Sunday, May 31, 2009

No tobacco... and no Nadal

It’s No Tobacco Day today. And effective from today, all tobacco products packages in India will have to carry pictorial warnings of the harmful effects of tobacco. It’s mandatory, and violations will land manufacturers in trouble (Rs 5,000 fine or imprisonment of two years) as well as retailers (Rs 1,000 fine and imprisonment of two years). So, it’s getting more difficult for smokers. A good thing, too, considering that tobacco is one of the biggest causes of cancer and death. However, to the government’s credit, it must be said that, through publicity campaigns and rules and their enforcement, a lot has happened in the past few years to reduce cigarette smoking in public places. Smoking inside trains, for instance, has almost stopped, remarkable for a country of India’s size.

Today also marks the end of Rafael Nadal’s 31-match winning streak at the Roland Garros clay courts. Nadal was looking for his fifth consecutive French Open title and breaking Borg’s record. But that didn’t happen. Nadal will have to come back and win three more to beat the legendary Swede’s record of six French titles. Interestingly, it was a Swede who got rid of him today – Robin Soderling, the 23rd seed, who many would not even have heard of. The Swede’s huge forehand and serve sent Nadal packing. Does this mean good news for Federer? It does. If Federer can keep his wits about him and play his natural game, he could just add a Grand Slam title that has been eluding him for months now.

Sticking with tennis, the New York Times reports that three-time Wimbledon and four-time United States Open champion John McEnroe is keen on starting a youth academy for tennis and is in touch with the United States Tennis Association (USTA), which already has a training facility, the Evert Tennis Academy. The good news for McEnroe is that USTA is establishing a new facility near the Billie Jean King National Tennis Centre, and McEnroe could use that space. His brother Patrick, the NYT says, is general manager of the elite player development programme. That should be an added bonus.

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