Planning for Christmas in September

Funny how I ended my previous post… made me look like someone who is easily distracted, haha.

We are in the last days of September… and before we know it, it’s Christmas time. Well, at least this is how many Filipinos feel. As soon as September arrives in the Philippines, radios start playing Christmas songs and houses are getting decorated. And of course, we plan for Christmas. It is weird for most but, hey, this is uniquely Filipino! Friends I know have already made a gift list, including one who has a very specific wish for Santa, a shure super 55 for his music hobby. Imagine that.

Thinking about it, preparing this early makes sense. Preparing months ahead makes it easier (because you avoid the holiday rush) and Christmas a lot less stressful. Won’t it feel great to go into the Christmas season with most of the work already done and taken care of? I thought so, too.

On the other hand, living in Cambodia this long has been great because I am spared of the usual Christmas frenzy! Sure I miss the Christmas spirit every now and then but I relish the stress-free, laid-back December here. I can’t explain the sense of relief I have every time I see news reports on TV showing jampacked malls in November and especially December, and have that little voice in my head say I don’t have to go in there myself.

My husband and I are not truly big on celebrations and gift-giving. What we are, or what we do, rather, is buy each other (and other family members) little things that we see throughout the year. This way, to us, is really a surprise and usually something we (they) truly would enjoy. I hope we’re not the only ones who feel this way. Can anybody relate to this?

An epic match!

Yes, it was every bit an epic match!

An ailing Rafael Nadal survives his second round match play against Tim Smyczek in a thrilling five-setter at the Rod Laver Arena. Yes, it was a grueling five-set match.

I don’t know about you but I would not be able to watch and sit still all that painful five-sets. Wouln’t you?
Luckily, I only caught the last set, otherwise, I would be biting-my-nails-again and clutching-my-chest-hoping-my-heart-wouldn’t-burst-out. In fact, I was too terrified to watch and see him lose in the end. I had to shoo my dogs away, especially the smallest one, because he was nibbling my ankle as if he was nibbling a tenor saxophone mouthpiece while I sat there, wriggling in my seat, watching a sweat-drenched Rafa scraping and grinding to stay in the match. He vomited at the sidelines as Rafa was feeling ill. He could’ve stopped (retired) but he didn’t.  Poor boy. I don’t know why I get so emotional every time Rafa is playing but anyone can not deny that this is what the tennis world missed when he got injured last year!

Rafa reacting on his win against Smee at the 2nd round AO15
Rafa on his knees after delivering his winning shot against Smee in the second round match at the AO2015.

To be fair to Rafa’s opponent, Tim Smyczek, who the media and Rafans baptised as Smee, he was a gentleman and his sportsmanship should be commended. And he’s got a new fan in me – what a great guy he is! Smee has a very likable attitude on court – he smiles at every point won or lost and applauds Rafa’s efforts, too. Now there are only a few players like him on ATP and I hope other players emulate him (I’m looking at you, Lukas Rosol!).

The tennis gods must be pleased with Rafa’s determination and grit. He survived – albeit barely – and lived to play another day at the Australian Open 2015. His fighting spirit is incredible, he grinds like it was his last.  And, he celebrates as if he’s already won the title when it is only the second round. How can you not admire this guy? Truly remarkable, that Rafa. This is one match I will definitely remember for a long time.

Here’s the highlights of the #smadal match last night.

To know more about the on-court drama, hear it straight from Rafa. Here’s the transcript of his post-match presser. And here’s Smee’s presser.

Random blabbers

A friend of mine is planning to sell her old desktop pc so she could get a brand new one with higher specs. I went to her house and found her saving all her files and preparing to do a hard drive wipe before putting the PC up for sale. A hard drive wipe, I learned, ensures that all your files are erased so that no one can get their hands on the files that could not be wiped out by merely deleting and formatting. That is so good to know! I never heard of it before and it’s such a relief to know that there’s a double-tap to ensure everything is completely gone from my computer drive if and when I decided to sell my PC.

