Sep 18, 2010

10 people killed in Afghanistan parliamentary election

At least 10 people were killed in Afghanistan during election to the parliament of the country on Saturday. Taliban unleashed country wide attacks to disrupt a poll that is testing the credibility of the government and security forces.

Voters appeared hesitant to go to polling stations after a series of rocket strikes across the country. In the worst attack, police said the Taliban killed one Afghan soldier and six pro-government militiamen in a raid on a security outpost next to a polling station in northern Baghlan province.

Glenn Cowan, co-founder of U.S.-based observers Democracy International, said turnout felt "about the same" as 2009, when about 4 million Afghans cast valid votes. "It was about the same pace this time," he said an hour before polls were due to close.

The Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan, an independent watchdog, estimated last year's turnout at around 35 percent. There are 11.4 million eligible voters this time.

Significant security failures would be a major setback, with Washington watching closely before U.S. President Barack Obama conducts a war strategy review in December likely to examine the pace and scale of U.S. troop withdrawals.

A poll flawed by violence and fraud would also weigh on Obama when his administration faces mid-term Congressional elections in November amid sagging public support for the war, with violence at its worst levels since the Taliban were ousted in 2001.

The trend for the day was set early when a rocket landed near the U.S. embassy and the headquarters of NATO-led forces in Kabul about three hours before polls opened at 7 a.m. (10:30 p.m. EDT).

The Taliban said on their website they had conducted more than 100 attacks during the day.

Saturday's election followed a similar pattern to last year's flawed presidential poll, which the Taliban also threatened but failed to disrupt significantly despite scores of attacks.

Independent Election Commission (IEC) chairman Fazl Ahmad Manawi said 8 percent of the 5,816 polling centers had either not opened or not reported in, mainly because of security fears. The IEC had already decided not to open another 1,019 sites after the Taliban vowed to disrupt voting.

The attacks, and the number of polling stations that remained closed, raised fears about low voter turnout that could affect the outcome and credibility of the vote.

Rocket strikes in northern Takhar province and eastern Kunar killed three and wounded nine, officials said. Two Afghan election observers were wounded by an explosion inside a polling center in eastern Khost province, police said.

Kunar authorities called in a NATO air strike that killed nine Taliban fighters who attacked a poll site, Kunar police chief Khalilullah Ziayee said.

Many voters stayed home after the Taliban threatened to cut off the ink-stained fingers of those who cast ballots.

"I don't want to go and vote because of the Taliban's intimidation. I don't want to risk my life, just for a candidate," said one resident in Logar, south of Kabul, where four polling stations were closed after Taliban assaults.

"This is for Afghanistan's future," said student Sohail Bayat after casting his vote in Kabul. "People don't want the Taliban back, so every Afghan needs to go out and vote."

Corruption and fraud are also serious concerns after a deeply flawed presidential ballot last year when a third of Karzai's votes were thrown out as fake. Even though he is not standing, Saturday's vote is seen as a test of Karzai's credibility.

Washington believes graft weakens the central government and its ability to build up institutions like the Afghan security forces, which in turn determines when troops will leave. Obama has pledged to start drawing down U.S. forces from July 2011.

Irregularities reported before and during the vote included fake voter registration cards, people washing ink off their fingers and attempts to bribe or intimidate voters.

It will not be clear for several weeks who among the almost 2,500 candidates have won the 249 seats in the wolesi jirga, or lower house of parliament. Early results will not be known until at least October 8, with final results not due before October 30.

Election observers expect thousands of complaints from losing candidates, which could delay the process further.

Almost 300,000 Afghan soldiers and police provided security for the poll, backed up by some 150,000 foreign troops, but that was not enough to convince some disillusioned Afghans.

"If I saw an honest man, I'd vote for him," said Faqir Jan, an unemployed Kabul man.

Gold records 9 percent gain in a month, silver 5 percent in a week

Gold hit a record high on Friday for the third time this week as poor U.S. consumer confidence and market talk of more quantitative easing helped the alternative asset score its biggest weekly gain since May.

Spot gold fetched $1,275.50 an ounce at 3:11 p.m. EDT (2011 GMT), compared with $1,272.20 late in New York on Thursday. It has gained more than $100, nearly 9 percent, since the start of August.

Covering gold's rally, silver has gained 5 percent this week, double the yellow metal's 2.5 percent increase. Spot silver was up 0.1 percent at $20.74 an ounce from $20.72 in New York on Thursday.

The metal received a boost from data showing Thailand raised its gold holdings by a fifth in July through open-market purchases, joining a growing list of Asian nations diversifying into gold amid volatility in other markets.

Silver rose to just below $21 an ounce, approaching levels not seen since 1980 as gold's rally triggered further investor speculation that the white metal would continue a winning streak that began in August.

"Gold continues to reflect the overall level of concern. The weak consumer confidence data was certainly supportive to the rally in gold," said Frank McGhee, head of precious metals trading at Integrated Brokerage Services in Chicago.

Gold surged to an all-time peak of $1,282.75 an ounce in the European session on expectations that the U.S. Federal Reserve, hoping to stave off double-dip recession, could announce more quantitative easing -- usually a boon for gold.

After some profit-taking, the yellow metal turned higher again after data showed consumer sentiment worsened in early September to its weakest in more than a year. Another report indicated little underlying U.S. inflationary pressure.

U.S. December futures settled up $3.70 at $1,277.50 an ounce.

On charts, gold remained well within a long-term rising channel dating to late 2008, and technical buying could propel the metal further above record highs, analysts said.

Gold's safe-haven status increased on renewed sovereign debt worries in Ireland, after a report said Irish banks might need a bailout, but Ireland's finance ministry said there was no truth to the claim.

Foreign-exchange volatility also boosted gold's appeal as an alternative currency. Japan intervened this week to weaken the yen for the first time in six years and the United States sharpened its tone on China's currency policy.

"It's partly a currency move. There's certainly investor nervousness about monetary policy around the world since the yen intervention," precious metals strategist Matthew Turner of Mitsubishi Corp said.

The euro fell as European debt worries and the weak U.S. consumer data enhanced the dollar's safe-haven appeal, while fear of more Japanese intervention kept the yen near a one-month low against the U.S. currency.

Dollar sentiment overall has been damaged by speculation that the Fed could announce more quantitative easing when it meets on Tuesday.

September and October are typically strong periods for jewelry demand, with a number of major gold-buying festivals near the year-end in top consumer India, while Western manufacturers stock up ahead of Christmas.

"The last few months, silver has been benefiting as a monetary metal like gold, when things are looking bad, and as an industrial metal when things are looking good," Mitsubishi's Turner added.

However, technical analysis suggests silver is overbought and could be due a correction.

"Silver is renowned for overshooting and undershooting. In my opinion, that kind of rate of increase can't be sustained. I would not be recommending anyone to get long or longer silver at $21," Credit Suisse analyst Tom Kendall said.

Spot platinum hit $1,630 an ounce, its highest since May 19. It rose to $1,611.50 from $1,603.65 on Thursday and palladium fell to $540.50 an ounce from $544.65.

Afghanistan holds parliamentary election today amid militant threat, fear of forgery & rigging

People in Afghanistan are voting in crucial parliamentary elections amid threats from the Taliban, who have vowed to disrupt the vote. Besides, observers expressed apprehension of forgery & rigging in the election which to be cause for instability in near future in the war ravaged South Asian country.  

The Taliban has already claimed responsibility for kidnapping two parliamentary candidates, 18 poll officials and campaign workers in the run-up to the elections.

Hours before the polls opened, central Kabul was hit by a rocket attack. No casualties have been reported.

More than 2,500 candidates are vying for 249 seats in the lower house of parliament, or Wolesi Jirga.

The poll is seen as a test of credibility for President Hamid Karzai, after fraud marred elections last year.

On Friday US special envoy to Afghanistan Richard Holbrooke said the vote was likely to be flawed, but it was significant that it was taking place at all.

"We have had experience in our country with flawed elections, and not in the middle of a war. We are not looking for perfection here," Mr Holbrooke said.

Washington is watching Saturday's poll closely, as US President Barack Obama prepares a strategy review in December that is expected to consider the scale of plans to start withdrawing American troops from next year.

Afghan soldiers and police are guarding the polls, backed up by nearly 150,000 foreign troops.

Nearly 6,000 polling stations in 34 provinces were due to have opened at 0700 local time (0230 GMT) and will close at 1600 local time (1130 GMT). But about 1,000 will not open because of security fears.
The Taliban have warned voters to boycott the poll and "stick to jihad".

In what correspondents say is a thinly veiled threat, insurgents said in a statement they had "chalked out certain measures... to frustrate this American process and will implement them on the day when the illegitimate process of elections is conducted".

But some voters were out early despite the threats.

Government worker Mohammad Husman, 50, was at the front of the queue at a polling station in a school in Kabul.

"I came here because I want prosperity for Afghanistan, [and] stability for Afghanistan," he said.

"I am worried about security and fraud and I hope my vote goes to the person I picked to vote for," he added.

The rocket fired in Kabul early on Saturday landed outside Afghanistan's state-owned TV station, police said.

There were also reports of rocket attacks in the eastern city of Jalalabad in Nangarhar province. There is no word on casualties.

Ahead of the vote, President Karzai urged Afghans to cast their ballots, despite threats from the Taliban.

There are more than 10 million registered voters, but the UN says a turnout of five to seven million would be a success, given the difficulty of holding a poll in the middle of a war.
'Not perfect' poll

Another major concern for election officials and international observers is that the polls will not be free or fair.

Mr Karzai on Friday admitted that "under the circumstances we must expect that there will be irregularities, there will be problems and there will be allegations as well".

On Tuesday, officials from Afghanistan's Independent Election Commission (IEC) said 3,000 forged voter registration cards had been confiscated in the central province on Ghazni.

However, IEC officials stressed that they had taken a number of measures - including the usage of an indelible ink to avoid double voting - to prevent fraud.

Preliminary results are to be announced on 22 September, with the final results due on 31 October.

The outcome is not expected to change the make-up of the government although President Karzai's credibility may be damaged if his preferred candidates are defeated, or if vote-rigging is suspected.

Members of the Wolesi Jirga sit for a five-year term.

Few candidates have declared party affiliations. Correspondents say political parties have little influence in Afghan politics, and ethnicity continues to be the main factor influencing alliances.

Sep 17, 2010

World top 10 male tennis stars

Rafael Nadal of Spain is crowned as number one with highest 12025.00 points in the latest world tennis ranking published on September16, 2010. Rafa's information in short: 
* Pronounced: ra-FAY-el nah-DAHL
* Age: 24 (03.06.1986)
* Birthplace: Manacor, Mallorca, Spain
* Residence: Manacor, Mallorca, Spain
* Height: 6'1" (185 cm)
* Weight: 188 lbs (85 kg)
* Plays: Left-handed
* Turned Pro: 2001
* Coach: Toni Nadal
* Website:

Novak Djokovic of Serbia achieved second position keeping Federer behind with 7145.00 points. Djoko is here in short message:

* Pronounced: DJO-ko-vich
* Age: 23 (22.05.1987)
* Birthplace: Belgrade, Serbia
* Residence: Monte Carlo, Monaco
* Height: 6'2" (188 cm)
* Weight: 176 lbs (80 kg)
* Plays: Right-handed
* Turned Pro: 2003
* Coach: Marian Vajda
* Website:

The greatest Roger Federer of Switzerland stands on 3rd position winning 6735.00 points. His information is here in short:

* Age: 29 (08.08.1981)
* Birthplace: Basel, Switzerland
* Residence: Bottmingen, Switzerland
* Height: 6'1" (185 cm)
* Weight: 187 lbs (85 kg)
* Plays: Right-handed
* Turned Pro: 1998
* Coach: Paul Annacone
* Website:

Andy Murray of Great Britain stands at 4th position
reaching 5035.00 points. His information in short :
* Age: 23 (15.05.1987)
* Birthplace: Dunblane, Scotland
* Residence: London, England
* Height: 6'3" (190 cm)
* Weight: 185 lbs (84 kg)
* Plays: Right-handed
* Turned Pro: 2005
* Website:
Robin Soderling of Sweden holds 5th position in world ranking gaining 4910.00 points. His short description is here:
* Age: 26 (14.08.1984)
* Birthplace: Tibro, Sweden
* Residence: Monte Carlo, Monaco
* Height: 6'4" (193 cm)
* Weight: 192 lbs (87 kg)
* Plays: Right-handed
* Turned Pro: 2001
* Coach: Magnus Norman



Nikolay Davydenko of Russia gained 6th position
in the world ranking achieving 4150.00 points.
Davy's information in short:

* Age: 29 (02.06.1981)
* Birthplace: Severodonezk, Ukraine
* Residence: Volgograd, Russia
* Height: 5'10" (178 cm)
* Weight: 154 lbs (70 kg)
* Plays: Right-handed
* Turned Pro: 1999
* Coach: Eduard Davydenko

Tomas Berdych of Czech Republic won 7th position in the world ranking achieving 3780.00 points

* Pronounced: TOH-mas ber-DICHT
* Age: 25 (17.09.1985)
* Birthplace: Valasske Mezirici, Czech
* Residence: Monte Carlo, Monaco
* Height: 6'5" (196 cm)
* Weight: 200 lbs (91 kg)
* Plays: Right-handed
* Turned Pro: 2002
* Coach: Tomas Krupa
* Website:

Fernando Verdasco of Spain won 8th position in the world ranking achieving 3330.00points. His short identity is here:
* Age: 26 (15.11.1983)
* Birthplace: Madrid, Spain
* Residence: Madrid, Spain
* Height: 6'2" (188 cm)
* Weight: 179 lbs (81 kg)
* Plays: Left-handed
* Turned Pro: 2001

Mikhail Youzhny of Russia gained 9th position in the world ranking achieving 3295.00 points. His identity in short here: 
* Pronounced: mee-KAIL YOOS-nee
* Age: 28 (25.06.1982)
* Birthplace: Moscow, Russia
* Residence: Moscow, Russia
* Height: 6' (183 cm)
* Weight: 160 lbs (73 kg)
* Plays: Right-handed
* Turned Pro: 1999
* Coach: Boris Sobkin

David Ferrer of  Spain closed the 10th position in the world ranking achieving 3200.00 points. About him is here:
* Pronounced: fuh-RER
* Age: 28 (02.04.1982)
* Birthplace: Javea, Spain
* Residence: Valencia, Spain
* Height: 5'9" (175 cm)
* Weight: 160 lbs (73 kg)
* Plays: Right-handed
* Turned Pro: 2000
* Coach: Javier Piles
* Website:

Sep 16, 2010

Nadal doesn't compare him to Roger Federer

World number one Rafael Nadal says it is too early to compare him to Roger Federer despite becoming only the seventh man to win all four grand slam tennis tournaments.
Rafael Nadal & Roger Federer in action

Nadal, 24, beat Novak Djokovic in the U.S. Open final in New York on Monday to win his ninth grand slam title, moving within seven of Federer's record haul of 16.

But asked about comparison's with the Swiss, Nadal told CNN: "I think he is the best -- I am very far from him. It's difficult to say I am like Roger -- I never thought that way.

"But I am very happy with what I did. I want to keep playing how I have been playing."

Nadal produced some of the best tennis of his career to become the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to win the French Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open in the same year.

He only lost one set in the entire tournament -- to Djokovic in the final -- and his serve was only broken on five occasions -- equaling a record set by Andy Roddick in 2003.

Worryingly for his opponents, Nadal has vowed to get even better.

"I want to keep working hard and keep improving and keep playing with the same motivation," he said. "That way I will keep having chances in the final rounds of tournaments.

"All my life I practiced with high-intensity. I think you play like you practice. I love competition and the sport in general so when I go on court I always try my best. I try to enjoy it and fight every moment."

While Nadal was keen to play down his achievement, Djokovic was in no doubt that he had just lost to a player capable of becoming the greatest in the history of the sport.

"He's so mentally strong and dedicated to this sport," the Serbian third seed, who beat Federer in the semifinals, told reporters. "He has all the capabilities, everything he needs, in order to be the biggest ever.

"He has the game now for each surface and he has won each major. He has proven to the world that he's the best in this moment, so there is no question about it."

Washington against Chinese currency intervention

Washington criticizes  Chinese currency intervention on Wednesday  and  the US administration has filed two new cases against Beijing at the World Trade Organisation in this connection, sources said.

The moves are aimed to crank up pressure on Beijing to change what the US says are distortionary and illicit measures to favour its own companies.

Tim Murphy, a Republican congressman from Pennsylvania, appeared at a House of Representatives hearing on Wednesday to promote a bill that would allow the US to treat Chinese currency undervaluation as an illegal export subsidy when imposing emergency tariffs.

"The American people are calling for Washington to create jobs. Since the administration won't hold China accountable, the Congress must."

Separately, the US trade representative (USTR) filed two WTO cases against China, one concerning Chinese restrictions on foreign suppliers processing credit and debit card payments, and another challenging China's own use of emergency tariffs against US steel exports.

"In both cases, USTR is fighting for the American jobs threatened by China's actions and insisting on the level playing field promised in our WTO agreements," said Ron Kirk, the USTR.

China let its currency rise again on Wednesday for the fifth trading day in a row, bringing the appreciation of the Chinese currency against the dollar over the last week to 0.8 per cent -- a relatively large move in the context of China's highly cautious currency management.

But Mr Murphy dismissed the action, saying that it was a short-term sop to US opinion ahead of this week's two-day congressional hearing. Tim Geithner, Treasury secretary, is due to testify on Thursday.

"Don't be fooled by yesterday's news that the yuan hit a new high against the dollar -- this is a repeat of past history," he said. Since June, China has let its currency appreciate by only about 1 per cent against the dollar.

The bill follows a similar push in the Senate led by Charles Schumer, the Democratic senator from New York. With a crowded legislative calendar, the bills will struggle to become law before the midterm elections in November but may be picked up again next year.

The bills would allow estimates of currency undervaluation to be used in so-called "countervailing duties", emergency tariffs imposed against imports deemed to be unfairly subsidised. Trade lawyers are divided over whether such a move would be compatible with World Trade Organisation rules, and they could spark litigation from China. Some observers have suggested the US bring its own case against China to the WTO over currency manipulation, though that would take years.

The move to accelerate appreciation of the currency follows the weekend publication of data showing that China's economy was stronger in August than most economists had expected, while inflation continued to rise.

However, many analysts believe the real reason for the shift in strategy is escalating political pressure from the US.

Chinese leaders have stated on several occasions that they will not adjust their exchange rate policy as a result of foreign pressure. Yet the recent currency strength, which started immediately after a visit to Beijing by Lawrence Summers, President Obama's leading economic policy advisor, has left some observers with the opposite impression.

China announced in June that it was abandoning its de facto currency peg with the US dollar -- also after considerable pressure from Washington. However, until last week, Beijing had allowed only very modest movement in the dollar exchange rate, while the renminbi had actually weakened against a basket of the currencies of its main trading partners.

With the prospect of a protectionist backlash in the US rising, Beijing also faces the risk that other G20 members will pick up the issue at the next summit in November if the renminbi does not continue to rise. Japan's decision to intervene in the currency market on Wednesday and the prospects of similar moves from some other Asian countries underlined the exchange rate pressure that other governments in the region are facing.

Robert Zoellick, head of the World Bank, said that a stronger currency was in China's interest because it would help stimulate the required rebalancing of the economy towards domestic demand and consumption. "Appreciating the renminbi would send a pricing signal that could reinforce the direction of these structural reforms," he said on Wednesday in Beijing.

However, he added that currency appreciation was "not a panacea" and that China also needed to address the underlying structural issues that have led to high savings and investment.

Mr Zoellick said he did not expect the US to experience a double-dip recession. But he warned that "the US economy will have a relatively slow-growth recovery" and that "unemployment will likely remain relatively high" while Europe also faced "a slow-growth picture".

Videogame "Halo: Reach" marks record $200 million sale on 1st day

Microsoft said on Thursday that its new videogame "Halo: Reach" had racked up $200 million in sales on its launch day, boding well for the November debut of the Xbox 360 console maker's new gaming system.

"Halo: Reach" is the latest version of the blockbuster "Halo" game series and went on sale this week. The franchise has sold more than 34 million copies in the nine years since its debut, boosting the popularity of Microsoft's Xbox console.

"That's more than any game, any movie, any entertainment experience that was launched in 2010," Phil Spencer, vice president of Microsoft Game Studios, told the audience at the Tokyo Game Show about the "Halo: Reach" debut.

He added that the "Halo: Reach" launch had also helped lure millions of gamers to Microsoft's online game system Xbox Live.

The "Halo" series has grossed nearly $2 billion in sales over its lifetime. The game is made by Bungie and Microsoft owns the rights to the franchise.

The basic version of the game costs $60, with special editions priced at $80 and $250. Microsoft is also selling a special Xbox console plus the new version of the game for $400. An Xbox normally costs $200 or $300 depending on memory size.

