This Made My Day

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Roger and Rafa: Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal embrace at the net after a hard fought five set match in their first grand slam final in six years with Federer prevailing to win his record 18th major at what was a memorable Australian Open. AP Photo via Getty Images courtesy Australian Open.

On a wonderful day to be alive where two great champions renewed the rivalry down under and went the distance with the King, Roger Federer prevailing in five sets over Rafael Nadal 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 to capture a record 18th grand slam for his first major in five years, this made my day.

A nice tweet exchange between moi and one of my favorite American tennis players, James Blake! 😀

Blake will always be an overachiever who overcame a career threatening injury to make a great run in the 2005 U.S. Open. He went all the way to the quarterfinals before losing in an epic five set showdown against American legend Andre Agassi. One played before a raucous atmosphere at Ashe Stadium in a night session in the city that never sleeps. The memorable highlights:

There are some matches you remember more than others. The same applies to any sport. Games that stand out. Plays that do. Or magical points in tennis lure that make it such an underappreciated sport. Whether it was Nadal prevailing over Federer in their third Wimbledon final in a five set epic winning it for the first time 9-7 in the fifth. Or it was Blake and Agassi going toe to toe from the baseline slugging it out shot for shot. Or the memorable Jimmy Connors ’91 run where he was in a similar predicament against Aaron Krickstein.  The astonishing Novak Djokovic return winner in which he went for broke on championship point to eventually stun Federer at the U.S. Open. Any classic point played between Agassi and Pete Sampras in what will always be my favorite rivalry. Roger and Rafa are right behind even though they’ve given us even more moments.

These are the moments that make sport great. Today in Melbourne, two legends battled it out for over three and a half hours in their first major final since 2011. One is the record holder for majors. Federer is now up to 18. A remarkable achievement considering he missed the last six months due to a knee injury. One in which he needed five sets to win three matches. Nadal, who had been written off at 30 due to the wear and tear- overcoming his own injuries to make a terrific run in beating quality opponents to reach his first slam final in a few years.

Of course, it would go five. Why wouldn’t it? I only wish I could’ve stayed up and watched. But I was tired and will put a few hours in at work later. Just seeing the winning Federer forehand that just edged the line with a challenge review determining that he had finally won again was enough. Seeing the sheer joy and tears at age 35 said it all. The respect each paid to each other during the on court ceremony. Wonderful stuff. Nadal with 14 majors looking like he still might have something left. Maybe he adds to his trophy case in early June at the French Open. Wouldn’t that be something?

Two players in the twilight of their Hall of Fame careers playing in their 30’s and still proving that they have it. Even if it took monumental upsets of co-favorites Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray for it to happen, tennis won. Nadal still had to go through emerging German sensation Alex Zverev, flying Frenchman Gael Monfils, big serving Canadian Milos Raonic and reemerging Bulgarian Gregor Dimitrov in nearly five hours. Federer had to beat pesky Japan star Kei Nishikori in five sets. He did catch a break with Zverev’s older brother Mischa pulling the upset of Murray in the Round of 16. One he took advantage of prevailing in straight sets to set up an All-Swiss battle against Stan Wawrinka. I gotta be honest. I picked Stan in five. I also took Dimitrov in five. I was glad to be proven wrong by both Roger and Rafa.

It says a lot about their character and desire that each needed to go five twice just to make the final. And for Federer to overcome his nemesis after Nadal took set four and was up a break 3-1 in the final set, that tells you how much he wanted it. He had lost the previous four meetings in major finals to Nadal, who got him last time in 2011 at Roland Garros. This was extra special.

I wish I could’ve seen Serena beat Venus the previous night. The Williams sisters have been a symbol of American tennis for the last decade. They have carried the torch. Serena Williams finally passing Steffi Graf for the most grand slam titles (23) in the Open Era with a 6-4, 6-4 win over elder sister Venus Williams. Two women playing great tennis in their mid-30’s. Serena at age 35 with only Margaret Court (24 majors) to catch. Venus, who couldn’t quite win that first Australian Open against her younger sister with the best serve in women’s history. Venus, who has overcome Sjogren’s Syndrome to still play the game she loves and do it competitively by making deep runs. So inspiring.

