Woke to a sunny morning and I had poached eggs and toast and tea and relaxed with an old English newspaper……and at 11am settled down to watch the below…no need for me to add anything!!
BBC Sport at Melbourne Park
Switzerland's Stanislas Wawrinka won his first Grand Slam title with victory over an injury-hit Rafael Nadal in the Australian Open final.
Wawrinka withstood a fightback from the world number one, who was struggling with a back problem, to come through 6-3 6-2 3-6 6-3.
The 28-year-old becomes only the second Swiss man to win a Grand Slam singles title after 17-time champion Roger Federer.
"Nadal could have easily walked off court but he didn't and it added to the match. I was impressed at how Wawrinka had the mental capacity to finish off the match. For a while it looked like he was getting nervous, tired, missing easy shots and screaming at his team. It is hard to beat an injured player, especially an injured Rafa. To beat a Rafa at 60% is not easy. It was a fantastic gutsy effort from both of them."
And he is the first man outside the 'big four' of Nadal, Federer, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray to win a Grand Slam since Juan Martin Del Potro at the 2009 US Open.
Fortunes fluctuated wildly over the course of two hours and 21 minutes as Wawrinka opened in scintillating form before a tearful Nadal appeared close to quitting at two sets down, only to stage a remarkable recovery in the third.
The Spaniard, 27, showed great spirit to hit back once again from a break down in the fourth, but a forehand winner gave Wawrinka the decisive break at 5-3 and he served out the biggest win of his life with a love game.
"I still think that I'm dreaming," said Wawrinka. "It's a strange feeling. I saw so many finals. I always try to watch the finals of Grand Slams because that's where the best players are playing.
"Before today, for me it wasn't a dream. I never expected to play a final. I never expected to win a Grand Slam. And right now I just did it."
Nadal, who revealed he felt the back problem in the warm-up, said: "It is a tournament that I really had some troubles physically in my career and is something that is painful for me.
"But that's part of life. That's part of sport. It's not the end of the world. Is just another tough moment."
"The last thing that I wanted to do was retire. No, I hate to do that, especially in a final.
"It's not the moment to talk about that. It's the moment to congratulate Stan. He's playing unbelievable. He really deserved to win that title."
Wawrinka had never won a set, let alone a match, in 12 previous attempts against Nadal, and was making his Grand Slam final debut against a man in his 19th.
But Nadal's travails in the second half of the match should not overshadow what was a magnificent performance from Wawrinka for much of the contest.
He coped brilliantly with the Spaniard's fizzing forehand in the early stages, using his backhand to return the fire, and 12 winners almost helped him to a 5-1 lead.
Some nerves were finally revealed when he tried to close out a set against Nadal for the first time, failing to make a first serve as he fell 0-40 down, but the 2009 champion could not get a return in play as Wawrinka hit back to seal it with an ace.
Three sweeping forehands helped the Swiss break at the start of the second on a run of 12 straight points, and it was when serving at 2-0 down that Nadal first appeared to feel the problem with his back.
After leaving the court for treatment, to the annoyance of Wawrinka and boos from some sections of the crowd, Nadal returned unable to serve at anything like full speed, and at one stage was close to tears.
"Wawrinka's first-set performance was of such a high quality that we may have been deprived of a classic duel - and who is to say that the man who took out Djokovic wouldn't also have been able to take out a fully fit Nadal. The world number one at half speed was a more perplexing conundrum, but when given the chance to serve for the title, Wawrinka illustrated the self-belief that has underpinned his surge up the rankings."
Another visit from the physio followed after game five, and when Wawrinka took the second set almost unopposed, the 13-time Grand Slam champion appeared close to calling it quits on a long walk back to his chair.
What followed was remarkable, with Nadal staging the unlikeliest of fightbacks - possibly as the pain killers kicked in - while Wawrinka completely lost his rhythm with victory apparently his for the taking.
The Swiss made 19 unforced errors and, despite still not moving freely, Nadal managed to increase his service speed just enough to keep the misfiring Wawrinka at bay and clinch the third set.
It now appeared to be a test of Wawrinka's nerve as much as Nadal's fitness, because the Spaniard was clearly not about about to give up, and he clung on magnificently.
Two break points were saved at the start of the fourth, and a break recovered at 4-2 down, but Wawrinka made the decisive move with a brilliant forehand into the corner to break for 5-3 and raced through the final game.
Still on the subject of tennis another not so famous Canadian tennis player, Daniel Nestor won yet another grand slam title in mixed Doubles..if you have time Google him and see all the titles he has won in his 22 years in the sport he truly is a Canadian hero and I know doubles especially mixed doubles does not great coverage but I know first hand how much fun the mixed doubles can be.
After tennis I put my hiking boots on and for a change hiked all around town it is nice to walk and see the sights, stores and things I do not normally see as I fly by on Little Blackey!!!
Enjoy the shots!!!
A famous birthday today!!!
In the history of the game, no one was better at creating scoring chances and goals than Wayne Gretzky. And really, it is not even close. Wayne Gretzky's ability to think the game, send the puck to isolated places where the shooter had daylight and an angle was breathtaking.
When Wayne Gretzky was 6 years old, his father built a rink in the family's backyard. On that lonely sheet of ice, the young Gretzky honed his skills and worked for many hours on becoming a better hockey player. He became so good at it, playing against kids his own age was deemed unfair. At six.
Wayne Gretzky became famous as a child for extraordinary feats of goal scoring. He began playing against older boys--at six he played against 10 year olds and scored just one goal--but he quickly became the best player even against much older competition. The phenom scored 378 goals at the Pee Wee level in Brantford. He became known as "the White Tornado" and each season of hockey saw him step up a level of competition and then beat it down as though it were a walk in the park.
