The Week That Was

Tubelight has stuttered its way to becoming one of Salman Khan’s “weakest hits” in a decade. Meanwhile, the only Hollywood films releasing this week are the ones that are currently giving great hope to many American film critics. The Big Sick, a sweet rom-com based on its Pakistani writer-actor Kumail Nanjiani’s courtship with now-wife Emily Gordon, is being hailed as the year’s indie darling so far. And then there’s Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver, an outrageously original heist musical, that’s winning hearts. Entertainment’s reality-show cousin –sports – too has had a busy week indeed.

Here are some of the highlights of the week:

Cloud Nine
Roger Federer
bounced back from a first-round upset on grass at Stuttgart to win his ninth Halle title. It wasn’t so much the number as it was the manner in which he went through the week. He didn’t lose a single set, and destroyed future World no. 1 Alexander Zverev in the final on home turf. The fourth title of the year seals Federer as the number three seed for Wimbledon ahead of rival Rafael Nadal. He will now start as the stand-alone favorite to win his eighth Wimbledon title. Last year, he had limped out of the tournament, after his sapping five-set loss to Milos Raonic in the semifinals. He had saved match points and defeated Marin Cilic in the quarterfinals, though he will now know that the Croatian is again in top form. Meanwhile, Novak Djokovic, falling star and World no. 4, is playing a rare pre-Wimbledon warm-up event – but not at Queens or Halle, but at Eastbourne, the ATP250 grass-court tournament.

Indian Summer
23-year-old Ramkumar Ramnathan, a tall Indian singles tennis player with a booming serve, took Antalya by storm. He defeated World no. 8 Dominic Thiem (who had defeated Nadal on clay in Rome), before going the distance against Marcos Baghdatis and losing in three tight sets. Ramnathan – the 222 ranked player in the world – won the first around against the World No. 68 and second against World No. 8. He finally lost to No. 78 ranked Baghdatis (who was once ranked as high as 8, and reached the 2005 Australian Open final against Federer).

The Real World Cup
The Women’s World Cup has been underway in England. Australia and England have shared 9 out of the 10 World Cup trophies between them, with New Zealand being the only aberration back in 2000. Defending champions Australia are again on top of the table, winning their first two games. They showcased two awesome batting efforts against Sri Lanka – first by Chamari Atapattu, who scored 178 out of her team’s total of 257, and then by Meg Lanning who did another 152 to win her team the match easily. But the story so far has been the Indian women’s strong start to the World Cup. Under Captain Mithali Raj, they defeated superpower England by 35 runs in the first upset of the tournament. Then they rolled over a weak West Indian side by seven wickets to put them level at the top with Australia. With all the teams already having played two games each, West Indies, Sri Lanka and Pakistan remain winless. On July 2, the India takes on Pakistan in what promises to be a feisty encounter, and hopefully more competitive than the recent Champions Trophy final between their male counterparts. The biggest match of the tournament – between Australia and England – will take place on 9th of July.

Kidambi Rises Further
Indian badminton star Srikanth Kidambi rose to No. 8 in the rankings, after winning back-to-back Masters Series tournaments at Indonesia and Australia. Kidambi’s purple patch comes after a prolonged period out of the game with an injury, similar to Roger Federer’s 2017 streak. His biggest win of the two weeks came in the Australian Open final, when he defeated Olympic champion Chen Long in straight games. On his way there, he beat a host of top-10 players. He has now won three Super Series titles.

F1 Turns Nasty
All the friendliness and “mutual respect” between this year’s front runners Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel has finally disappeared. It was only a matter of time when Hamilton is involved in a title fight. The Azerbaijan Grand Prix was the first time this season neither of the two finished on the podium (Vettel came fourth, Hamilton fifth). Vettel clipped Hamilton in a move that the Brit thought was deliberate. He is now under investigation by the FIA for more than just a 10-second drive-through penalty he was given during the race. It could be a fine or even a single-race ban, depending on how the investigation goes. Hamilton responded furiously, calling his opponent “immature” amongst other things – opening up the season for a rivalry that could be bitterer than what Hamilton previously shared with Fernando Alonso and Nico Rosberg. Alonso never reached the heights of his glory days, and Rosberg retired after defeating Hamilton in the 2016 season. Vettel is a four-time champion who is finally tasting success again after four years with a competitive car. He has tasted blood, and will not be backing off anytime soon, especially given that Hamilton – unlike the other cases – is not his teammate. Vettel leads Hamilton by 17 points in the Drivers’ Championship after eight races.

Rahul Desai: