Rafael Nadal’s No.1 sport? It’s football, not tennis. On TV, at least. “I gonna be always watching the football because it’s my favorite sport,” he said. To soccer fans, his uncle is Miguel Angel Nadal, the midfielder for FC Barcelona who played in three World Cups for Spain ending in 2002. Miguel’s nickname, also suited for his nephew: “The Beast.”

ANDY. My tennis partner Macky Michael’s sentimental pick is Andy Roddick. He’d reached three Wimbledon finals—all losing to the same Swiss, including last year’s heartbreaking 16-14 fifth set loss. Again this 2010 event, A-Rod’s out. This time, to unheralded Yen-Hsun Lu of Chinese Taipei. This Taiwanese player my wife Jasmin and I saw at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Funny because in that first round encounter we saw him play against another Andy (Murray), Lu surrendered the first set. Wanting to see other matches as we sure that Lu would lose, we transferred to the other courts. The next thing we knew, Lu beats Murray. This week, it’s the same big-time upset, same first-named opponent.
SKY. My favorite nightly undertaking the past week? Thumb exercise, switching between TV channels both showing green-colored backgrounds: Wimbledon and South Africa. Aren’t we lucky? A few occasions in the past, Grand Slam tennis events were not shown on cable TV. And, with the once-every-four-years World Cup, this is a first: all 64 games aired live for free. Thank you, SkyCable!

SERENA. Flanked by ‘Vas in the semis (Petra Kvitova, Vera Zvonareva and Tsvetana Pironkova), the lone American will march towards her fourth All-England Club title on Saturday. What makes Ms. Williams victorious? Her Nadal-like biceps help. So does her partnership with best friend Venus. But beyond those, it’s her mental muscle. Said Richard Williams, her father: “Serena is like a young Mike Tyson and a pit bull dog, and both of those people were mentally tough in their time. Serena is so mentally tough that she don’t believe she can lose. I sometimes feel watching her when she do lose, she might feel time ran out, or something went wrong, but she didn’t lose.”

WC. Said FIFA boss Joseph Blatter after the controversies: “It is obvious that after the experience so far in this World Cup it would be a nonsense to not reopen the file of technology.. Personally I deplore it when you see evident referee mistakes but it’s not the end of a competition or the end of football, this can happen.. The only principle we are going to bring back for discussion is goal-line technology. Football is a game that never stops and the moment there was a discussion if the ball was in or out, or there was a goal-scoring opportunity, do we give a possibility to a team to call for replays once or twice like in tennis?”

EMAIL. Graeme Mackinnon from Australia: “Football is a game that will suffer if it is stopped from time to time for coaches challenges. In this instance it would have proved the call was wrong BUT there are many other times that a coach AT THE HALFWAY LINE disagrees with an assistant referees’ decision. If the game is stopped, momentum is lost. And don’t you think coaches would seize on that opportunity even if it was limited to a number of challenges per half? And when would the challenge be taken? If it was immediate and proved wrong and it should have been played on, the team is disadvantaged if they were mounting a counter-attack. Karma such as experienced by France during this WC worked.. what goes around comes around. In this case of England and Germany it took 44 years but it finally caught up with England. Karma worked.”

SCHEDULES. For the quarterfinals (RP time): FRIDAY (tomorrow) Brazil vs. Netherlands (10 p.m.); SATURDAY, Ghana vs. Uruguay (2:30 a.m.) and Argentina vs. Germany (10 p.m.). Then, SUNDAY: Spain and Paraguay, 2:30 a.m. (Note: this will be our last chance to watch with the comfortable 10 p.m. time slot; the semis and final all get shown at 2:30 a.m.) For the Final Four, I’m hoping its Brazil-Ghana, Argentina-Spain.

John Pages

By John Pages

I've been a sports columnist since 1994. First, in The Freeman newspaper under "Tennis Is My Game." Then, starting in 2003, with Sun.Star Cebu under the name "Match Point." Happy reading!

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