What was it about Dhoni then, eh?

cup-1015644_1280As captains…

Sourav Ganguly won exactly Zero finals in tournaments that involved 4 or more teams.

MS Dhoni won 11 finals in tournaments that involved 4 or more teams.

Virat Kohli won exactly Zero finals in tournaments that involved 4 or more teams.

The Dhoni list…

2007 T20 World Cup

2010 Asia Cup

2010 IPL

2010 Champions League Twenty20

2011 ODI World Cup

2011 IPL

2013 Champions Trophy

2014 Champions League Twenty20

2016 Asia Cup

2018 Asia Cup

2018 IPL

Dhoni was also the first captain to take India to the ICC No. 1 rankings in Tests, ODIs and T20s.

A for, B for, C for…

in the Covid Era…

virus-5209059_1280A for Asymptomatic

B for Blursday

C for Covid

D for Distancing

E for Epidemic

F for Flattening the curve

G for Generation Covid

H for Herd immunity

I for Isolation

J for Jumping the vaccine line

K for Key workers

L for Lockdown

M for Mask

N for New Normal

O for Oxygen

P for Pandemic

Q for Quarantine

R for Remote learning

S for Sanitizer

T for Transmission

U for Unprecedented

V for Variant

W for WFH

X for Xi Jinping

Y for Year 1, 2, 3…

Z for Zoom

Why Djokovic’s the ultimate all-time great

Roger Federer & Rafael Nadal have 20 men’s Grand Slam singles titles each. Novak Djokovic is close on their heels with 19 titles and is the youngest of the troika at 34. He has plenty of time on his side to go way beyond both of them.

Here is a list of things where Djoko has already outdone Fed-Rafa…

Djokovic1. Djoko has beaten both Federer and Nadal in all 4 Grand Slams.

Federer has never beaten Nadal in any French Open. The two never met in the US Open. But what of Djokovic? He has beaten Federer in at least one match in the Australian Open, the French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open. Fed-Djoko have met 3 times in Wimbledon finals. Djoko leads 3-0.

Djoko beat Nadal in three straight final line-ups: 2011 Wimbledon, 2011 US Open and 2012 Australian Open. Later he beat Nadal in the quarters of the 2015 French Open and then again in the 2021 semis. That’s 4/4 Grand Slams for the 2/2 of the “greatest” players!

2. Dominates the trivalry in terms of one-on-ones.

Federer’s nemesis is Nadal. The two have met 40 times and Nadal leads a good 24-16. However it is only Djoko who has the better of all of the rivals he has played with after he came into form (he had a few failed rivalries only at the beginning of his career). Djoko and Nadal have met 58 times, which is an Open era record and Djoko leads 30-28. Anyone having 30 wins against anyone is also a men’s tennis record.

With the all-time great Federer, Djoko leads 27-23. Interestingly in 2011, he met Federer-Nadal 11 times, winning 10 of those matches! More importantly in all finals, Djokovic leads Federer 13-6 and Nadal 15-12. Did you know that only one person in Grand Slam men’s singles history has 11 losses to one player? No prizes for guessing that it’s Federer who lost to Djoko. Overall with Andy Murray its 25-11, Stan Wawrinka 19-6 and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 18-6.

Tennis balljpg3. Held all four Grand Slams at once.

Rod Laver was a legend who did a calendar Grand Slam first as an amateur in 1962, then as a professional in 1969. However after that for decades, nobody managed to win all four at a stretch. Andre Agassi became the first to do a career Grand Slam in 1999. He was emulated by Federer in 2009 and Nadal a year later.

Djoko won the following titles back to back: 2015 Wimbledon, 2015 US Open, 2016 Australian Open and 2016 French Open. In the process he became the first person since 1969 to hold all four Grand Slam titles. That’s after a good 47 years! He is also the only player in men’s tennis history to hold these Grand Slams on three different surfaces at the same time. In more all-round records, Djoko is the only player with 9+ semis and 72+ wins overall in each of the Grand Slams.

4. Two Grand Slams each.

Djoko is the only men’s player in the Open Era to have won at least 2 each of all 4 Grand Slams. He will play for a few years more and if he picks up one more French Open, then he would have won 3 in each and that could be one record which could stand for really a long time. He is also the only person in history to have entered at least 6 Grand Slam finals each.

5. Highest ATP ranking points ever.

Djoko has these short bursts where he looks near invincible. Like the time he won four straight Grand Slams. The same is with the ATP ranking points. He is the only person in history to have crossed ATP ranking points of 16000 in 2015 (if you win each and every tournament you play in a year, then you can go to 21000). To put things in perspective, when Djoko had 16950, that was more than the No. 2 + No. 3 combined (Andy Murray and Federer).

In 2015 Djoko won 3 Grand Slams, 6 masters and 11 titles. He ended the year in style winning the World Tour Finals title and became the first to win 4 straight end-of-year finals tournaments. He also created another world record that season, beating 31 Top 10 players. Earlier in 2011, when Federer and Nadal were at their peak, he won 41 straight matches, the best after John McEnroe’s 42 in 1984. He had another such burst in 2018-20.

6. The only man to win all 9 ATP World Tour Masters 1000.

After the Grand Slams and ATP Finals, these are the most prestigious tournaments and Djokovic is the only man in the world to have won all 9, called a Career Golden Masters. In fact in 2015, he won 6/9 in a single year. In the terms of ATP finals Federer has the most with 6, but Djokovic already has 5 and so well could go past him.

Dollars7. Became the first to get $100 million prize money.

There was a race between the three to get $100 million in professional tennis earnings and you never knew who would get there first. Finally it was a race between Federer and Djoko and the latter prevailed. Currently Djoko is in the range of $150 million as against $130m by Federer, which is the highest ever. In 2015 he became the only man to cross $20 million prize money in a year. Nadal’s yearly highest is $15+ million and Federer’s $13+ million.

8. Most weeks as World No. 1.

In the 1970s/1980s, Jimmy Connors spent a record 268 weeks as World Number 1. Ivan Lendl narrowly went past that with 270. Pete Sampras, who won his last singles Grand Slam in 2002, did 286. Federer did 310 and now Djoko has gone past him and is still counting (324). For year-ending No. 1s, the record 6 jointly shared by Sampras and Djoko, but the latter has time on his side. When you look at the 2010s, then weeks at No. 1, it’s Djoko 275 weeks, Nadal 159 and Federer 48.

9. King of the Hardcourt.

Nadal has a whopping 13 French Opens. Federer has 8 Wimbledons. Both stand alone there. Additionally, Federer has 5 US Opens, a record he shares with Jimmy Connors and Pete Sampras. But Djoko has made the Australian Open his own with 9 titles. At the end of his career, could he touch 13 or beyond? Who knows! Djoko also has 3 US Opens, so he could also join Connors-Sampras-Federer for the most there. If Federer is the King of Grass and Nadal the King of Clay, Djoko is the undisputed King of the Hardcourt.

(This blog first appeared on July 16, 2018. This is the updated version of the same)

The Curious Case of the Facebook Algorithm

social-media-1233873_960_720I have been on Facebook for more than a decade and have 3000 plus friends but the last few years the News Feed Algorithm has been showing me the same 25-30 friends, blanking the other 3K. I noticed sub-conciously and stopped looking at the feed for months, but would just post my articles since I am a journalist. So I decided to do an experiment. Every day I would snooze 5 of those friends for a month. Would the algorithm replace them with 5 others. It didn’t and I was down to just 5 friends after some days. I logged in all day and was shown a static feed of those 5 friends. So I snoozed those 5 and waited next day for nothing.

But no, dozens of new friends popped up who I hadn’t seen in the feed for years. So I kept up my experiment and started snoozing 5 friends a day. After a few months, I was probably seeing the posts a 100+ friends, but still not the other 3K plus. Why does Facebook do this? Why does it thrust a useless algorithm down my throat? Why can’t I see all 3K friends in real time? Because then my feed would be totally different even if I checked 10 times a day instead of becoming static if I log in 2-3 times a day. I guess it also worked the other way around as some people messaged me asking: Why weren’t you on Facebook for all these years? Also in the last few years I got practically zero friend requests. Maybe 1 a month at best. And now I am getting dozens of friend requests a day. What is the logic of that?

Silicon Valley Social Media claims to have a domain of billions of pages, billions of videos, billions of articles posted by billions of people, but it will never show you that ocean. It will take a glass from that ocean and tell you that you are allowed to see that only and nothing else.

It’s very difficult to capture power in West Bengal…

bridge-167041_960_720We had to have the violent and long-running Naxalism movement that disrupted the State forever, the political uncertainty of 1967-72, which saw many aaya ram gaya ram Chief Ministers and the sheer tyranny of Congress Chief Minister SS Ray (that shut the party out of the State forever) before the CPM could come to power.
Mamata Banerjee found herself as the Chief Opposition after the 1996, 2001 and 2006 Assembly elections (hence her stints at the Centre to bide her time) before she could claim the throne in 2011.
The BJP has just now grabbed the mantle of Chief Opposition of West Bengal in 2021.
The other side of the coin: It’s very difficult to lose power in Bengal too…
From 1947-77, 30 years, the Congress was either the Ruler or Chief Disruptor. It was a tragedy of errors that led to their exit.
The CPM ruled from 1977-2011, a record 34 years.
And even now Mamata has got three straight terms and will see herself as a favourite for 2026 too.

Covid Musings

Monalisa, Mona Lisa, Mask, PaintingProbable matrimonial ad during Covid…
Lifelong Covid negative girl seeks lifelong Covid negative boy. Boy should believe in masks and vaccines. He should have special lockdown skills like cooking, washing dishes and housekeeping. Separate TVs a must in the house for OTT.

How we will count the years from now on…
____-2018: BC (Before Covid)
2019: Year 0
2020: Year 1
2021: Year 2

Is this the New Normal…
Annual scares.
Annual waves.
Annual lockdowns.
Annual vaccinations.
Annual confusion.

Written more than a 100 years back, EM Forster’s short story “The Machine Stops” (1909) talks of an “omnipotent global machine” which takes care of all of mankind’s “bodily and spiritual needs” (The Internet? AI?). People largely message each other all the time. Communication is perfect and transportation nears zero. Most of the human population socially distance themselves and live permanently below the ground in a standardized room in the short story.
Could we be heading to something like that?
Even science fiction writer Isaac Asimov, who got many predictions right, has his Robotic Trilogy showing humankind escaping underground away from the open air of Earth.

2020 goals…
To be alive, healthy and working by the end of the year.
2021 goals…
same as above.