Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The ATP Aces in aceing opponents

The ATPWorldTour website has been getting  better in terms of providing career stats of players. I have thought about putting it to some use, making some analyses out of it and seeing if they lead to some interesting insights!
I start it off with this one involving one of the most loved-about stat in the sport - Aces! The site provided a list of the top 500 men to have sent the maximum no. of aces in their career. Looking at that number alone may not make sense for the reason that someone like Raonic would feature low because of the lesser number of years he has been a pro than, say, Ivan Ljubicic. So, I have taken another parameter 'Aces/Match' and have combined the 'Aces' vs 'Aces per match' into an X-Y chart to see where the 500 players turn up.
Here is a look at the chart. You can hover over each circle to get details of the players. I have purposely annotated some players' names to draw some highlights out of the exercise. Additionally, the chart will also allow you to play with and compare players by giving the option of filtering specific players. Feel free to play with it. Believe me, this filter option is good fodder for some insightful time-pass for any tennis lover.

Some of the highlights that can be inferred from the chart above:
1. The chart is so crowded towards the bottom left indicating how difficult it is to serve Ace bombs day after day, set after set! A lot of the players are in the '2-6 Aces/Match & <1000 aces="" br="" career="" category.="" in="">2. The ones towards the extreme right form a scarce community and the names there are all the ones we get reminded when we think of Aces! Goran Ivanisevic, unsurprisingly, leads by ace count but Ivo Karlovic is way ahead of all others with a staggering 18.72 Aces/Match! Unbelievable number that.
3. Pete Sampras and Roger Federer are not compared and pitted against each other for just their single-hand backhand and grandslam count. They are as close as they are in terms of their Acing pattern as they are in the specified areas. Pete, though, has a pretty solid 10 Aces/Match to Federer's 8!
4. Aces alone don't win one matches - If Goran and Ivo are examples for that theory, the corollary is well defended by the locations of Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic in this chart. The numbers of Rafa are a shocking surprise: He averages 3 Aces/Match! It is significant to mention that Rafa & Ferrer stay close in their Acing patterns.
5. Mildy surprising is the fact that Andy Murray out-numbers Nole in this matrix. He can send rockets,we all knew but would we have thought he would be serving 1.5 aces more than Djokovic on an average?
6. The Ivanisevic effect is quite evident in the current generation of players when you take a look at those who fly high on the Y-Axis!
There is Ivo and then there are two up and coming North Americans in John Isner and Milos Raonic (I don't know if Isner qualifies for that sort of an adjective given the horrid phase he is going through!). The two average more than 15 Aces/Match!

Compare that with the 2.7 of someone like Kei Nishikori and that will make you appreciate the beauty of this sport! Two players could be contrasting in one very important stat but still could stay close in Rankings, thanks to the dynamics of so many other parameters that come into play. More on those other parameters in  subsequent articles!
Till then, enjoy and play with this siloed piece of the puzzle.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Book Look - #45

CRIME AND PUNISHMENT by Fyodor Dostoevsky

 Plot: Raskolnikov is made to discontinue education and go loafing around for want of money and the feeling that he is superior makes him epitomise Napolean and think he's beyond the laws of the land. In making his contribution to help mankind, he gets hot-headed and murders two women and suffers from delirium. Does he possess guilt?; Does the entry of his mother and sister make things better?; Does he continue helping people? All are answered in typical Dostoevsky style with a subtle heavy dose (not an oxymoron, at least for FD!) of philosophy!

Prime Characters: Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov, Sofia Semyonovna, Avdotya, Pulcheria Alexandrovna, Dmitri Razumihin, Porfiry, Luzhin et al.

  • The tale is as gripping as it is deep in content. Dostoyevsky's works are the best examples of the Iceberg concept. Some may just see the tip, some may understand more and go a bit deep; Few can get to the bottom of what he tells. Having said that, I don't even know if I have breached the tip!
  • Raskolnikov's intent, his sufferings and the validity of his question on why to suffer in Prison when there is so much scope for it outside shake the reader's thoughts! His contrasting deeds that define his character find purpose near the end and his is an inspiring creation.
  • Razumihin, Svidrigaïlov, Avdotya, Sofia - all of these characters that play fiddle have a definite purpose and accentuate the impact! Especially, the flashback of Svidrigaïlov & his culmination towards the end is terrific.
  • There are mind-blowing quotable quotes all along the work. A few come and go i unnoticeable places as well! To sample a few: "Reason is the slave of passion, you know"; "He had the air of a man who wants dreadfully to sneeze, but can't" (How about that for features-depiction?)
  • The sequences of Raskolnikov with Porfiry are fiery and show us clearly how a guilty mind can be played with and irritated to the core!
Classic! No other word can aptly desrcibe this marvellous work of art!

Book Look - #44

Plot: It is highly difficult to reveal the plot in a succinct manner, for, there is a whole bunch of identity-swapping for winning loves and mending broken relations. The 'go-to' man who solves all issues is the sensible valet of Bertie, Jeeves! Any Trouble - Go,Ask Jeeves!

Prime Characters: Bertie Wooster, Jeeves, Fink Nottle, Madeline Bassett, Agatha, the Winkworths et al.

  • The setup is sort of a cob-web and the situations where their swaps make them get into trouble presents excellent scope for comedy, which PGW pounces on and delivers!
  • The characters of the pestering aunts  and how they are being countered makes for interesting read.
  • One cannot just ignore Jeeves smart ideas. His serious suggestions in moments of senseless planning all around makes him the admirable assistant.
A Pleasant read, the comic-tempo builds and bursts towards the end!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Book Look - #43

PIGS HAVE WINGS by P.G.Wodehouse
Plot: The beloved Pig of Lord Emsworth needs to be made to win a contest. A competing Pig, owned by Parsloe is made to look fit and fine giving Emsworth's obese pig no chance in the contest. The responsibility of jeopardising Parsloe's plans falls in the hand of the Lord's brother. Amidst the Confusion & commotion that gets caused, does he succeed?!

Prime Characters: Lord Emsworth, Sir Gregor Parsloe, Empress and many more!

  • It is a tough start to get into PGW's diction and writing style but once you cross the barrier, there is no limit for fun! It flows!
  • The sarcasm, queer citations and examples, riotous exchanges inside the Blanding's castle are all thoroughly enjoyable!
  • The scene at the house by the railway line towards the end where the Pig is hidden causes a ruckus and the reader has strings of moments to laugh at!
Power of humour, expressed brilliantly!

Book Look - #42

EIGHT DAYS TO LIVE by Iris Johansen
Plot: A cult group named 'Sang Noir' decides to chase down an artist and kidnap her for their yearly sacrifice. She understands the root cause of it being an art-work titled 'Guilt' which she had painted. In search of the answers to why that painting had enraged them, she goes searching for answers which lie in the 30 coins Judas got for betraying Jesus Christ! In her search for truth, she is accompanied and guarded by a highly intelligent & cold-blooded acquaintance from the past.

Prime Characters: Jane Macguire, Caleb Shaw, Eve Duncan, Jack Govin, MacDuff, Joe Duncan.

  • Thriller works that tow the 'Conspiracy' line are a delight to read and when that conspiracy is of the proportions of relating to Jesus, it doesn't get much bigger! In that sense, this Iris Johansen work of the Eve Duncan series is a killer.
  • The character of Caleb Shaw, the protector is worth admiring & those of the translator and Jack Govin who helps in the expedition offer a pleasant angle to the story.
  • The insanse Sang Noir group is portrayed well and the chase involving travel to different countries is pulsating.
  • The climax takes place in vivid settings & the portion of the story in Jerusalem makes one relate to Angels & Demons in terms of the level to which the conspiracy takes shape.
A highly enthralling ride to the early A.D. years and back!

Book Look - #41

TRUE BLUE by David Baldacci
Plot: One of two police sisters is out from jail after serving a sentence on doping charges tailored out on her. The other is on the trail of the murder of a consultant in a litigation firm. With the help of a guy from the firm, the younger one tries to track down the murderer without the knowledge of her elder and things get crazy and their lives are under threat when the story assumes political proportions!

Prime Characters: Beth Perry, Mace Perry, Roy Kingman

  • The sister characters have sets of contrasting & common qualities that keeps them thick & their smart, bold ways carry the trademark Baldacci stamp.
  • The story behind the death & the side-story of the other guy killed keeps the suspense intact and when things tie together, the 'awe' moment is evident for the reader to feel.
  • The tiny misunderstandings between the sisters and how it affects their views on Roy are enjoyable nuggets.
A neat taut thriller with all requisite elements intact.

Friday, April 19, 2013

ATP Top 100 - Countries Split

These are the countries that have produced the current crop of ATP Top 100 ranked players!

Two Line Reviews - #469

Movie: Talaash (2012, Hindi)

Plot: A famous actor drowns off with his car in Marine Drive in bizarre circumstances. The Officer investigating the case gets clues from unexpected circles. He also has the job of bringing his wife back to normalcy from the troublesome impact she had encountered with the loss of their son in a freaking boat accident, or so he thinks!

