Stepanek shines, Ronaldo shuts out Ibra, France glow and Chhetri claims record. What a week!

And it’s hard to hold a candle in the cold November pain. This isn’t another one on Sachin Tendulkar, not yet. Sportoholic wil give him his space. Someday, we will return to the great man because writing about him is cathartic and there is an untold one.

This week it is about some great performances — from Radek Stepanek, Cristiano Ronaldo, the French football team and Sunil Chhetri.

At the outset, our Leander Paes must be congratulated for being a scary judge of talent. His doubles partnership with Stepanek is one of the most exciting on the tennis circuit.

Stepanek doesn’t do English too well (the articulate Leander does most of the talking), but boy oh boy, he has always been the one of those endowed with that unexplained X-factor.

Why get all excited about a dude from the Czech Republic who did not exactly set the tennis world afire. He was a fine singles player, but it just did not add up for him. He had his moments.

He beat Roger Federer on a couple of occasions when the Swiss maestro was heads and shoulders above mortals. He is also part of tennis trivia, by virtue of having dated Swiss tennis star Martina Hingis.

At 34, Stepanek cannot roll back the years, but no one can take away his heart. He has delivered a second successive Davis Cup title to his country. The Czechs upstaged Serbia, who had the ace in Novak Djokovic, but no other card.

Stepanek has become the first player in the history of the event to seal consecutive Davis Cup finals in the decisive fifth match. Last year, he had taken out Spain’s Nicolas Almagro.

Leander, who has been recommended for the Padma Bhushan, has a lot to look forward to on the circuit in partnership with Stepanek.

No Zlatan Ibrahimovic in World Cup, blame it on the magnificent Cristiano Ronaldo

Portugal are going to the World Cup in Brazil next year, Sweden and their enigmatic star Zlatan Ibrahimovic won’t.

Cristiano Ronaldo knocked the stuffing out of Sweden with a hat-trick in the second leg of their play-off. The Portuguese carried a 1-0 win from the first leg.

This sportoholic is not a Ronaldo fan, but has learnt to honour expert opinion that the man dubbed CR7 is the most complete football player in the world now.

The clash of two football stars lived up to the billing. Sad that a World Cup berth was on the line.

There will be no magical Ibra ka dabra displays in Brazil. Along with his shooting skills with the feet, he is quick to shoot from the hip as well. This endears him to his fans.

Ibra hasn’t disappointed. After the tough loss, he has declared that a World Cup deprived of his talent is not worth watching.

We will see about that.

France too made the Brazil cut with a 3-0 turnaround win over Ukraine. The French overcame a 2-0 deficit from the first leg.

With the stirring win, they became the first European team to overturn a 2-0 first leg deficit and qualify for the World Cup.

With their pedigree, missing the bus to Brazil would have been a tragedy.

Great going Sunil Chhetri

By scoring the opening goal in a 2-0 win over Nepal in a friendly, the Indian football team skipper has become the top scorer for the country.

His 43rd international goal took him past former skipper Bhaichung Bhutia’s 42.

Bhaichung, who was in the stands at the match in Siliguri, came down at the pitch after the tie and hugged Chhetri.

After Bhaichung’s retirement, Chhetri is the torchbearer.

We don’t shake up the planet’s football order, but those Indians who play the world’s most popular sport win sportoholic’s support.

Before signing off, apologies to Guns N’ Roses for taking liberties with their stunning ballad November Rain.

Be a sport. Keep playing.

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