Some more Nadal-bashing: “Whatever it is, it begins to grate.” And Nole rules.

6 Oct

See October 4th’s “Did Rafa Nadal’s whining set him up for Beijing Open collapse?” YES!

Angry-Rafa-rafael-nadal-16483173-1024-1365

And the full story from the always spot-on Bleacher Report:

Rafael Nadal, the tennis king of idiosyncrasies, might be adding another ritual to his routine: whining. 

In case you haven’t heard, Nadal hated the tennis balls used at the China Open in Beijing. He thinks those things are freak’n dangerous. 

He told the Associated Press (via Tennis.com), “This week we are playing with one ball. Next week we are playing with a different ball,” he said. “That’s dangerous for the shoulder, dangerous for the elbow.”

Oh, Rafa, Rafa, Rafa. What now?

Sometimes it seems the Spaniard is always complaining about something.  

Nadal certainly wasn’t the only player to raise questions about the balls. Andy Murray complained too. It’s just that Nadal’s beef with the balls lands on a growing list of grievances.

You see, this week, it was the balls. Every year he grumbles about the number of hard-court tournaments and the impact it has on his knees.

In November 2013, Nadal complained about the ATP finals being played on indoor hard courts. He told Tennis.com, “During these nine years the Masters Cup was on indoor, a surface that was not the best for me … I understand, but I think this is unfair.”

You think Roger Federer wishes a few French Opens could be played on grass? But every year, the same thing…clay. That’s just wrong. 

Oh, Rafa, Rafa, Rafa.

Sometimes he acts like the world is against him. Like last year, at the French Open. That’s when he slammed the French for their scheduling and called it  “unfair.”

Nadal thinks many things are unfair. 

Two years ago, he was unhappy about the blue clay in Madrid. He and Novak Djokovic threatened to skip the tournament the next year if the blue clay came back. It didn’t. 

There’s nothing wrong with a professional athlete speaking his mind. However, instead of appearing outspoken, Nadal comes across as a whiner. 

He avoids bombastic outbursts like those from Richard Sherman. Yet, there’s something about the way in which Nadal states his case. It rubs folks the wrong way.

Perhaps it’s the tone of his voice, which sometimes barely rises above a mumble? Maybe it’s his shoulder shrugging demeanor in press conference?

Whatever it is, it’s beginning to grate. Like finger nails run across a chalk board, Nadal’s constant complaining irks. 

It’s unfortunate too because otherwise, Nadal is considered humble. He’s gracious in defeat and has been an excellent ambassador for the sport. Just this week, he carried roses out to Li Na at her retirement celebration in Beijing. He was one of the few ATP players to make an appearance. 

But oh Rafa, Rafa, Rafa. Complaining about the balls?

What used to be mere fodder for Rafa haters has spilled over into editorials and tweets.  A recent headline by USA Today asked: “Did Rafa Nadal’s whining set him up for Beijing Open collapse?”

After Nadal went on and on about the experimental blue clay in Madrid, veteran tennis writer Peter Bodo devoted an entire column for Tennis Magazine to questioning Nadal’s persistent whining. Bodo wrote (via NBC Sports):

Most of you are familiar with his dissatisfactions: The engorged calendar, the ranking system (he lobbied to have it transformed into one that was based on 24 months or results, rather than 12), his seemingly never quite right knees, the blue clay. . . Rafa isn’t the only player to complain about such things, but none of his peers at the top of the game seems to have quite as many issues, or appear to take them so personally (to the point where he quit the ATP player council, seemingly because his fellow pros just didn’t understand).

Whether or not the whiner label is justified, the fact that it’s coming up more often speaks to the prevalence of the perception.

Nadal’s talent and accomplishments have already earned him a future spot in the Hall of Fame and probably a few pages in the record books. That’s why the whining seems beneath him. 

Oh Rafa, Rafa, Rafa. It’s OK to remain conscientious and opinionated. Just pick your battles better, or else earn a new nickname: “Rafaree.” 

 

Meanwhile, more Bleacher Report on Djoković’s insanely beautiful final match at China Open, Novak Djokovic’s Late-Season Form Will Lead to 4th World Tour Finals Trophy:

Novak Djokovic played arguably the greatest final of his phenomenal career at the China Open on Sunday, beating Tomas Berdych 6-0, 6-2, and his excellent late-season form will lead him to a third consecutive and fourth overall ATP World Tour Finals win in London.

The Joker’s domination on Sunday was absolute. In just over an hour, the Serb sprinted to a 6-0, 5-0 lead against a bewildered opponent. Everything was working. He was exceptional in the return game, almost perfect from the baseline and played with just enough aggression without pushing things over the top.

Berdych was lost for words after the match, via the ATP World Tour’s official website:

“I met somebody in the final who I’ve never seen before. I was just swept off the court. I just said to my coach now that I probably played over 700 matches in my career…But I have never, ever experienced anything like that.”

hi-res-7177ad13c3b93cd38692d28ebf961885_crop_northVincent Thian/Associated Press

Comment: nikobakos@gmail.com

From Andrew Sullivan’s Daily Dish: “Turkey’s Stake In The ISIS War”

5 Oct

Turkey’s Stake In The ISIS War

Oct 2 2014 @ 5:22pm

TURKEY-SYRIA-KURDS

As expected, Turkey’s parliament today authorized the government to take military action against jihadists in both Syria and Iraq, but Ankara has yet to say what, if anything, that action will be. With ISIS on its border, though, we might find out soon:

Kurdish fighters backed by US-led air strikes were locked in fierce fighting Wednesday to prevent the besieged border town of Ain al-Arab from falling to the Islamic State group fighters. “There are real fears that the IS may be able to advance into the town… very soon,” the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights warned, with the jihadists within three kilometres (two miles) of the strategic town.

Or an attack on the tomb of Suleiman Shah, a Turkish enclave in northern Syria, might be what finally draws Ankara into the war:

Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said Tuesday that the militants were advancing on the white stone mausoleum, guarded by several dozen Turkish soldiers and perched on a manicured lawn under a Turkish flag on the banks of the Euphrates. The tomb was made Turkish under a treaty signed with France in 1921, when France ruled Syria. Ankara regards it as sovereign territory and has made clear that it will defend the mausoleum if it is attacked.

Jamie Dettmer relays the suspicions of diplomats in Ankara that “Turkey will limit its military role—doing a bare minimum as a NATO member to avoid embarrassing the Western alliance but not enough to undermine the anti-Western narrative that thrills Erdogan’s Islamist supporters and other religious conservatives in the country”:

“As much as Turkey enjoys the protection of NATO’s Patriot missiles against the Syrian regime, Ankara is perhaps not willing to appear an active member of a war operation against what was initially a Sunni insurgency movement in Syria,” according to Marc Pierini, a former ambassador of the European Union in Ankara. “Turkey under the Justice and Development Party (AKP) has never wanted to appear to be aligning itself with Western policies.”

Erdogan’s domestic critics say he has to some degree helped the rise of ISIS, as well as other Islamic militants. At the very least Turkey has turned a blind eye to them as they emerged in the Syrian civil war and increasingly formed the vanguard in the fight to topple Syrian President Bashar Assad. Some critics argue that Turkey’s intelligence agencies have gone farther and actively channeled arms supplies to the jihadists.

Koplow also explores how the spillover effects of the conflict in Syria stand to influence Turkey’s domestic politics. For one thing, the government’s non-response is alienating the country’s Kurdish population, threatening to undo what had been a fairly successful rapprochement:

Many Kurds blame Ankara for allowing ISIS to fester and even for empowering the group through its previous see-no-evil-hear-no-evil border policy. The more half-hearted the Turkish government has been about getting rid of ISIS, the harder it is to successfully conclude the Kurdish peace process. In southeastern Turkey, funerals for Kurdish fighters who have been killed fighting ISIS across the border are a regular occurrence, and they contribute to growing discord between a naturally restive population and the Turkish government. The ongoing battle between ISIS and Kurdish fighters for the town of Kobane on the Syria-Turkey border — and Turkey’s apparent reluctance to get involved for fear of empowering Kurdish militants in Turkey — is inflaming passions and contributing to antigovernment rhetoric in ways that will reverberate well beyond this particular fight. …

An economy burdened by refugees, renewed unrest among Turkish Kurds, resurgent nationalism, and policy run by unaccountable intelligence services makes for an unstable brew. ISIS has presented the United States and the entire Middle East with a new set of problems, but its immediate legacy may be an end to what has been a remarkable period of Turkish domestic stability.

(Photo: A Turkish soldier stands on a hill in Suruc, Turkey on October 2, 2014, facing the Islamic State (IS) fighters’ new position, 10km west of the Syrian city of Ain al-Arab (Kobani). By Bulent Kilic/AFP/Getty Images)

Comment: nikobakos@gmail.com

“Did Rafa Nadal’s whining set him up for Beijing Open collapse?” YES!

4 Oct

The boy is an incorrigible kvetch!  I’ve been saying that forever.

GTY 456587820 S SPO TEN CHN(Getty Images)

See whole piece in USA Today Sports.  And, frankly, I think he’s rapidly approaching washed-up.

Comment: nikobakos@gmail.com

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“Turkey Must Save the Kurds” — Aslı Aydıntaşbaş

3 Oct

A surprisingly strong-worded opinion piece from Milliyet’s Aslı Aydıntaşbaş in today’s Times:

Turkey Kurds03edaydintasbasart-superJumbo Turkish soldiers helping Kurdish families fleeing the fighting in Syria. Credit Bülent Kılıç/Associated Press (Click)

I was moved immensely by the courage shown in the closing paragraphs of the piece as well; it illustrated for me the kind of political maturity — something I can only call a “politics of compassion” – that so many parties or sectors of Turkish society, Turks and Kurds, religious and secular, have been moving towards in the past few decades, and on so many levels and issues and despite the inevitable set-backs.  But then, it’s only a mature soul that feels compassion, isn’t it?

“Doing so will require a huge paradigm shift for Turkey: It must abandon its nationalist legacy and reimagine itself as a joint Turkish-Kurdish entity. [Who in Turkey says these things?!] Turkish Kurds represent about 25 percent of the population, and the government has wisely been pursuing a peace process with the P.K.K. There are ups and downs in the talks between Turkish intelligence and the imprisoned P.K.K. leader, Abdullah Ocalan. But at the end of the day, both sides need each other.

It is therefore a mistake to assume that a weakened Kurdish presence means a stronger Turkey or that Turkey’s own peace process is disconnected from the fate of Kurds outside our borders. The Turkish government cannot sit on the sidelines because it fears an autonomous, P.K.K.-controlled Kurdish zone on the border more than the Islamic State’s gains. When I asked one government official why Turkey was not helping the Kurdish forces in Syria, he replied, “Why must we choose between the P.K.K. and ISIS?”

But we must. We must choose because the Kurds are our only reasonable allies in a region of turmoil. Embracing them — our fellow citizens — would also help to heal our own fractured souls.[My emphases]

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Comment: nikobakos@gmail.com

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Russia Is (Again) Persecuting the Crimean Tatars

1 Oct

From Carnegie Europe:

In March 2014, Russia marched into Crimea and illegally annexed the peninsula, which had previously been part of Ukraine. Since then, the Crimean Tatars, a Turkic ethnic group native to the peninsula, have been subject to intimidation, arrests, and expulsions. Such persecution is a symptom of a new wave of Russian nationalism that, if unchecked, could threaten other minorities.

It is estimated that 3,000 Tatars have already left Crimea this year, out of fear. It’s not the first time that the population, which first settled in Crimea during the fifteenth century, has had to endure such pressure. In May 1944, Stalin deported some 190,000 Tatars to Central Asia, allegedly for their collaboration with the Nazis. Soon after Stalin’s death in 1953, a Crimean Tatar movement was established with the aim of returning Tatars to their homeland.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, tens of thousands of Tatars did return to Crimea. According to Ukraine’s 2001 national census, Crimea was home to 243,000 Tatars out of a population of around 2 million.

Crimea-Peninsula-Map(click)

Comment: nikobakos@gmail.com

 

“Glykosimoritis” brings us the story of the Karamanlidiko map…sort of

1 Oct

From this post a couple of weeks ago:

tumblr_n85l4e4ePN1srjuvno1_1280His google profile:

Screen Shot 2014-09-30 at 9.04.31 PM

And his quirky, funny story below about — well, I can’t quite say what it’s about — a kind of Alice in Wonderland walkabout through Karamanlı Cappadocia and his own life, which, I’m sorry, is just too idiomatic and full of delightful Greco-Turkisms for me to find time to translate now…that is, if it is even remotely translatable.  But it manages, in its absurdist glee,  to be a hundred times more devastating a slap at the statelet’s bourgeoisie (“glorious Yunanistan” he calls it) than even my most vitriolic posts. 

More power to you Γλυκέ μας.

Greek-readers enjoy:

(click to open screen-shots)

Screen Shot 2014-09-30 at 9.11.59 PMScreen Shot 2014-09-30 at 9.13.07 PM

Συγχαρητήρια! Congratulations! for trumpetting Al Jazeera headline: “Greece, a front line for state-sponsored racism in Europe”

29 Sep

“…a front line for state-sponsored racism in Europe.”

Are you proud of yourselves?  Και εις ανώτερα!

immigrants-19-banners-athens.si(Reuters/Yorgos Karahalis)

“Once the cradle of European civilization, Athens is now the center of a continental decivilizing process.”  See whole article .

And I want to make sure you all know my heartfelt congratulations go out to all and every one of you, every inhabitant of the statelet that’s sat by silently doing and saying nothing all these years as this ugliness built up its now seemingly unstoppable momentum.  And instead are worried about whether Albanian genes will show up on your DNA chart

Comment: nikobakos@gmail.com

 

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