So while we were going through her files, I saw this recent photo of Rafael Nadal, aka, Rafa, who recently won his 8th Roland Garros title. It’s the most titles all-time achieved by any man in any single grand slam!

 Rafael Nadal King of Clay Roland Garros
Rafa on the cover of Australian Tennis Magazine. Oh, so adorkable Rafa!

Darn it. I really want to have a copy of this. He looks so goooood in this cover. I wish I could alert someone in Australia! Lol.

It’s been two weeks since he lifted that trophy and the Rafa-fever hasn’t died down yet. Now that the green, green grass of Wimbledon is around the corner, tongues are wagging about Rafa’s chances. Some tennis “experts” give their opinions putting a lot of weight on the this year’s draw at the Wimbledon (Rafa is seeded 5th and he is in the same draw as Roger Federer, Andy Murray, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga,Lleyton Hewitt, Stan Wawrinka, et. al) But I don’t really care. Rafa has already proven that he can deal with the tough draws. Case in point, the just concluded Roland Garros tournament. Anyways, win or lose, he is still my champion!

 

A house guest and Rafael Nadal

Hi. Just a quick update from my side of the world.

The wind of change has come to our direction and there have been lots of changes in the homefront. All I can say is that they are all good.

A few weeks ago I received a word from a university roommate that she is coming to visit Cambodia and expressed her intent in staying at my house instead of a hotel. While I welcome the idea, I was hesitant because I have to ask my husband, who I shall call MisterDilis, if it is okay with him.

We have had guests in the past, including my former school pals and those who are from the Warmshowers.org, so it was a go. And in preparation for the arrival of our guest, we launched a spring cleaning of sorts, hahaha. Since it is still summer here and there are construction sites around us, we’re almost covered in dust. The frequent power cuts aren’t helping, too, as we have no power during the day. It’s a good thing MisterDilis lent a hand, a big help indeed, especially when it comes to repairing/replacing items at home. Good thing he owns a few pieces of cmm fixturing tools so it was not a big problem.

We are now 90% done with the preps. All we need are fresh beddings and I think we’re buying new ones early next week. We’re sort of in need of new ones, anyway.

In other news, my boy Rafael Nadal is through to another finals appearance at the Roland Garros. It’s Rafa’s 9th finals appearance and he is aiming for his 8th Roland Garros title.

Rafas winning moment by Rafaholics
Rafa’s winning moment. Photo by Rafaholics.com

He defeated Novak Djokovic, aka, HelmetBoi, in an incredibly testosterone-laden five set semi-finals last night. It’s so intense, with unbelievable shot-making tricks between the two, that one tennis analyst announced that it was the de-facto finals, hahaha.

The fifth set almost gave me a heart-attack! On the deciding (5th) set, each player with two set wins, and Rafa, down at 4-1, made an incredulous comeback from behind victory. I almost forgot that there was no tiebreaks on the fifth set; the first one to break the other wins the match. And Rafa, the tenacious, unrelenting, problem-solving matador from Spain, came out victorious at 9-7. Gosh, what an epic battle it was. You’d easily forget it was a semi finals match as both players fight tooth-and-nail against each other. It will go down as one of the most memorable semi final match in tennis history! This is the second time that Rafa denied HelmetBoi a shot at a Roland Garros title. Last year, these two met in the finals and, by now, you already know about last night’s match.

So tomorrow, Sunday, will be the real finals at the Roland Garros.  It’s going to be an all-Spanish final, with Rafa playing against compatriot David Ferrer. Coincidentally, this is David Ferrer’s first finals appearance after five tries, if I am not mistaken. I am pretty confident about Rafa’s chances against David. If you look at the H2H stats between the two, Rafa has a 19-4 win-loss record against David. But, I don’t trust figures that much. It’s only #InRafaWeTrust!
Well, should David win, it will be his first ever major title and, at 31 years old, he’ll be the oldest player to win so (next to Andre Agassi who, if memory serves me right, won the Australian Open in the early 2003 when he was 32). Besides, I welcome the sight of David lifting the RG trophy more than seeing HelmetBoi doing so.

It is no secret that I would love Rafa to bite and lift his 8th RG trophy. It gives him the lead in terms of the number of titles won in one major (ahead of Roger Federer and Pete Sampras who both have seven each of the Wimbledon titles to their names).

Rafael Nadal vs Grigor Dimitrov: A Narrow Escape

Wow! As in double WoW!

Rafael Nadal has survived the Baby Fed, aka Grigor Dimitrov, test.

It was a hard-fought match and either of the players deserved to win. Dimitrov’s performance impressed me. He has indeed improved and now I’ve seen why he’s called the Baby Fed.

921428_563100547044951_1380160379_o
Vamos, Rafa!

The first set was routine, with Rafa breezing through Dimitrov at 6-2.  My friend Ana and I were bantering about how we love a straightforward Rafa match no matter how boring it might be. Then the unthinkable happened… the second set happened. OMG. Ana and I were at the edge of our seats. We saw Rafa committing error after error, especially on the net. He was sluggish and his serve got broken, too. Twice.

To be honest, in this frightful moments, Ana and I often get anxious. So to avoid further distraught, we agreed to walk away from our computers for awhile hoping that the unlucky streak would disappear.  I was peeking from time to time -I could not resist – but mi amiga was firm. She was tracking via online score.When I thought that the coast was cleared of the bad vibes, I took another peek. Boy, I was wrong.  Worse, the unimaginable happened. Rafa lost the second set. Rafa lost a set! In Monte Carlo. Aaarrgggghhh.

It was a frightening realisation because we never ever entertained the thought of Dimitrov causing that much of a threat to Rafa – on a clay court – and forcing a third set  🙁  We resumed watching in the third set just as Rafa was serving and about to even the score (4-3, Dimitrov). There it was, a nagging thought of the possibility that Dimitrov would hand Rafa his first loss here in Monte Carlo since 2003. Much more, with a taped back, the nagging thought became a booming voice in my head. Was Rafa in a lot of pain? Ana and I wondered. I do not want to steal thunder from Dimitrov  (because he was at his best today) but the taped back must have contributed to Rafa’s troubles. (Also you cannot discount the fact that the weather condition {it was chilly, according to the commentators, so the ball was slower and didn’t get the bounce  as it would on a sunny weather } did not favour Rafa. So essentially Rafa was having a bad day today!) In the end, the mental toughness mattered. And Rafa prevailed, much to our great relief. I had to contain myself from screaming lest my husband kick me out of the living room. It was hard not to squeal in delight, considering the circumstances, lol.

When I think about this scary moment,  I must say that this kind of match is good for Rafa. Part of me disagrees though because I can not watch one more nail-biting match;  but another part of me thinks matches like this make him work hard against tough opponents. So yeah, even if  Dimitrov made him work more than we had anticipated, in a way it  resulted positively  in Rafa’s favour. Agree?

Tomorrow, Rafa is set to play against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. I don’t know about Rafa but I fear for him. Tsonga is a tricky player, and I just hope and pray that Rafa is not in a lot of pain!

Here’s Rafa’s postmatch interview.

[youtube]http://youtu.be/ZrgpWVihBj4[/youtube]

Rafa has only praises for Dimitrov and mentions that he needs matches like this to be able to get back to his form.
For the full match, it’s already on YouTube.

Nadal vs Dimitrov , Masters MONTE CARLO 2013 (QF): Part 1, Full Match
Nadal vs Dimitrov , Masters MONTE CARLO 2013 (QF): Part 2, Full Match

P.S. I just have to say this – Dimitrov looks like a younger version of Hugh Jackman, aka, Wolverine. Did you  notice it, too?

Photo Credit: GettyImages via Rafaholics Facebook Page

The heat is on!

Buenas noches, amigos y amigas.

I’m still here, surviving the sweltering, boiling summer heat of Phnom Penh. Summer is at its height and along with the summer heat comes the frequent powercuts. Daily. Well, I do acknowledge that I live in a developing country and power cuts at this time of the year is quite understandable, if not expected. However, I wish that the power supply company, aka the Electricite du Cambodge, be kind enough to issue a power interruption schedule of sorts so that us consumers can plan ahead and make arrangements. I myself work at home and my only lifeline to my employers is the Internet. Without power, I am left without nothing.

Amigos y amigas, you cannot imagine how hot it is here. We are sweating like tennis players, I kid you not. Once we had a power cut that started in the wee hours of the night, our pillows were soaking wet that I and my husband had to use my yoga bolsters instead. Yes, it’s that bad.

Speaking about tennis… my boy Rafael Nadal’s recent return to the tennis tour is also generating a lot of heat! That’s good heat, for your information. He’s been absent for nearly 10months due to a knee injury, missing the London Olympics and the US Open. But now that he’s back… well, we his fans couldn’t have asked for a better comeback. Winning the tournaments in Acapulco and Indian Wells! How’s that?

After the Indian Wells tournament in California, Rafa decided to skip the Sony Open in Miami as per his doctor’s advise. He needs to rest his knees in preparation to the most exciting season of all, the clay season on European soil. A little later today, Rafa’s compatriot David Ferrer is going to play against Andy Murray in the men’s final event of the Sony Open. Can Ferru beat Muzzah to win his first ever ATP 1000 title and make history? We’ll find out. Por supuesto, I am rooting for Ferru. Vamos!

But before I go, while Rafa is on vacation, I’ve been watching his past tournaments to fill my Rafa “cravings”. I came across this video of Rafa’s unbelievable gamepoints against his friend Juan Monaco, in their Davis Cup finals match. I can only think of the word “unbelievable” to describe Rafa.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=fqGgCicuo3c[/youtube]

Rafa, without a doubt, is one of the best – if not the best – ball retrievers there is on the tennis planet. If that points didn’t convince you, then you must be a rock.

A big huzzah for Muzzah!

Okay, okay. In my previous post I did say I was going to do the dougie. But for the life of me I do not know how to so I’m sending someone else to do it for me. As you can see, he is doing it with much gusto! Lol.

Troll-face dancing the dougie in celebration of Andy Murray's Olmpic gold!

Why dance, you might ask? Well because it’s a promise I made to myself and my imaginary readers that I’d so so in the event that someone other than Roger Federer wins the gold. And boy, it happened… so there..

In case you haven’t heard yet, Team GB’s Andy Murray thrashed Swtizerland’s Roger Federer in the men’s single’s finals at the Olympic Games on Sunday night. It was a very convincing three-set win – 6-2, 6-1, 6-4. I was really satisfied to see Roger Federer’s dream gold medal turn into silver.

For the first time since 1908, Andy became the first Briton to win the Olympic singles gold and the first Briton to claim an Olympic men’s singles medal since the 1920 event in Antwerp. Destroying Roger Federer, the current world number one and touted as the GOAT, and Novak Djokovic, the world number two and bronze medalist in Beijing,  this year in the Olympics, in the hallowed grounds of Wimbledon in his home turf is a remarkable achievement for Andy who has yet to win a Grand Slam title. This must be the push that he needed, the turning point of his career

I’m not an Andy Murray fan but I’m beginning to be impressed. If he continues to improve his performance he’ll be sure to get that GS title of his career! So, I’m actually looking forward to see him at the US Open next month! By then, my boy Rafael Nadal will be in form and ready to play.

***
ClipArt Source

Bula, bula, Fiji!

I was re-arranging our DVD shelf when I came across a music CD from Fiji. It was given to me by a Fijian who I met at a conference in Sri Lanka.

I hadn’t listened to it in a very long time so I put it on play  right away. Listening to the songs I was instantly lulled by the sweet, melancholic sound that came from the  divine stringed instruments  – guitar, ukelele, and mandolin – that characterized the music from this exotic island. It is like listening to the gentle sound of the waves and the swaying of the coconut palm fronds. I think musicians should revert back to using authentic musical instruments rather than electronically or digitally-produced sounds that are common these days.

For sure Mr. Fiji gained a lot of admirers. Photo from DippedCream.com.

Oh, and speaking of Fiji, I watched the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games last week and I was ooh-ing and aah-ing at the youthful, gorgeous faces and bodies of the athletes. One of which is this judoka from Fiji. Darn. Them exotic islands make exotic men 🙂

Can you imagine him serenading you with Fijian songs? I can. I’ll offer to buy not just the cheapest strings for guitar or his instrument of choice as long as this eye-candy plays me Fijian songs all day long. Erlack, did I just say that? Lol.

No mo’ blues!

I’m currently having the blues after my boy, Rafa, lost to his compatriot Fernando Verdasco for the first time in the third round of the on-going ATP Mutua Madrid Open. It was awful and painful to watch – and I need this to vent – because it seemed he wasted a 5-2 lead in the third set. I’m so upset that I can’t even concentrate finishing a leather dyeing stuff that I started since this morning.  But as we all know, things like this happen to any player and if this happens they cannot explain what really happened themselves!

No mo' blues, Rafa! Photo Credit: Rafaholics Facebook Page

I know Rafa’s been vocal against the blue clay court and I suspect that his aversion or negativity towards the new court have, subconsciously,  affected his focus and performance. But, he’s not totally alone in expressing their distaste. David Ferrer, Novak Djokovic, to name a few, aren’t happy about it, too, so I hope the organizers should re-evaluate. As a tennis fan and avid-watcher, I find it weird having a blue colour knowing clay is red. I don’t think the blue court has made the yellow tennis ball more visible when watching the matches on TV. Perhaps, it’s my TV set? Lol. But, seriously, we all know Rafa, he is not blaming the blue clay for his loss:

“I lost today because I deserve to lose. I was at 5-2, I arrived at the moment to close the match and I didn’t know how to close it, I didn’t know how to do it. I made a big mistake with my match at 5-2. That’s what happened. He played better than me.”

That’s alright, Rafa.

I just hope that you really, really had a bad day because I had never seen you play very, very badly in clay court – ever. While, in the beginning of the tournament, I was looking forward to see you play in the finals and bite that trophy again, I’m glad your run was cut short, injury-free. That should give you more time to rest, recuperate and prepare for the tournament in Rome, and more importantly, the Roland Garros where the court is in original and beautiful red clay.

On this note, I say, I have no mo’ blues anymo’!

 

Australian Open Update: Rafael Nadal going to the AO finals!

Spain’s Rafael Nadal ended Roger Federer’s dream of winning another major title!
Friday night’s semi-final clash between the two – touted as the biggest showdown of this year’s Australian Open, proved that Rafa was too strong for Roger, despite the latter’s claim that while he “cannot compete with Rafa on clay, he will never ever  let that guy beat me on another surface again.” Then came the Australian Open’s semis… a big whoooopss! *Hand slaps the forehead*

Rafa's backhand and back end, lol. Nice view.

I guess this Swiss former world number one thinks he can still take back the top spot despite not having won any major titles in recent years and the swirling issues related to his age. Here’s another quote from the presser:

From Steve Tignor via Twitter:
How do you keep your equilibrium after a loss like that?
Fed: “I haven’t lost in five months, don’t feel too sorry for me.”

Wadda..

As if not enough, here’s another one:

“Nadal always play better against me than against others.”
Here’s the complete article where the quote was taken. It’s translated from Croatian.

Ouch, I think we all know who he is referring to. But isn’t he just sour-graping?

Enough already. So anyway, Rafa is set to play the finals against Novak Djokovic.
Although I am really scared for Rafa – errrm, why? am I  his mum? lol – I think this will really  be a great test for both. Djokovic, pushed up to the fifth set by Andy Murray in tonight’s other semifinals, will defend his title. Rafa, on the other hand, who’s campaign in last year’s AO was cut short due to an injury and was beaten in three majors last year by Djokovic, will be avenging those defeats.

So who will win? May the better player win. And that, in my mind, is Rafael Nadal. Vamos, Rafa!

Photo Credit:
Australian Open Facebook Photo Album (Federer v Nadal – 26th January 2012)