From the age of 6, Wayne Gretzky of the Brantford Steelers had the following goal totals in the Ontario Minor Hockey Association:
- Age 6: 1
- Age 7: 27
- Age 8 104
- Age 9: 196
- Age 10: 378 (in 85gp)
By 1975, Wayne Gretzky had moved to Toronto (played for the Nationals of the legendary Metro Toronto Junior "B" League) and scored 60 points in 28 games. In 1977-78, a decade after he began gaining fame, the teenager skated onto OHA (modern OHL) ice as a regular to show the boys what he could do.
He was 16. In his one full season in the OHA, Wayne Gretzky scored (regular season and playoffs) 76gp, 76-132-208. He finished 2nd in scoring that season, to 19-year old Bobby Smith (he turned 20 in February of that year).
At this point in NHL history, Wayne Gretzky would be three years from being draft eligible. Although his talent and drive clearly screamed higher levels, the rules of the game at that time meant NHL teams could not find a way to retain his talents and for Wayne Gretzky to turn pro.
BRIDGING THE GAP
Gretzky at that point was too good for junior (or at least it looked like we would be) and the youngster also had an urge to play at the highest possible level despite his youth. The NHL approached the issue as "the rules are rules", but the outlaw World Hockey Association had been flirting with the idea of drafting underage players for at least a year--in fact, they had drafted Ken Lineseman as an underager in 1977.
Its important to understand the climate at this time (this is spring 1978). The player has expressed interest in signing a pro contract--perhaps in Europe--in order to further push his skills. The WHA made overtures in the spring, and in April 1978 Gretzky's agent (Gus Badali) was quoted as saying the young man would forego the final three years of his junior eligibility and sign with the fledgling league should he be drafted. THIS brought forward more hell than a little bit:
- Iona Campagnolo, federal minister of fitness and amateur sport meets with Ben Hatskin, CEO of the WHA in May and tells him the federal government would object to any signings of underage players. Campagnolo: "Mr Hatskin indicated to me that the league has no intention of signing underage players. However, he also said member clubs may have other ideas."
On June 12, 1978, Nelson Skalbania of the Indianapolis Racers announced that he had signed Wayne Gretzky to a 7-year, $1.75M personal services contract. The gifted youngster had slipped through the fingers of the OHA, and the NHL. This began a long series of idiotic quotes from respected hockey men about Gretzky's ability--altough offsetting this was Jim McAuley, the owner of the Sault Ste Marie club--who said his first thought was to shut down the club (hyperbole and overreaction became commonplace during this period).
Del Wilson--long the Montreal Canadiens scouting director and an exceptional judge of NHL talent, was quoted as saying "this is a complete disaster. He's a great hockey player, but he's not ready for the pro's. He'll be playing against guys 30 years and older." This was followed by other extraordinary claims, like the whopper that got a lot of play during this time suggesting the young Gretzky didn't have enough talent to make the 1950 Maple Leafs (don't ask me, there was some weird stuff going on about Gretzky before he flattened the NHL in 79-80).
Nelson Skalbania sold Wayne Gretzky on a Thursday (Nov. 2, 1978--34 years ago today) and was the first of two men who should have known better. Gretzky, whose motivation was to play hockey at the highest possible level, expressed frustration at the move:
Once Gretzky arrived in Edmonton, it didn't take long for a bond to form between player and his new city. Gretzky got off the plane as an impact player, and in his first season in Edmonton (and the final WHA season) #99 posted 72, 43-61-104 totals. That single WHA season gets overlooked a lot, but it was very important in establishing Gretzky as a player who could compete at that level. Gretzky himself wasn't sure--he told his agent Gus Badali that he'd score 20 goals and 40 assists--and probably gave him the confidence to enter the NHL in 1979-80 confident of success.
On January 28, 1979, Wayne Gretzky signed a 21-year contract with Peter Pocklington.
EARLY NHL CAREER
From fall 1979 through his departure from Edmonton (Peter Pocklington, the second man who should have known better, sold his contract to Los Angeles), Wayne Gretzky provided Edmonton and Oiler fans with the highest "peak value" of any player in NHL history. There are no words strong enough to describe the dominance: he was so far beyond what had come before it took years to adjust to the point totals. Even today, Gretzky's peak seasons look like some kind of fantasy, some impossible misprint in the book of hockey's past.
Gretzky's most effective skill was his ability to see the ice, the players and their position and to find the best option for scoring chances. When I was a young man, I’d go to Oilers games with buddies or my wife and watch from the bleeders. Some think it’s a horrible place to watch the game but for me it was an education in the talent and vision of Wayne Gretzky. I’ve said this before, but the beauty of his game was knowing where the open spaces were and who could get there. Many of his passes looked seeing-eye or lucky, but he had a sixth sense and would send the puck to places where Kurri or some other player was heading. Walter Gretzky has spoken many times on this subject and that ability made defending #99 impossible on many shifts.
The gift of Gretzky was that all of his efforts were dedicated to finding the best offensive opportunities that ran counter to the coverage rules of the game.
He was a beauty and it was a privilege to watch him play. I absolutely hate it when old guys (like me) say things like "we'll never see his equal" but in this case it fits. The Great One? That doesn't begin to tell the story.
This man has been my hero ever since I saw him live in 1980 when I moved to edmonton….a super star on and off the ice…I even have his number 99 as a tattoo and if anyone wants to see where it is send me an e mail!!!!