26 January 2018

The GOAT, AO2018 and 20th Grand Slam

The GOAT, AO 2018 and 20th Grand Slam
                                                                                  -----   Maj Gen PK Mallick, VSM (Retd)

The final stages of AO 2018 has arrived. Cilic has reached the finals. The mouth watering contest between the nextgen champion Hyeon Chung, the Professor from South Korea and the GOAT, unarguably in my book, will be in Friday afternoon, being a holiday I cannot miss. The Swiss star is the out-right favourite to win the competition but world number 58 Chung stands in his way of a final showdown against Marin Cilic.

In the remaining semifinals the latest heart throb of South Korea, Hyeon Chung, Next Gen prodigy they’re calling mini-Novak, will be across the net. And in the most ironic of twists, it was Hyeon Chung who sent Djokovic on his way in the fourth round here, out-elasticking his elastic-limbed hero in a stupendous display of scrambling, hustling, counterpunching tennis earlier this week. Make no mistake, a star is emerging. Chung, 21 years old and has never been in the last four of a slam before. But good judges expect him to be in the top 10 before the year’s out.

After upsetting six-time Australian champion Open Novak Djokovic in straight sets became the first South Korean to advance to a grand slam quarter-final. But it wasn’t just the calibre of the opponent that won over a new legion of fans, it was the matter in which the game was won. The braces-wearing, bespectacled world is winning hearts with his boyish innocence, speed, athleticism and freakish retrieval skills. His unbelievable movement has even drawn comparisons with Djokovic, while his fearless ball-striking has delighted the spectators inRod Laver Arena. 

Chung, according to coach Neville Godwin, succeeded in “out-Djokovic-ing Novak Djokovic”. “There are definite similarities, he’s incredibly flexible, moves very well, does the splits most of the time ... but you could argue he [Chung] has got more firepower from the back, he can pull the trigger a bit more. I don’t want him running around too far back behind the court. I’d like to see him use his phenomenal speed to get to the net more.” Hyeon Chung had taken out fourth seed Alexander Zverev in the third round and then disposed of Novak Djokovic in such thrilling style. There were fears that Chung might suffer a dip after two such marquee wins, but he kept his focus in the quarters and disposed of the American Tennys Sandgren in straight sets. Chung has been punching above his weight all fortnight. 

The South Korean will need to try and get into his opponents head claim a shock win. “I think if he starts well and gets inside Federer’s head he will have a chance,” an expert says. “The danger for Federer is he thinks he has already won it. “Nadal is out, Djokovic is out, Murray is not even here. Maybe it’s all too easy for him - that’s the thing he has to be aware of.” These two have never actually played before, but Novak Djokovic has a winning record against Federer, and Chung beat Djokovic on Monday so that makes him the favourite today right? Right?

Even Federer has been impressed. "I'm very excited to play Chung," the Swiss said on Wednesday. "I thought he played an incredible match against Novak. To beat him here is one of the tough things to do in our sport. I know that Novak maybe wasn't at 110 per cent, but he was all right. To close it out, that was mighty impressive."I think it's an interesting match for me. I'll definitely have to look into how I need to play against him because he has some great qualities, especially defensively, like Novak has. "It's a good situation to be in. He can hit freely now. No expectations whatsoever.

The reigning champion is bidding for his 20th grand slam title this week, and is yet to drop a set all tournament. Chung's entertaining approach should at least make for an exciting match even if, as expected, Federer ultimately proves too strong. Though Chung has incredible speed Roger is no slouch either even at 36+ years. Where Chung will be most vulnerable is on his serve, it's not the strongest part of his game. He rarely went over 170 - 180 km/h, Federer will smell the opportunity there and as such, the South Korean is in for some potentially disastrous returns coming his way. Chung's second serve will be punished mercilessly. If he tries to up the ante on his second serve, chances that he will serve some double faults. It will be interesting to see if Roger's versatility can open up Chung's movement and possibly bring him forward with the short slice. Federer's second serve again is the best the game has ever seen. Federer can win even if he plays at 70%. One is not sure whether Chung can win playing 110%.

It looks hugely one-sided. Federer, a 19-time Grand Slam champion and veteran of 382 Slam showdowns over 20 years, up against an unseeded 21-year-old lining up for just his 17th match at a major. At 36 and 169 days, Federer is not only the oldest man in 41 years to reach the semi-finals in Melbourne, but also the only player in history to make the last four on 14 occasions. He’s the champion. He’s the GOAT. He’s been here before. He’s seen it all. Chung will have his work cut out proving he’s the new Djokovic in this one.

Chung is young, has lot of potential. But he has to travel miles before he can take on Roger in a grand slam semis. Best of luck to Chung and thanks for giving all the entertainment.

However, I am worried.

The reigning champion is bidding for his 20th grand slam title this week, and is yet to drop a set all tournament. Strangely enough though, he hasn't actually been playing that well. Sure, he's been cruising through his matches and winning easily, but there's been a bit more irritation than we're used to, and just a little less stardust. The main reason for this could be that Federer has not yet been properly tested. Maybe that's about to change. 

There are worrying signs. Against Berdych, Roger was 4 - 1 down, was serving for the set 5- 3. A set point went begging,Roger was defending for his life,a short backhand to the Czech was asking to be hit and Berdych hit it in the net. At 5 - 6 Roger served two double faults in the same game, was a set point down, got out of jail because of some wonderful shots including an exquisite backhand drop shotthat he can only make and some unforced errors from the Czech. In the third set also the Swiss superstar was broken. At 32 Berdych is not exactly a spring chicken. He was nursing an injury. It was their 10th meeting at Grand Slams, and an eighth win for the Swiss player. His career record against the Czech to 20-6.

In 2015 US Open Cilic had beaten Roger, then in his prime in semifinals in straight sets before winning the only grand slam has taken. Then it was predicted that he was the next best thing happening in tennis. He somehow has not been able to fulfill his promise. He has no apparent weakness, has a monstrous serve, powerful ground strokes, slides : everything. In 2017 Wimbledon finals he had an injury, but in the first set he had a break point, missed an easy backhand. This year he looks healthy, sharp, more determined. Only question mark may be he is too much a gentleman, and does he believe that he can beat GOAT in 2018 AO Finals.

If Roger reaches finals, which he will, he will be worried. Federer may be giving excellent interviews on the courtside with Jim Courier but he has to come out sharp in the finals. His recent tendencies to suddenly lose concentration , make easy mistakes and lose can hurt him dearly. Remember the year end ATP Masters semifinals against Goffin.

We all want Roger to win. GO ROGER GO for 20th grand slam, sixth AO. We will be cheering for you.-

Can China Solve the Rohingya Crisis?

By K. S. Venkatachalam

The Rohingya crisis is one of the worst humanitarian crises witnesses of our times. It is estimated, that over 800,000 Rohingya, mostly Muslims, have fled to Bangladesh, to escape the brutality unleashed on them by the Myanmar army. The army campaign has been described by the United Nations as a textbook example of ethnic cleansing. Satellite imagery shows near total destruction of 214 villages in Rakhine state since the army’s operation began against the community. There are chilling stories of elderly people, children, and women being burned alive when their houses were torched. Advocacy groups have documentary evidence of rapes, loot, and other inhuman treatment against the Rohingya. Under sustained international pressure, the army had ordered an inquiry into the alleged brutalities. As expected, the sham inquiry absolved the army from any human rights violations.

Japan Claims a Stake in Sri Lanka’s Ports

By Lasanda Kurukulasuriya

Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono’s visit to Sri Lanka earlier this month was the first by a Japanese foreign minister in 15 years. Governmental confirmation of Sri Lanka’s first liquefied natural gas (LNG) project came during Kono’s visit, when the prime minister’s office revealed that an MoU was to be signed with Japan to build a Floating Storage Regasification Unit (FSRU). The FSRU and LNG terminal project will be a joint venture by the Sri Lanka Ports Authority with both Japan and India. The LNG terminal is to be located within Colombo port – one of the busiest ports in South Asia and an important trans-shipment hub in the region.

US-China conflict risks new Cold War

Minxin Pei

Two recent U.S. documents reports on security and defense show Washington's perception of China and Russia as threats to core American interests and global hegemony. © Reuters For Chinese leaders, the recently published U.S. National Security Strategy and National Defense Strategy reports must have removed any lingering doubt that U.S.-China relations have taken a fateful turn toward long-term strategic conflict.

Is America Preparing for Conflict with China?

Zhiqun Zhu

The delicate U.S.-China relationship survived President Donald Trump’s first year in office without too many surprises. However, at the start of his second year in the White House, some dark clouds are hovering over the relationship.

Recent developments in Washington make one wonder whether some people in the U.S. government are actively seeking confrontation with China. On January 9, 2018, the House of Representatives passed the Taiwan Travel Act, indicating that it wants the U.S. government to “encourage” visits between U.S. and Taiwanese officials “at all levels”—including officials from the State Department and Defense Department. If the Senate were to pass a similar act, and if President Trump were to sign it into law, then the unofficial U.S.-Taiwan relationship would be upgraded to an official level, which would surely send U.S.-China relations into a tailspin. The Taiwan Travel Act arguably violates the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act, a U.S. law which set up the American Institute in Taiwan as a “nongovernmental entity” to promote “commercial, cultural and other relations” between the United States and Taiwan.

Counting Terrorists: The Urgent Need for Comprehensive Data

By Charles Kurzman

The Trump administration is trying to turn counterterrorism into an immigration issue. From the launch of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign—“we have no protection and we have no competence”—to last week’s joint report from the Homeland Security and Justice departments, “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States,” Trump and his supporters have argued that terrorism in the United States is primarily the work of immigrant Muslims.

Opinion: 7 issues that will shape the humanitarian agenda in 2018

By Peter Maurer

Syria enters its seventh year of fighting in 2018. Hunger and disease will affect millions of people in Somalia, South Sudan, and Yemen. Around the world, people will flee conflict only to become trapped in misery, as seen in Libya. People will suffer from immediate and long-term effects of conflict and violence, as I witnessed in Central African Republic earlier this month. While attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, I will remind global leaders of the need to assist and protect civilians trapped in war zones. If we don’t, global instability, major breakdowns of social and economic systems, and failure to achieve the SDGs will result.

Strategy, Ethics, and Trust Issues

By Mick Ryan

In the aftermath of the German U-boat campaign in the First World War, many in Europe and the United States argued that submarines were immoral and should be outlawed. The British Admiralty supported this view, and as Blair has described, even offered to abolish their submarine force if other nations followed suit. While British proposals to ban submarines in 1922 and 1930 were defeated, restrictions on their use where imposed that mandated that submarines could not attack a ship until such ships crews and passengers were placed in safety. This reaction to the development of a new means of war is illustrative of the type of ethical and legal challenges that must be addressed as military organizations adopt greater human-machine integration.

Ukraine faces a heightened risk of instability in 2018

by James Celer 

Current high levels of corruption and periodic rounds of unrest, linked to poor governance and diminishing support for the local authorities, highlight Ukraine’s persistent structural issues. The ongoing conflict in the east will also continue to generate political tensions that may hinder Kiev’s reform efforts. While Ukraine may not be hitting the front pages, its geopolitical position certainly makes it a country to watch in 2018. This year may prove to be a bellwether moment for the country, as it steers towards presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled in 2019.

The View From Olympus: Another Strategic Blunder


Last week Washington committed another strategic blunder. On Thursday, January 4, President Trump announced a cut-off of almost all military aid to Pakistan. This was an unfortunate and unwise strategic decision that contradicts three basic realities.  First, the action was driven by Pakistan’s continued support for the Taliban in Afghanistan. This is a classic strategic error, putting a lesser goal before a more important one. Pakistan is far more important strategically than Afghanistan. Afghanistan is a strategic backwater. Success or failure of our efforts there means little beyond the borders of that unhappy country (Al Qaeda long ago found better bases elsewhere). Pakistan is highly important for the whole region. It is a nuclear power. It has one of the few competent Islamic state militaries. The ultimate nightmare scenario is that the already weak Pakistani state disintegrates and 4GW elements grab the nukes. Cutting off military aid to Pakistan moves us closer to that strategic disaster.

Five reasons to lose sleep in 2018

Carlos Pascual

IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde reported in October 2017 that “the long-awaited economic recovery is taking root [with] the broadest-based acceleration since the start of the decade”. We should applaud. And also watch carefully five geopolitical risks that could throw us off track in 2018 – and perhaps even change the global order.

1) Biggest new threat: North Korea

Britain and France Agree on Deals to Limit Brexit Fallout

By STEPHEN CASTLE and ADAM NOSSITER

LONDON — Agreements on defense, security and the treatment of migrants were reached by President Emmanuel Macron of France and Prime Minister Theresa May of Britain on Thursday, as the two leaders sought to protect critical areas of cooperation while Britain prepares to withdraw from the European Union. Anglo-French summit meetings are regular events, but with Britain’s scheduled departure from the bloc in March next year, this one has a particular resonance. The British withdrawal, known as Brexit, will bring to an end more than four decades of European integration, and 2018 will see tough negotiations on the future trading relationship between Britain and the remaining 27 nations of the bloc — talks in which France will wield considerable influence.

Turkey Reaches the End of Its Rope in Syria


Tired of holding back against the Kurdish People's Protection Units, Turkey could soon unilaterally launch an offensive on Afrin canton and possibly Manbij. Up to this point, Turkey has pursued military operations in Syria only after gaining Russian or U.S. support. If Turkey departs from this approach, it will inevitably harm its relationship with both Russia and the United States and will considerably increase the risk of a dangerous accident.  Active U.S. and Russian engagement in Syria over the past few years has crowded out Turkey's ambitions for and pursuits in the country, but now its patience is wearing thin. Turkey's primary goal in Syria is to make sure that the two cantons controlled by Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) remain isolated from each other. Turkey had halted military operations toward this goal to avoid clashing directly with U.S. and Russian forces embedded with the YPG, but now evidence is mounting that it is planning a full-out military assault on the YPG, which would undoubtedly damage its relationship with both Russia and the United States.

Korea's Place in History

By Rodger Baker

"In the dynamic world of international relations in which the struggle for power among the great is the basic reality, the ultimate fate of the small buffer state is precarious at best."

Nicholas J. Spykman, "Geography and Foreign Policy, II," 1938

The approach of the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, may bring a respite, however brief, from the perception of imminent war on the Korean Peninsula. Feeling squeezed by the United States and China, the two sides of the 38th parallel agreed to resume talks with each other. Seoul and Pyongyang alike face economic pressure from Beijing, after all, and both fear Washington's military posturing, because while North Korea would be the target of a U.S. preventive war, South Korea would be its battleground. As the dialogue kicked off, Pyongyang and Seoul set out to shape their positions not only with regard to each other, but also in relation to other countries in the region. North Korea, for example, noted that it would not discuss its nuclear program because its missiles are aimed not at South Korea (or China or Russia) but only at the United States. And South Korea welcomed a dialogue limited to issues of mutual interest, such as the Olympics and ways to ease tensions in the demilitarized zone, while making clear that it would keep the United States and China in the loop about the talks. Both Koreas are playing a defensive game against larger powers.

Russia's Fraying Financial Safety Net Hangs by a Thread


The Kremlin has drained the Reserve Fund, which was used to help address budget deficits, and now is left to rely on its National Wealth Fund, which is intended to provide for Russia's future and guarantee its pension system. Russia, facing increased U.S. sanction pressure and on the brink of a recession, must address the financial crises in its banking and defense sectors and among its regional governments. The recent rise in oil prices relieves some of the pressure on the government, and increased borrowing on the international market and sizable foreign exchange currency reserves will help Russia stave off destabilization as pivotal elections approach. 

NUCLEAR WEAPONS DID NOT EMBOLDEN PAKISTAN: DRAWING THE RIGHT LESSONS FOR NORTH KOREA

T. NEGEEN PEGAHI

Editor’s Note: This is the seventeenth installment of “Southern (Dis)Comfort,” a new series from War on the Rocks and the Stimson Center. The series seeks to unpack the dynamics of intensifying competition — military, economic, diplomatic — in Southern Asia, principally between China, India, Pakistan, and the United States. Catch up on the rest of the seriesIn a recent War on the Rocks piece, Ankit Panda and Vipin Narang use the case of Pakistan to shed light on the ongoing nuclear crisis in North Korea, including examining whether nuclear weapons will embolden Kim Jong Un’s regime to act on its stated revisionist goals. After all, this isn’t the first time a dissatisfied state facing a stronger adversary has acquired and tested nuclear weapons and their delivery vehicles.

Limited Strikes on North Korea Would Be an Unlimited Disaster

BY LUKE O'BRIEN

Many commentators across the national security community, such as Edward Luttwak, Michael J. Green, Matthew Kroenig, Oriana Skylar Mastro, and others, have the same bright idea for how to get North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to swear off further ballistic missile and nuclear warhead testing: Punch him right in the metaphorical nose. The idea is that by hitting the right — and largely symbolic — target inside North Korea, we can find a sweet spot of escalation that’s light enough not to goad the North into a major war but painful enough to make them think twice about further testing of weapons of mass destruction. To quote one proponent, “Limited strikes should be targeted carefully and focused on North Korea’s specific provocation. A good start would be to take out the next North Korean intercontinental test missile on its launch pad.” As for the risk of a response, “If Kim can be deterred, as [critics of a strike] suggest, he will react in a way that risks few lives and leaves him options to preserve his precious regime.”

The Guardian view on cyberwar: an urgent problem


In the desperate scramble to rearm before the second world war there was always an undercurrent of pessimism. “The bomber will always get through,” Stanley Baldwin warned. In his dark fantasies, destruction and poison gas rained from the skies and obliterated civilisation. That isn’t quite what happened, though the bombers did their best. Today’s equivalent is the feeling that the hacker will always get through, and that attacks on computer networks will become the most devastating form of future warfare.

How Should the Pentagon Reshape Its Mideast Posture? Four Indicators to Watch

BY MELISSA G. DALTON MARA E. KARLIN
Source Link

A tour of possible scenarios reveals what U.S. policymakers ought to be focused on as they chart the future of regional force posture. The latest political-military drama in the Middle East—the United Arab Emirates claiming that Qatari jets buzzed two passenger planes, and Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates’ announcement of an alternative to the Gulf Cooperation Council—demonstrates the ongoing row with Qatar isn’t ending anytime soon. It also underscores what we wrote when the dispute broke out last summer: it is long past time for the United States to rethink its force posture in the Gulf.

What We Didn’t Learn from Twitter’s News Dump on Russiagate

BY PETER W. SINGER
Source Link

For a technology that is instant and global, the social media industry has certainly learned the value of the Washington DCtradition of “Friday News Dump.” Last night, amid a pending U.S.government shutdown and a presidential porn payoff scandal, Twitter released its long-awaited report on Russian uses of its platform to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.