Sunday/ congrats to Spain 🇪🇸

Wimbledon 2024 is in the books, as is the Euro Cup 2024.
It was a good day for Spain in the international sports arena.

First Carlos Alcaraz ( (🇪🇸, 21 yrs old) won his second Wimbledon title in straight sets over Novak Djokovic (🇷🇸 , 37).
The score was 6-2, 6-2, 7-6(4).
Shortly after that, Spain 🇪🇸 beat England 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 2-1 in the Euro Cup 2024 Final.

Posted by Bastian Fachan @BastienFachan on X.
Rod Laver (🇦🇺, 85) won 11 Grand Slam singles titles and remains the last man to win all four of the  biggest tournaments in the sport (Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, US Open) in a single calendar year (1969).

Tuesday/ here’s Wimbledon 🎾

Wimbledon 2024 is underway.
The world’s top tennis players are resplendent in their bright whites (no colored attire allowed), and their pimple-soled white grass court shoes.

On Monday, reigning Wimbledon champion Carlos Alcaraz (🇪🇸, 21) took on qualifier Mark Lajal (🇪🇪, 21), and came out on top in straight sets 7-6(3), 7-5 and 6-2.

I was wrong about Djokovic (🇷🇸, 37) : he is in fact playing, with a knee brace (he had meniscus surgery on Jun. 6). In the first round he took out Vit Kopriva (🇨🇿, 27) with ease, 6-1, 6-2, 6-2.

Here are Alcaraz and Lajal, deadlocked at 6-6, and in the first set tiebreaker.
There is no kitchen* in tennis.
You can go right up to the net— as long as you have the reactions of a cat, and especially so if your opponent is up there as well.
Alcaraz does (have the reactions of a cat), and got his racquet on this hard ball from Lajal. It went up in the air, though, and Lajal put it out of his reach on the next shot.
That made it 3-3 in the tiebreaker, but then Alcaraz took four points in a row to close out the tiebreaker 7-3.
*A zone by the net from which volleying is forbidden
[Still from highlights of the match at]

Sunday/ taking the crown at Queens 👑

Tommy Paul (🇺🇸, 27) played spectacular tennis today in London to beat Lorenzo Musetti  (🇮🇹, 22 ) in the men’s final of the 2024 Queen’s Club Championships.

The qualifying tournament for Wimbledon starts tomorrow, and the main tournament starts Jul 1.
Carlos Alcaraz (🇪🇸, 21 ) is the favorite to win the men’s 2024 Wimbledon crown —even though he was not at his best here; he lost in the quarter-final at Queens, against Jack Draper (🇬🇧, 22).
Novak Djokovic (🇷🇸, 37) had knee surgery just two weeks ago— and I don’t believe he will play.
Rafael Nadal (🇪🇸, 38 ) has already confirmed that he will not play at Wimbledon this year, so that he can better compete in the 2024 Olympics.

That’s a king-sized trophy, for sure!
Tommy Paul will see his ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals) ranking improve to No 13 come Monday, making him the new top US men’s player on the circuit.
[Post from Queen’s Club Championships on Instagram]

Friday/ playing indoors 🥒

Although the weather was perfect for pickleball today, we had a reservation for the Sandman’s Courts in Columbia City.
We liked the clean surface and well-marked lines a lot.
The selection of background music was excellent and played at just the right volume 🤗.

The amigos played at Sandman’s Courts in Columbia City today.
The facility has two pickleball courts. This one has clean lines, and the other pickleball court has equally clear pickleball lines but also basketball courts lines painted on it.

Wednesday/ pickleball— now also inside 🥒

The amigos played a little pickleball today.
The courts at Mt Baker playground were full today, and we went to Beacon Hill playground instead.

The courts at Beacon Hill playground have beautiful new surfaces and lines.
These courts are just a little more exposed to windy conditions than the ones at Mt Baker playground.
There was a sign up on the fence at Beacon Hill courts, advertising this indoor space in Columbia City, and we went to take a look at it afterwards.
This facility is called Sandman’s Courts— a converted warehouse that now has two beach volleyball (sand) courts, on the far end, and these two pickleball courts.
Yay! Now we can play in rain or shine, rough or fine weather.
These are not free the way the courts at the public parks are— $30 an hour in the daytime for these indoor courts.

