Nation Special


The Muhammad Ali of tennis

By Sarah Holt
The players on the men’s tour call Jo-Wilfried Tsonga the Muhammad Ali of tennis, and when he ambles over to shake hands it is easy to see why.
Standing at over six feet tall, weighing in at 14 stone and with a beaming lop-sided grin, the Frenchman bears a striking resemblance to the boxing legend.

“Ali is one of my heroes,” the 22-year-old told BBC Sport in Ali-style hushed tones.
“I liked him for his personality so I’m happy to be compared to him - it’s an honour.”
Despite the illustrious comparisons, Tsonga is a bit of an unknown outside tennis circles.
Hampered by back, shoulder and knee injuries for the last two years, the former world junior number two is only just beginning to make an impact at a senior level - but it’s some impact.

After winning the Surbiton Challenger title earlier this month, Tsonga qualified for Queen’s where he dumped former champion Lleyton Hewitt out in straight sets.
That feat earned him a wildcard for Wimbledon, and a rather generous £250 gift from Queen’s Club for being the qualifier who impressed the most.

Now, Tsonga has trumped all that by reaching the third round of Wimbledon - his best-ever Grand Slam result.
The Frenchman remains unfazed by his sudden success.
“I’m not surprised,” said Tsonga, the world number 110.
“It has taken me a long time to recover from my injuries but I’ve been playing well in the past few months and won (four) Challengers. Now I’m here.”
Tsonga grew up with fellow French young gun Gael Monfils, and the pair of them would spend hours trying to get a serve just like Andy Roddick’s.

All that hard work seems to be paying off as Tsonga has made his huge serve his biggest weapon.
In his second-round victory over Nicolas Lapentti, he won a whopping 86% of points on his first serve.
That kind of firepower, coupled with his taste for attacking tennis, mean Tsonga has got the game for Wimbledon.
“My serve works well on the grass,” said the wildcard. “I serve hard and I enjoy it.
“I like playing at Wimbledon as you have to go to the net and you can do just about everything on grass.”
Standing in the way of the Frenchman’s passage to last 16 is Tim Henman’s conqueror Feliciano Lopez, a Spaniard who loves grass.
But, just like Ali, Tsonga is fearless.

“Whether I play Hewitt, Lapentti or any other guy I just want to beat him,” he said. “The confidence I have in myself is one of my strengths.
“Every match is a new one and is different but every day I come with another goal.
“I’m very happy. This is my first time at Wimbledon and I’ve got my first-ever Grand Slam win. Now I’ll try to go on.” Maybe Roger Federer should watch his back, with fighting talk like that Tsonga could just be on his way to becoming ‘The Champ’ on grass.
- [BBC]


‘Team Jeep’ stuns big guns at SLARDAR 1000 4x4 rally

Ashhar Hameen co-driven by Rizmin Razik in a Mitsubishi Pajero clinched the grueling SLARDAR 1000 4x4 Rally – 2007 which ended at Battaramulla after the completion of almost 1000 kms on and off road over three consecutive days.
The organisers made this year’s rally tougher and grueling with 75% of the course being on the beaten off road and jungle tracks which included water crossings, mountain climbing, gravel tracks, rock climbing, paddy field runs and beach runs through sand storms. Due to the terrain, competition was strictly limited to 4x4 vehicles only.
Rally experienced Hameen and Razik from the Southern Motor Sports Club who clinched the title had total debits of 41 whilst the first runner-up Deepthi Perera and Shammi Wickramasinghe of ‘TEAM Jeep’ in their Dimo sponsored Jeep Wrangler had a total of 48 debits with only a narrow gap of 7 points amongst them.
Sri Lanka’s Hill Climb champion, the rally experienced Nishan Weerasuriya co-driven by Sriomal de Silva in their Toyota Hilux finished third with a total of 50 debits. The off-roading fanatic, Allan Hertogs co-driven by his wife Kalyani finished fourth in their Toyota Land Cruiser with 52 debits having a narrow gap amongst the top ranked competitors.
Stage 1 of the rally flagged off the 35 competitors from Battaramulla to Archchikattuwa with a distance of approximately 180kms. This stage was won by Suchith Mohotti and Sam Chandrasoma with zero debits driving their Dimo backed Jeep Wrangler. They were the only competitors to have zero debits during any stage of the year 2007 event, and the second competitor after veteran Pubudu Wickrama in the history of the event to have zero debits during any stage. It also made “Jeep” 4x4’s to be the first SUV in the history of the event to have zero debits.
Stage 2 from Archchikattuwa to Naula consisted of a beach run through a sand storm, speed gravel tracks etc. and was won by the rally winner Hameen. Dimo sponsored Jeep Grand Cherokee tipped to be one of the favorites for this stage driven by novice Tharanga Gunawardena and co -driven by Prashan Wijayanayake had to seek technical assistance at a time when they were on par with well experienced competitors.
Stage 3 which was the longest and toughest stage consisted of 250kms. Most of the competitors were exhausted after driving over night with short intervals. Competitors left Naula according to their time slots from 8.02 am onwards to Maduraoya through Knuckles range, Laggala, Dambana, and Maduruoya national park. This stage was won by SLARDAR 1000 Rally – year 2001 winner Rizvi Farouk.
Stage 4, which commenced at 8.02 am on June 17 after a good night break from Maduraoya to Kandy covering approximately 200kms through Girandurukotte, Wasgamuwa national park, Riverstone, Rattota, Matale with many scenic views which most of the competitors have never seen in their lives before. This stage was won by Mansur Hassen and Murad Rajudin in their Mitsubishi Montero.
After a lunch break in Kandy the competitors drove to Colombo reaching the finish line from 8.30pm onwards.
The Team championship award was won by ‘Team Takaful’ with drivers Mansur Hassen, Tariq Hassen and Nishan Weerasuriya. ‘Team Southern’ consisting of drivers Athula Wickramasurendra, Ashhar Hameem, Dishan Goonasekera won the 1st runner up position while ‘Team Land Rover’ consisting of drivers Nalin Premaratna, Saty Watson and Nadeesh Bandara won the 2nd Runner up position.
The SLARDAR 1000 4X4 Rally 2007 with over 40 check points across the route was organised by the Sri Lanka Association of Racing Drivers and Riders (SLARDAR) together with the Four Wheel Drive Club – Sri Lanka (FWDC).
The main sponsor of the event was Central Investments and Finance Ltd (CIFL). It was co-sponsored by the inventors of the Passenger 4x4’s to the World….. “Jeep” distributed by Dimo’s, Redbull & Outdoorsman, agents for Mickey Thompson & T-Max off road gear.


SLARDAR 1000 4X4 RALLY 2007

Rank Driver Co Driver Vehicle
1 Ashhar Hameem Rizmin Razik Mitsubisihi Pajero
2 Deepthi Perera Shammika
Wickremasinghe Jeep Wrangler
3 Nishan Weerasuriya Sriomal De Silva Toyota Hilux

Rank Driver Co Driver Vehicle
1 Suchith Mohotti Sam Chandrasoma Jeep Wrangler
2 Ashhar Hameem Rizmin Razik Mitsubisihi Pajero
3 Allan Hertogs Kalyani Hetogs Toyota Landcruiser

Rank Driver Co Driver Vehicle
1 Ashhar Hameem Rizmin Razik Mitsubisihi Pajero
2 Athula Dimuth
Wickramasurendra Bambaravange Toyota Landcruiser
3 Saty Watson Johann Tranchell Land Rover Discovery

Rank Driver Co Driver Vehicle
1 Rizvi Farouk Akri Ameer Toyota Hilux
2 Shafraz Junaid Ashan Silva Nissan Datsun
3 Nalin Premaratna Rajive Wanigasekera Land Rover Defender
3 Tariq Hassen Kalim Iqbal Toyota Hilux

Rank Driver Co Driver Vehicle
1 Mansur Hassen Murad Rajudin Mitsubisihi Montero
2 Warna Ariyadasa Deepal Perera Toyota Landcruiser
3 Deepthi Perera Shammika
Wickremasinghe Jeep Wrangler


Highlights of Bradby 2nd leg in Colombo

Following their victory in Kandy in the 1st leg, Royal defeated Trinity 15-11 in the 2nd leg in Colombo to regain the Bradby Shield.
Royal also won the Simithriarachchi Trophy for the under 18 encounter.
(Pix by Pushpakumara Matugama)