When it comes down to it, even though I couldn’t see as much of what’s become my favorite tournament as I would’ve liked due to the time difference and my schedule, tennis won. They got two epic finals with four of the greatest players who are all in their 30’s. Something that never happened before.

It’s a huge motivator to anyone out there who feels they can’t do it anymore. You can do whatever you want. Age is just a number. Work at it. Have fun. Live.

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Sugar and Sweetness

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“Sugar and Sweetness”

By Derek Felix 

 

I see you everyday 

Looking so fly 

In your own fancy way

You make me want to cry 

 

I would scream your name for days

That pleasant smile 

Makes me forget about yesterday 

If only we could hang for a while 

 

I’d sweep you off your feet 

Into the picturesque blue sky

And enjoy your tasty treat 

We would spring to an eternal high

 

Into another dimension 

Your world of sugar and sweetness

As soon as you enter you got my attention 

Looking so sexy with that flavor and uniqueness 

 

It doesn’t matter what you wear 

I can’t keep my eyes off yours 

No wonder I lose my focus when you’re near

You got that glamour and allure 

 

It doesn’t matter what color you do your hair

You’re a painting like a work of art

Every one of us can’t stop but stare 

It’s like I got hit by a love dart 

 

I keep telling myself you can’t be real

Only to be wondered in amazement 

Deep down you’re the real deal 

A kindred spirit who stands adjacent 

 

Leaving me breathless 

As I fall for your sugar and sweetness

You’re like heaven God bless 

One of a kind in love and uniqueness 

 

You have the lips of an angel 

Always lighting up the place 

Igniting a spark to our table 

You’re not just another pretty face 

 

There’s more to you than that 

It’s the way you talk and move

You’re the perfect candy Kit Kat

The way you joke and groove so smooth

 

You are that fire from above 

Carefree and cool to the extreme

Spreading your wings like a golden dove

I see you well dressed like a queen 

 

Driving me into your maze 

An ocean of sugar and sweetness 

If you were weed you’d be purple haze

With Jimi Hendrix jamming about your uniqueness 

 

That pizzazz with a lot of sass 

As you float like a gentle breeze 

Smart, sexy and so much class 

Making me drop to my knees 

 

If I dreamt you 

You couldn’t be any better 

You are a star that rings true 

Taking me back to school days of love letters

 

You are a diamond who lasts forever 

I knew that the first time we met 

I want more than ever for us to be together

Don’t tease me and play hard to get 

 

I’ll fly on a jet for miles 

Landing in your world of sugar and sweetness 

Mesmerized by your beautiful styles

The one and only starlet of uniqueness

A Return of Sorts

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Venus Williams will try to win her first Australian Open at age 36 when she goes up against younger sister Serena, who aims for history. An Australian Open to remember. Plus other thoughts including on the Knicks and Super Bowl. AP Photo via Getty Images courtesy Live Tennis.

I haven’t posted anything in a while. So, I am just gonna put together some random thoughts on a few things that are on my mind.

1.I have been going to the gym all week and am doing better. I had been putting it off for so long that I knew it was gonna finally happen. I gotta say I am pretty happy with the results. Increased energy. Better eating habits. Still gotta work on the sleep part. But I definitely am ready to reach my goal. Getting older, you have to be more focused and put more time in. I am ready for the challenge. 🙂

2.The key for me is just to stay in tune on one thing at a time. The same applies to work, life and friends. And of course, writing which will always be my true passion. I have started to write poems again at work when it drags. And so far, it’s nice to see my creative side coming out. I wrote this for someone special who I will always love no matter what:

“Your Rose”

by Derek Felix

Your rose is pink like neon lights

Above on a cold dark winters night

With a starry sky floating gold jewels

As a cool reminder that sunnier weather lies ahead

Just close your eyes and dream in bed

And its warmth will give you strength

I never did get around to finishing it. But I think the six lines say plenty. You can tell how much I care about her. I am in a funny place and have been for a while. One where I wish I was with this person but have become attracted to someone else at my job. And they are great too. But if push came to shove, well. I don’t think anything else needs to be said.