Sunday/ cricket on Long Island 🏏

They roared at every big play, shouting and waving signs and flags. They ate South Asian food sold at the concession stands, jumped, chanted, high-fived with fellow supporters and — after a bit of rain — soaked up the sunshine on a historic day at the usually quiet park.

“It was electric,” said Chandu Talla, an India fan and entrepreneur from Tampa, Fla., who came to the match with his son Aryan, a high school junior. “We paid $2,500 per ticket and no regrets,” he added. “It was a dream come true to see India here.”
– David Waldstein reporting for the New York Times, from a temporary stadium for 34,000 set up in the grassy southeastern corner of Eisenhower Park in Long Island.

The temporary stadium was built in 3 months for the biannual T20 Cricket World Cup match between perennial archrivals India and Pakistan. India started slow but came back strong to win, 119-113. [Picture from the online edition of New York Times].
The stadium in East Meadow, N.Y., was built in 100 days and will be taken apart after the tournament. There are three more matches scheduled in New York, with the final one on Wednesday between India and the United States. The stadium will then be dismantled and the pieces sent out to other sporting events around the country.
[Photo by Yuvraj Khanna for The New York Times]

Friday/ a new rivalry 🎾

There is a new rivalry in men’s tennis: between Jannik Sinner (🇮🇹, 22) and Carlos Alcaraz (🇪🇸, 21).

The rivals met today in the men’s semi-final of the 2024 French Open.
It was a see-saw match that had Alcaraz emerge the victor after trailing two sets to one: Alcaraz 2-6, 6-3, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3.
Alcaraz leads Sinner by 5 wins to 4 in their head-to-head matches so far.

On Sunday, Alcaraz will play against Alexander (Sacha) Zverev ( 🇩🇪, 27) in the final.
It will be the first French Open men’s final without Rafael Nadal or Novak Djokovic since 2009.
It’s the first without Nadal, Djokovic or Roger Federer since 2004.

Update Sun 6/9: Alcaraz outlasted Zverev to won his first French title: Alcaraz 6-3, 2-6, 5-7, 6-2, 6-2.

The shadows are starting to creep over the red clay inside the Philippe Chatrier Stadium at the Roland Garros grounds.
It’s the fifth and final set, almost 4 hours into the match.
Sinner is rapidly running out of time to catch up after losing his serve early in the set. (Alcaraz is about to go up 4-1.)
Here, Alcaraz had just served hard into the far corner, drawing Sinner out sideways for the return.
The return was short.
Alcaraz lifted up his racquet as if to hit, but then cut under the ball for a surprise dropshot that kissed the top of the net, wrong-footing Sinner, and out of reach.
[Still frame from Tennis Channel streaming video feed].

Saturday/ tennis in Lyon 🎾

Giovanni Mpetshi Perricard (20,  🇫🇷 ) cut through tie-break tension to complete a dream week and lift his maiden ATP Tour title in the city of his birth Saturday at the Open Parc in Lyon, France.

Roared on by a vocal Lyon crowd, the 20-year-old wild card battled past sixth seed Tomas Martin Etcheverry 6-4, 1-6, 7-6(7) in a dramatic championship match at the ATP 250. Mpetshi Perricard was a point away from defeat at 6/7 in the deciding-set tie-break but held firm for a famous two-hour, 29-minute win in just his fourth tour-level event.
– As reported on

Mpetshi Perricard, 20, will enter the top 100 for the first time on Monday at a career-high No 66 after his dream week in Lyon.

All eyes in the world of tennis now turn to Stade Roland Garros, Paris, where the French Open starts tomorrow.
Rafael Nadal (37-almost 38, 🇪🇸) is playing on Monday:  against No. 4 seed Alexander (Sacha) Zverev (27, 🇩🇪). It may just be Nadal’s last match at the tournament that he had won 14 times in the past.

Update Mon 5/27: Nadal lost in straight sets against Zverev, but did not rule out after the match that he will not be back to compete here again. (Sooner rather than later, that is. The tennis matches for the upcoming 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris will be played in the Stade Roland Garros, and he should be able to represent Spain).

Mpetshi Perricard in action on Thursday in the quarterfinal match against compatriot Hugo Gaston.
[Picture posted on]

Saturday/ Mystik Dan by a nose 🏇

Congrats to the owner and team for Mystik Dan, the winner of the 150th Kentucky Derby, by a nose.

Run, horsies, run!
These are wildebeest, actually: large African antelopes of the family Bovidae.
From an updated issue of the 1926-27 London Pictorial definitive series (the first series of stamps were printed in London, thereafter by South Africa government printers in Pretoria) 
Issued Jan. 1950
Perf. 15×14 | Screened rotogravure | Afr. & Eng. inscriptions for South Africa | Wmk Multiple Springbok heads
SG120 13 | 1 shilling | Brown & chalky blue | Black and blue wildebeest
[Source: 2016 Stanley Gibbons Stamp Catalogue- Commonwealth & British Empire Stamps]

Wednesday/ the red clay of Barcelona 🎾

Rafael Nadal (37, 🇪🇸) was back on the court again today at the Barcelona Open.
His comeback from hip and abdominal injuries after three months was ended by Alex de Minaur (25, 🇦🇺), though.
The 12-time champion got a standing ovation as he waved goodbye to the Barcelona Open— for possibly the final time.

Here’s Jonathan Jurejko reporting for BBC Sport:
Nadal is hoping to be fit enough to make a return to the French Open, where he won a record 14 men’s singles titles, next month, and suggested he was preserving his energy for Roland Garros during the latter stages of the De Minaur match.
“On a personal level, for what is to come, the 6-1 in the second set is what had to happen today,” he said.
“It wasn’t today that I had to give everything and die. I have to give myself the chance to do that [at the French Open] in a few weeks, or at least try to.”

Nadal (near side) rips a shot cross-court, and Alex de Minaur could not get this one.
De Minaur is known for his athleticism, though. He held his own and then some, and caught Nadal with several drop shots.
Final Score: De Minaur wins 7-5 6-1.
[Still shot from Tennis TV streaming service]

Sunday/ the tennis in Monaco 🎾

Monégasque (say “mon-i-gask”)
a native or inhabitant of Monaco
of or relating to Monaco or its inhabitants.

The 2024 clay season for men’s tennis is in full swing.
Today was a beautiful Monégasque clear spring day at the Monte-Carlo Country Club— where Stefanos Tsitsipas (25, 🇬🇷) squared off against Casper Ruud (25, 🇩🇰) for the title match of the 117th annual Monte Carlo Rolex Masters tennis tournament.
Tsitsipas emerged as the winner 6-1 6-4, winning his third title there.

A beaming Tsitsipas posing with Charles Leclerc— is a Monégasque racing driver, currently racing in Formula One for Scuderia Ferrari.
I don’t follow Formula 1 racing, but Leclerc has caught the attention of F1 fans since becoming the youngest member of Ferrari’s team in 2019, landing a role in his early 20s, says People magazine.
[Picture posted on X @leclercdata]
Yes, the beautiful people were out in full force at the tennis.
Charles Leclerc with his girlfriend Alexandra Saint Mleux, a 21-year-old Art History student from Italy.
[Picture posted on X @leclercdata]

Saturday/ midnight in Miami 🌴

It’s midnight in Miami, and there is still action on the tennis court at the 2024 Miami Open.

As I write this, Gaël Monfils (37, 🇫🇷 ) had just taken the second set, playing against Jordan Thompson (29, 🇦🇺) in the second round of the 2024 Miami Open. So they have to play a deciding set.
P.S. There are no bleary-eyed line judges. All line calls are by an electronic line-calling (ELC) system. These systems use a combination of cameras, computers, algorithms, and microphones to track and calculate the trajectory of the ball, and determine if it landed in or out of bounds.
The winner of this match will take on Carlos Alcaraz (20, 🇪🇸) in round three.
Update 3/24: Monfils won 7-6 6-1 6-2 and will play against Alcaraz on Monday.

Tuesday/ tennis in the desert 🎾

All right, it’s time for a quick update on the happenings at the Indian Wells 2024 men’s tennis tournament.

Raphael Nadal (37, 🇪🇸) had actually withdrawn from the tournament before it even started, simply stating that he was not physically ready to play again at the highest level. Will he play French Open in May? We don’t know.

World No 1 Novak ‘No Vac’ Djokovic (36, 🇷🇸) was back for the first time in four years, only to fall to ‘lucky loser’ Luca Nardi (20, 🇮🇹) in the third round.
(A lucky loser is a player given a spot in the main draw even though he lost in the final round of the qualifying tournament).

Daniil Medvedev (28, His Country Invaded Ukraine— but not his fault) and Holger Rune (20, 🇩🇰) are the likeliest from the top half of the draw to make it to the final on Sunday.
In the bottom half it will be Indian Wells 2023 champ Alcaraz (20, 🇪🇸), Jannik Sinner (22, 🇮🇹) and Alexander Zverev (26, 🇩🇪) battling it out for a spot in the final.

Update Sun 3/19: It was Alcaraz vs. Medvedev in the Men’s Final, with Alcaraz winning 6-3, 6-2.

Carlos Alcaraz (20, Spain) smacking back a forearm, in his pink and blue outfit that he seems to wear for every match lately.
After today’s win against Fábián Marozsán (24, Hungary), he wrote ‘TUDUM’ on the camera lens with his marker, and I looked up the word in vain on Google Translate. But no, it’s not a Spanish word. It’s an international onomatopoeia slang term, derived from the double chime as Netflix starts up. Apparently it means ‘Stay Tuned’.
[Picture posted by Carlos Alcaraz @carlosalcaraz on X].

Monday/ Rafa is back, again 🇪🇸

I’m not the best player in the history of tennis. I think I am among the best, that’s true. That’s enough for me.
– Rafael Nadal, Mar. 2023

The second big tennis tournament of 2024 has started: the Indian Wells Open in California. Celebrated veteran and champion Rafael Nadal (Spain, 37) is back after missing the Australian Open due to a hip injury.

Rafael Nadal is seeking a fourth Indian Wells tournament win here, but faces a very tough draw (assuming the seeded players win their matches):
R1 – Raonic
R2 – Rune
R3 – Shapovalov/Musetti
R4 – Fritz/Baez
QF – Medvedev/Dimitrov
SF – Djokovic/Hurkacz
F – Alcaraz/Sinner/Zverev/ Rublev

I didn’t pay attention to the news in tennis and missed the first ‘Netflix Slam’, an exhibition match held in Las Vegas yesterday at the Mandalay Bay resort. Lucky for me, Netflix posted it for me to watch tonight.
This match featured Rafael Nadal and the other already-famous young Spaniard, Carlos Alcaraz (20).

Superbowl Sunday 🏈

Chiefs become first team in 20 years to win back-to-back Super Bowls
LAS VEGAS — The NFL has a repeat champion for the first time in 19 years. The Kansas City Chiefs, with a third Super Bowl triumph in five seasons, cemented the league’s modern-day dynasty with a 25-22 overtime win against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.

This one, the same as the last two for Kansas City and its superstar quarterback Patrick Mahomes, came with a stirring second-half comeback and, this time, with some late heroics in overtime.

Jake Moody’s 27-yard field goal on the first possession of overtime put the 49ers ahead 22-19, but the Chiefs responded with a 13-play, 75-yard drive and won it on 3-yard touchdown pass from Mahomes to Mecole Hardman.
– Zak Keefer, National Staff Writer for The Athletic

Overtime is over, and the game is over, and the usual pandemonium erupts onto the field.
The confetti is real. The purple oysters shooting green slime onto the field are from cartoon channel Nickelodeon, as are Spongebob SquarePants and his foil Patrick Star (an overweight coral-pink starfish), in the bottom left corner.
Superstar Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (28).

Sunday/ a new champion 🥕

Congratulations to Jannik Sinner (Italian, 22), the 2024 Australian Open Men’s Singles champion. It’s his first Grand Slam title.

Sinner rallied back from two sets down, to outlast Daniil Medvedev 3-6, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-3. Medvedev was definitely the underdog, since he had lost his past three matches against Sinner.

Picture from the Australian Open website. The carrots are a nod to Sinner’s red-orange hair.

Friday/ the last of the year’s pro tennis 🎾

The hard indoor courts in Turin are ‘fast’— very different from Alcaraz’s home turf of red clay.
Still, he showed by winning Wimbledon on grass this year that he can adapt rapidly to new court conditions.
A two-time Grand Slam champion and already fabulously rich at age 20, I just hope he keeps the fire in his belly and will be able to play for another 10 years without a career-ending injury.

There is spectacular men’s tennis on display in Turin, Italy, this week.
It is the last of the year: the world’s top eight players squaring off in the ATP Nitto Finals.
The semifinals are tomorrow.
Jannik Sinner (Italy, 22) plays Daniil Medvedev, from a country non grata*, 27)
Carlos Alcaraz (Spain, 20) plays Novak Djokovic (36, Serbia).
*The one that invaded Ukraine. When will that terrible war end?

Update Sat 11/18: Well, winning the ATP Finals was not to be, for Alcaraz this year. He lost 3-6, 2-6. It will be Sinner and Djokovic in the final.

Saturday/ on top of the world 🏉 🇿🇦

Bok, bok, staan styf
Hoeveel vingers op jou lyf?

(An Afrikaans rhyme from a children’s game.
Loosely translated, it says
‘Bok, bok, hold still.
What number of fingers do you feel?
Four! says the Bok).

Top: Reporting in The Observer/ The Guardian by Robert Kitson at the Stade de France.
Cartoon by South African cartoonist Dr Jack. One more stripe can now be added under the Rugby World Cup trophy on the Bok’s sleeve.
The event takes place every four years, and South Africa has now won four times: 1995, 2007, 2019, 2023. The first RWC was held in 1987 and other past winners are: New Zealand (3 times), Australia (twice) and England (once).

Saturday/ another win for the green & gold 🏉

Congratulations to the Bokke from South Africa, coming from behind and notching a 16-15 win against England, in today’s 2023 World Rugby Cup semi-final.
New Zealand’s All Blacks easily dispatched the Argentinian team by 44-6 in the other semi-final on Friday.
The final is next Saturday, in the Stade de France stadium, in Paris.

Handre Pollard of South Africa kicks his side’s second penalty during the 2023 Rugby World Cup semi-final against England. The only try (‘touch down’) of the match came in the 69th minute, when South Africa’s replacement lock RG Snyman went over the line.  
[Photograph: Adam Pretty/World Rugby/Getty Images]

Thursday/ ‘I’ in Japanese 🏯

Here is Eric Margolis writing for the Japan Times (just the introduction of a long article):
You may have learned that “I” is 私 (watashi). And while this is a handy all-around term to use when referring to yourself, a 2019 survey showed that over 30% of Japanese women and around 70% of Japanese men don’t regularly use it.
To make things even more confusing, people do or don’t use 私 entirely depending on the situation. While 80% of women in their 50s expected to use 私 to address colleagues or acquaintances their own age, just 30% expected to use it for people they met for the first time. Meanwhile, 60% of men in their 50s expected to use it when meeting a young person for the first time. But that percentage dropped to 40% of the time when they were meeting someone their own age.
Japanese dictionaries and resources list over 30 different words for just one in English: “I”. Every word expresses different nuances about how the speaker views themselves and what their relationship is to the person they’re speaking with. There’s わたし (watashi), わたくし (watakushi), あたし (atashi), 僕 (boku), 吾輩 (wagahai), 俺 (ore), うち (uchi), 儂 (washi), 麿 (maro) and 自分 (jibun), just to name a few. So how to know which one to use?

P.S. I would have loved to be in Japan right now, at the tennis courts watching some Japan Open tennis action.

Posted by The Japan Times on X, today.