What Works?
  • The thrills & suspense in the talaash for evidence is maintained for a major portion of the film and that makes this Reema Kagti offering a neat work.
  • Aamir Khan does classily what is required of him without being perturbed; Nawazzudin Siddiqui lives the role of a pucca local; Kareena & Rani have a few scenes to show their acting prowess which they use quite well.
  • The score of Ram Sampath aids the Noir-ish attempt by Mohanan with the lens! The involvement of talents like Farhan Akhtar & Anurag Kashyap is evident in the purposeful & intense dialogues.
  • The track of Aamir's lost kid & the with-the-soul-speaking neighbour add eeriness to the tale.
  • Hidden Clues placed all along the movie that the film-watcher would realise after the suspense is relieved is a fine show by the writers!
What Doesn't?
  • The climax (which is the film's core) leaves one rather disappointed. The fact that the tag-line of the film is so explicit also doesn't help.
Definitely worth a watch! The climax drags the film down from its ascension to being 'exceptional'.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Two Line Reviews - #468

Movie: Gangs of वासेपुर 2 (Hindi, 2012)

Plot: It takes off from where we get left at in GoW-1. The revenge saga gets into a 3rd generation and shows how determination, scouthing & responsibility can transform a hopeless drug-addict into a huge headache for the 2 guys bossing around the big towns of Dhanbad & Wasseypur. The Pathans are not done with Sardar, they come back for more!

What Works?
  • The tale only heats up. In this part, you are comfortable with the characters and what they mean. You are much inside the film and you get to appreciate a lot more than you would GoW-1.
  • Nawazuddin Siddiqui is a revelation and his scope is a lot different from what he does in 1. His Paijal (Faizal) showing is definitely a cult character, at least for me, and would warrant repetitive watching! His expressive eyes & face language is his asset and Kashyap has feasted on it!
  • Richa Chadda, Mishra, Tigmanshu Dhulia & Zeishan Quadri (Depnet) offer instrumental supporting roles.
  • The background score of GV Prakash is more prominent in this one (catch hold of the climax track!)
  • The collaboration Sardar's sons from his two wives offer scope for entertainment & fun.
  • The climax blood-bath is a new for Indian films and is apt for a film that builds this up for more than 4 hours!
Scouthing & Bloodbath continue! A tale of how Freddy becomes Michael Corleone!

Two Line Reviews - #467

 Movie: Gangs of वासेपुर (Hindi, 2012)

Plot: In 1940s, a gutsy Pathan takes on the Qureshi head of Wasseypur and is sent out of town for his mis-deed. In Dhanbad, his lofty ambitions of killing the owner of the Coal mine and owning the business gets him killed and that sets the vengeance saga 'On'. The son of the dead Pathan seeks to avenge his father's death after years but his job gets tougher as the Dhanbad Singh & the Wasseypur Qureshis are more than a formidable duo to out-duel!

What Works?
  • The film doesn't work on you like Chloroform does, but it works like a sedative - Sets the pace slowly and takes you deep into the annules of perspectives of the dead Pathan's family. Anurag Kashyap weaves that magic to make the film deserve the 'Cult' status bestowed upon it!
  • As regards to performances, the conniving and wicked deeds of Sardar Singh are brought to the best on screen by the talented Manoj Bajpai. Richa Chadda, Piyush Mishra, Jaideep Ahlawat offer quality company to Sardar & with his sons coming up towards the end, it is hard to leave their names out as much as it is needful!
  • The native soundtracks show who Kashyap gets heavily influenced by & so does the colourful and effervescent narration!
  • Dialogues are as local and as rugged and lively as they can get. Character names like Tangent, Perpendicular etc. add style to the flow of things!
A 'Sardar Singh' version of Sonny Corleone!

Two Line Reviews - #466

Movie: Sehar (Hindi, 2005)

Plot: Organized crime runs amuck in Uttar Pradesh in the 90s. A special task force formed face a challenge of the notorious adopting technology. The STF collaborate with a professor on Cellular technology & fight against political & technical odds to nab the last and most threatening of goons.

What Works?
  • Kabeer Kaushik needs to be lauded for this well brought-out, no-nonsense affair adapted based on true incidents. Surprisingly, the film didn't make the noise it probably deserved to!
  • An apt casting led by Arshad Warsi's underplay as Cop Ajay is only strengthened by the presence of Pankaj Kapur, the menacing yet unperturbed villainy of Sushant Singh, the beauty of Mahima Chaudhary and the likes.
  • The film's camerawork is commendable, chasing the action in gripping sequences; Crisp editing, especially during the portions that explain the use of Cellular phones, & solid Backgroun score add value to the end product.
What Doesn't?
  • The ending may have been better; The train shoot--out sequence could have been shown better - The film deserved a better ending.
A Gripping Crime-thriller! Reminds one of Kaakha Kaakha in places.