Microsoft and its archrivals Nintendo and Sony Corp are looking to reinvigorate the $60 billion game industry that has seen dwindling console sales. U.S. gaming sales in August hit their lowest in four years.

Microsoft will begin selling its "Kinect" full-body motion-sensing game system from November 4, while Sony launched its "Move" motion-controlled gaming system on September 15.

Nintendo will sell a new version of its DS handheld device that can play games and show movies in 3D without glasses sometime before March 2011.

23 killed in the last 72 hours in Indian-Kashmir as violences spread in new areas

At least five protesters have been shot dead by police on Wednesday leading  the death toll to 23 number of people in the last three days as violence in Indian-administered Kashmir spreads to new areas.

The fatal shooting on Wednesday came as the Indian government held crisis talks in New Delhi to tackle the escalating unrest.

Officials said police fired on an angry crowd in the previously quiet town of Mendhar, a Muslim settlement in a Hindu-dominated area to the southwest of Kashmir, 210km from the town of Jammu.

"Four youths have been killed in the firing and several government buildings  were attacked and burnt down by the angry protesters," Pawan Kotwal, a top local government official, told reporters.

Another death was reported by local police in the volatile northern town of Sopore, where police shot a 24-year-old man.

Manmohan Singh, the Indian prime minister, called for calm and said he was "shocked and distressed" by the demonstrations engulfing the disputed Himalayan area.

Wednesday's toll brings to 23 the number of people killed since Monday in what has been dubbed the bloodiest days in three months of protests.

A cross-party meeting of political leaders in New Delhi ended with no new initiatives, but a decision was made to send a fact-finding mission to "meet all sections of the people and gather all shades of opinion".

In the recent incidents, for the last three months young Kashmiris have  been throwing stones at security forces and rallied against Indian rule in the Muslim-majority region.

The clashes between the stone throwers and security agencies have left 93 people dead, according to a tally by the AFP news agency.

Many Indian politicians before Singh have tried and failed to resolve the Kashmir question, producing a deadlock over the status of the region.

Kashmir, split between India and Pakistan, is jointly administered by the two countries and has triggered two of the three wars between the nuclear-armed nations.

Singh told the meeting of political parties in New Delhi that dialogue was the only way out of the crisis, but that peace and calm had to be restored first.

"The only path for lasting peace and prosperity in Jammu and Kashmir is that of dialogue and discussion," he said.

Al Jazeera's Divya Gopalan, reporting from New Delhi, said: "The government has time and time again put the issue on the back burner, but now as pictures of violent demonstrations and clashes are broadcast around the world, there's a realisation that any delay could re-ignite more flames of fury."

Saying Kashmir is an integral part of India, Sonia Gandhi, the leader of the ruling Congress party, urged the government to listen to the angry new generation "that has grown up in the embrace of violence, of conflict and brutality".

"We must give them hope, we must understand and respect their legitimate aspirations," she said.

Since the weekend, arson and mob attacks have risen, apparently fuelled by reports about the desecration of the Quran by a small group of Christians in Washington on Saturday.

Police in Jammu said the crowd had tried to attack a missionary school in Mendhar.

Scores of people have been killed in the worst clashes in decades. Since Sunday the government has imposed an round-the-clock curfew.

The Indian government is under growing pressure to scrap emergency law in this troubled region and address the population's many woes.

So, is India prepared to take on the Kashmir issue to solve showing honor to the mandate of Kashmiri people? 

Spain holds top position, Germany advances to 3rd position in FIFA ranking

ZURICH: FIFA rankings released on Wednesday for September (August position in parentheses):
1, Spain (1)
2, Netherlands (2)
3, Germany (4)
4, Brazil (3)
5, Argentina (5)
6, England (7)
7, Uruguay (6)
8, Portugal (8)
9, Egypt (9)
10, Chile (10)
11, Croatia (14)
12, Greece (12)
13, Italy (11)
14, Norway (22)
15, Serbia (13)
16, Slovakia (27)
17, Paraguay (15)
18, United States (18)
19, Slovenia (19)
20, Ghana (23)

Nadal doesn't think himself as Spain’s greatest athlete

U.S. Open champion Rafael Nadal reached home on Wednesday, mentioning his latest tennis triumph did not adjudge him as Spain’s greatest athlete.

Nadal, who became the seventh player to complete a career grand slam with Monday’s victory in New York, said any comparisons to the greats was “madness.”

Rafael Nadal with US Open 2010 Trophy

“As a tennis player, I took an important step forward with this and these have been six unforgettable months,” Nadal said shortly after touching down at Madrid’s Barajas airport. “I can’t say that I’m the best Spanish sports person of all time because I have no idea. But it’s an honor to be considered.”

Nadal’s 2010 triumphs, including French Open and Wimbledon titles, have brought his total of major championships to nine at age 24.

His successful season has been a big part of a tremendous year of international sporting success for Spain, which won soccer’s World Cup for the first time and saw Alberto Contador win his third Tour de France.

“I don’t know where (my successes) fit into this year. They are all important,” the top-ranked Nadal said. “Luckily, we’re living during an era of Spanish sport that will be difficult to repeat. Of course, we could repeat it, but we should enjoy it (now).”

Among Spain’s greatest athletes are the likes of five-time Tour champion Miguel Indurain and two-time Formula One world champion Fernando Alonso.

While Nadal has replaced four-time major champion Manolo Santana as the country’s greatest tennis player, the Mallorca native still feels he has room for improvement.

“I’m not a complete player—there are always things I can improve,” Nadal said. “(But) I’m so happy with everything that happened and can’t ask for anything more”

Nadal said winning three majors in 2010 wasn’t necessarily better than 2008, when he won his first Wimbledon crown and Olympic gold, something he considered more difficult than a Grand Slam title given the four-year gap between Olympic games. He also preferred to wait and see how he fares in the ATP final in November in London.

Nadal, whose improved serve helped him drop only one set at the U.S. Open en route to beating Novak Djokovic in the final, said his main rival Roger Federer was still the benchmark of the sport and should not be written off.

The second-ranked Swiss player, who has won a record 16 major singles titles, wasted two match points in his semifinal defeat to Djokovic.

“I would love to have the success of Federer,” Nadal said. “In nine years, he’s achieved things that are practically impossible to repeat. It’s difficult to be 100 percent each year, but he’s managed to do it and it’s normal to have a little drop.”

Sep 15, 2010

Stage is for Spain!

Spain’s golden time of sporting success just shining with new ray.
Rafael Nadal’s victory at the U.S. Open is the latest and remarkable triumph for Spain in a season-long fiesta on the international stage.
Spain won the World Cup in South Africa, Alberto Contador achieved his third Tour de France and Nadal completed a career Grand Slam on Monday night.
Nadal followed up his victories at the French Open and Wimbledon this summer by beating Novak Djokovic 6-4, 5-7, 6-4, 6-2 in the U.S. Open final for his ninth Grand Slam title. At age 24, the Mallorca native is being talked about as one of the greatest players of all time.
“He’s already a legend,” sports daily Marca said of Nadal, describing him as “the best in history” by this stage of his career.
Many newspapers were wondering if Nadal could be the greatest Spanish athlete of all time. Nadal also won Olympic gold in Beijing in 2008 and helped Spain to three of its four Davis Cup titles since 2004.
“History is at his feet,” Marca said.
El Pais wrote: “The Spaniard leaves the city that never sleeps with the most pleasant dream possible: champion, myth and, now, a legend.”
Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero praised Nadal in a telegram.
“Your name and your triumphs are now part of sports legend, and this makes all of us Spaniards proud. As expected, again you won your way: with effort, zeal to excel, elegance and spectacular play. Thanks for making us all rejoice and dream, yet again,” Zapatero wrote.
Spanish opposition leader Mariano Rajoy also paid tribute to Nadal.
“He really is something. We have to thank him because he makes us happy without asking for anything in exchange. No one gives as much as he does,” Rajoy said.
Davis Cup teammate Fernando Verdasco, who lost to Nadal in the U.S. Open quarterfinals, complimented his compatriot.
“Congratulations from here to Rafa Nadal for winning the, for the way he played and unbelievable (fourth) set with only 2 errors!” Verdasco wrote on his Twitter page. “So BIG!”
Nadal’s victory also raised the nation’s spirits after the only real disappointment this year: Spain’s national team failed to defend its world basketball championship title in Turkey, losing to Serbia in the quarterfinals.
But there could be more celebrations to come.
Spanish racing driver Fernando Alonso won the Italian Grand Prix on Sunday and is in contention for his third Formula One title.
However, now the time is for Spain!