3.Writing has always come easy for me. Whether it’s blogging about hockey on New York Puck/Battle Of New York or other sports or life events/happenings, I am really good at expressing myself. I need to do it more consistently and build an audience again.

4.The Super Bowl is next week. It should be a good one. I am pulling hard for close Georgia buddy Colin’s Falcons. I have been on them since the Giants were Eli-minated by Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. A frustrating loss due to the lack of offensive creativity in a first half Big Blue controlled. Eventually, Rodgers picked them apart. Special teams were awful. Ben McAdoo’s play calling at times left much to be desired. They had a good year winning 11 games. Let’s just leave it at that.

5.I am strongly in favor of Matt Ryan winning MVP. I know it’s unlikely due to Rodgers and the invincible and ageless Tom Brady. I’m sure Matty Ice would take a Super Bowl championship ring over a regular season award any day. Especially if he or Julio Jones get game MVP at the expense of the Patriots. Here’s to hoping and believing.

6.Tennis is on my mind. When you have the Williams sisters playing for the first time in a grand slam final since 2009, it’s special. Especially for older sis Venus, who at age 36 showed pure joy when she beat Coco Vandeweghe in a tight three sets to make the final. Younger sister Serena, who is 35, aims for history. If she wins, it would be number 23 passing Steffi Graf for the most in the Open Era. She tied Graf by winning her seventh Wimbledon last year. I wish I could stay up and watch. But it’ll be 3:30 in the morning here and I have to be up for work.

7.I never thought we’d see the day where it would be Roger vs Rafa again for a slam. But here we are with the improbable happening with Federer and Nadal playing for a major for the first time in quite a while. With Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray falling victim to mammoth upsets, it paved the way for Federer and Nadal to go through a draw that was still challenging. Each was pushed five sets in great semifinals. First, Roger edged countryman Stan Wawrinka in five. Then, Nadal went nearly five hours with the end still on at after 8 AM here with him digging deep to beat Grigor Dimitrov in a memorable match. That came after straight setting Milos Raonic and needing four sets to defeat Gael Monfils. That tells you all you need to know about Rafa. He is 30 now and is in his first slam final in three years. He last won in 2014 with his ninth French Open giving the flamboyant Spaniard 14 majors to tie Pete Sampras.

Rafa and Roger will meet for the first time since 2011 when Nadal beat Federer in four sets to win the French Open. They’ve had some epic battles. Both have overcome injuries to come back and make it the first grand slam where both singles championships will be played by all four players who are 30-or-over. It’s never happened before. You have Federer at 35 and Nadal at 30 who seems older due to all the injuries he’s dealt with. Plus the questions about whether he had what it took to make a deep run again. They are close friends. Head to head, Rafa is 6-2 versus Roger in grand slam finals winning the last four meetings. It should be amazing.

There’s a reason I love the Australian Open. Sure. The time difference is a nightmare. But late night matches are fun and this tournament has gotten better and better since I started watching. The first tennis major has been memorable. How will the script end?

8.I am just gonna put out this thought on Carmelo Anthony. He will always be a great scorer and will one day make the NBA Hall Of Fame. Melo is one of the few stars who wanted to play in New York City. He got his wish when Denver made a blockbuster trade with the Knicks involving a lot of players going the other way including Galinari, Nene, Mozgov and Wilson Chandler. It was overpayment due to Dolan. However, there is this one thing that bothers me. It’s easy for fans and especially hypocritical media to rip on Anthony. But the guy has always taken a pounding scoring inside and out doing it with more wear and tear than most stars. It’s wrong to put this on him. It falls 100 percent on Phil Jackson. His refusal to speak to the media is pathetic. He’s left Melo hanging and is shopping him to anyone who will listen. It’s the ultimate disrespect. Even if it’s the right move for Anthony to go compete for a title and for the Knicks’ future, Phil has been horrible. Aside from Kristaps Porzingis, who they’re ruining by overplaying him with an injury, what has he done? Nada.

9.If I cared what LeBron thought on key issues, I would listen. Do us all a favor and shut up.

10.Here is a throwback song from Guns N’ Roses from the Use Your Illusion album that is still one of the best. Underappreciated song: