both, and Federer's chip and charge tactic might come in really handy at times to put pressure on Raonic. I say Raonic might take a set off Federer. A slight chance maybe even two. But Federer is definitely going to the finals at SW19 for the 11th time in his career.

PREDICTION : FEDERER 7-6(5), 4-6, 6-4, 6-3

Wednesday 6 July 2016

Wimbledon 2016 : Men's quarter finals preview and predictions

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We are into the business end of the tournament as we await the men's quarter finals later in the day. Starting with 128 contenders, we are down to just 8 men. We have had many surprises along the way, the most consequential being the fall of the two time defending champion Novak Djokovic, which leaves the tournament wide open for the 8 remaining players to step up and grab this golden opportunity. Each of the players have made the quarters on the back of some wonderful performances and none of them are going to make it easy for their respective opponents to book a semi final berth. The outcomes are far from certain, but I will try and predict the results of the mouth watering clashes today.


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Coming off from the most famous win of his career, when he defeated Djokovic in the 3rd round, 'Sam the slayer' brushed aside Nicolas Mahut in the 4th round in straight sets, proving that beating Djokovic was not just a fluke. He faces Raonic in the quarters, who had comfortable victories in the first 3 rounds, but had to come down from 2-sets to love down against David Goffin to prevail in 5 sets. This will be a battle of big servers, so expect short rallies and tie breakers in this one. Even though Sam has had a dream Wimbledon so far, the Canadian will end his run with his slightly better all-court game.

PREDICTION : MILOS RAONIC 7-6(5), 6-7(3), 7-5, 6-4


Coming off an injury-plagued clay court swing, Federer came into Wimbledon amidst rumours that he might withdraw. Thankfully he played and hasn't looked in any trouble at all. He has won all the 12 sets he has played so far and is moving better with every passing match. One notable fact is also that he hasn't played any opponent so far who is capable of giving him a stern test. Cilic has had a similar story. Dropping just one set in the first 3 rounds, he got a free pass to the quarters when Nishikori retired mid match against him. But both of them are more than decent players to raise their game in important matches. If Cilic plays the way he did in the 2014 US Open, when he beat Federer in straight sets in the semi finals and went on to lift the title, even the great Roger Federer will have a hard time stopping him from a win. But since that US Open, I haven't really seen Cilic unleash that kind of brutality till now. So I think Federer will play a master class which Cilic won't be able to match


edit : that prediction went horribly wrong, but at least Federer won! what a comeback by the maestro!


Both these guys have come off 5 setters in their respective 4th round matches and now face each other to book a semi final berth. Tomas Berdych is the over whelming favourite in this clash, but Pouille has beaten the likes of Del Potro and Tomic en route to the quarters, which says a lot about the ability of the 22 year old Frenchman. A Pouille win would be nothing less than an upset and crazier things have happened in this edition which none of us would have predicted. But I think the Czech veteran will hardly be troubled as he makes it once more to a last 4 finish.



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Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is always a threat to anyone on any surface. His journey so far has been a roller coaster ride. He overcame John Isner in a marathon 5 setter ending 19-17 in the fifth in the third round, and would have been a relieved man as Gasquet retired in the first set in their 4th round encounter. In stark contrast, Murray has had a smooth run, winning all 12 sets he has played, none of which has even gone to a tie breaker. This was expected as he has been in red-hot form this season and grass is a surface he is very comfortable in. Can Tsonga topple the world number 2? I do not think so. Their head to head is tilted heavily in Murray's favour (12-3) and I think it will continue with the same trend. But I somehow feel that Tsonga will not go without some fireworks and take a set off Murray, nothing more.

PREDICTION : ANDY MURRAY 5-7, 7-6(2), 6-3, 6-3