12 March 2003The Marketing Federation of Southern Africa (MFSA) was officially launched on Wednesday, with some 250 government dignitaries, marketing opinion leaders and journalists attending a breakfast event in Johannesburg.The Federation was established in October 2002 following the amalgamation of the Institute of Marketing Management, the Direct Marketing Association and the Association of Marketers, making it the most powerful marketing body in the country.The MFSA represents some 600 corporate members, 3 000 individuals and over 7 500 students, and according to general manager John Arnesen, enjoys “a rapidly growing support base among members who comprise a diverse array of marketers, ranging from entrepreneurial start-ups to powerful multinationals”.The MFSA has strong representation on industry bodies such as the Audit Bureau of Circulations, the Advertising Standards Authority, the National Postal Forum, SGB Marketing, the Marketing Industries Trust, and the South African Advertising and Research Foundation.For the advertising and marketing industry, the MFSA is home to the prestigious Loeries, Raptors, Assegais and Tusk Awards, which respectively recognise advertising creativity, sponsorship marketing, direct and interactive marketing, and individual and corporate excellence.A catalyst for changeThe Federation aims to become the chief driver for change and transformation within South Africa’s marketing industry.“While striving to become the home and voice of marketers in southern Africa, the Federation must also hold the torch for transformation within the marketing sector in the country”, says Jabu Mabuza, MFSA board chairman and CEO of Tsogo Sun.Davy Ivins, acting CEO of the MFSA, points out that the pace of change in the industry has been slow. “Transformation, is not merely the obligation of government. Industry must become active participants and supporters of transformation initiatives.”Ivins says the MFSA will be implementing an internal corporate transformation charter, and that it fully supports a transformation blueprint for the marketing industry.Ivins has also committed the MFSA to making resources available for encouraging and monitoring transformational progress, to supporting the formation of a multi-disciplinary industry forum to ensure focus and change, and to provide more information and better research.Although a large amount of work still needs to be done, Ivins takes encouragement from statistics provided by the MFSA’s education and training subsidiary, the IMM Graduate School of Marketing, which indicate that 57% of students are black and 49% female. He also states that of the 214 qualified chartered marketers – the highest professional qualification for marketers – in South Africa, 40% are black.“This indicates that the face of marketing is changing, but there is still a need to sustain and add momentum to this process. The MFSA is well positioned to do this”, says Ivins.SouthAfrica.info reporter
The Naveen Patnaik government launched its own food security scheme on the occasion of Gandhi Jayanti on Tuesday, benefiting 25 lakh people who were left out of the National Food Security Act.“On Gandhi Jayanti, launched Odisha’s own food security scheme to benefit 25 lakh vulnerable populace that were excluded from coverage; sufficient and nutritious food is a basic need and prerequisite for a healthy Odisha, as a part of our resolve to eradicate hunger in Odisha,” said Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik in a tweet after launching the scheme. The beneficiaries will get 5 kg of rice per person per month at the rate of ₹1 per kg, said the Chief Minister while launching the scheme at four different districts through videoconferencing from the State Secretariat here.The State government will spend ₹443.5 crore per annum to support the scheme and ₹221.75 crore in the current financial year, Mr. Patnaik added.The State government had decided to launch its own food security scheme after the Centre did not respond to its request to add additional beneficiaries under the NFSA.
Church, environmentalists ask DENR to revoke ECC of Quezon province coal plant Trump strips away truth with hunky topless photo tweet Rachel Ann Daquis. Photo by Tristan Tamayo/INQUIRER.netWith her lean 5-foot-10 frame, flawless skin and winsome smile, Rachel Anne Daquis easily catches everyone’s attention. The highly popular open spiker for Cignal in the Philippine Superliga also happens to be a force on the hard court.A champion many times over with Far Eastern University in the UAAP, as well as with Philippine Army and Petron in volleyball’s commercial leagues, Daquis won the Most Valuable Player award in the 2015 PSL All Filipino Cup, which the Blaze Spikers won via 13-0 sweep.ADVERTISEMENT LATEST STORIES National Coffee Research Development and Extension Center brews the 2nd National Coffee Education Congress Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss PLAY LIST 02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games View comments Yet, instead of moping, she stepped down from the national team and said she would take a “specialized training course” abroad to help her earn credentials as a future fitness guru.“It was a very difficult decision for me because I have always aspired to represent our country,” Daquis said in a statement. “I am very grateful that you (national coaches) have considered me to be included in the team lineup. But I feel that there are other more capable candidates who can contribute more effectively to the team given the other priorities in my life that I must consider.”That’s Daquis gracefully telling them: If you’re not giving me my rightful place in the grand ball, I’m skipping the party altogether.Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next FEU Auditorium’s 70th year celebrated with FEU Theater Guild’s ‘The Dreamweavers’ Lacson: SEA Games fund put in foundation like ‘Napoles case’ Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Hotel says PH coach apologized for ‘kikiam for breakfast’ claim Keeping up with Kobe That may explain the uproar in social media when she was relegated to the reserve list of the Philippine team that will see action in the Southeast Asian Games and the Asian Seniors tournament next month. After all, to paraphrase a classic line from the movie “Dirty Dancing,” “nobody puts Rachel in a corner.”For years, the 29-year-old Daquis painstakingly earned the tag “Face of Philippine volleyball.” During the Singapore SEA Games two years ago, giant posters bearing her image—she was an endorser for a top sports manufacturing company— adorned big malls around the Lion City’s OCBC Arena.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSSEA Games: Biñan football stadium stands out in preparedness, completionSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSWin or don’t eat: the Philippines’ poverty-driven, world-beating pool starsDaquis has represented the country in international tournaments since 2011 and was part of the pioneering PSL-Manila squad that played in the FIVB World Clubs Championships in 2016.Fast-forward to last May’s AVC Asian Club Championship in Kazakhstan, where Daquis served as team captain of Philippine representative Rebisco-PSL and played the part well. She was on top of everything, from the team’s airport check-ins, to the daily bus rides, to the team bull sessions. Ethel Booba on hotel’s clarification that ‘kikiam’ is ‘chicken sausage’: ‘Kung di pa pansinin, baka isipin nila ok lang’ El Nido residents told to vacate beach homes MOST READ Over breakfast at Shiny River Hotel in Ust-Kamenogorsk, head coach Francis Vicente, worried sick by the bashing the national team was receiving in social media, tried to lighten the mood of the girls. After five matches in five days the team still could not buy a win against stronger clubs.“Hey, girls, have you said hello to your bashers this morning?” Vicente asked his players.Daquis offered a reply for the team in Filipino: “No coach. We have stopped checking [our social media accounts]. All we know is that we’re all very pretty!”Her remark brought the house down and conveyed the correct attitude the team, including Vicente himself, took to ward off online critics.So after Daquis was unceremoniously cut from the national team’s final roster by the coaching staff, supposedly in favor of younger and stronger open hitters, the news stunned her legions of fans, probably more than Daquis herself.ADVERTISEMENT
college spun staff picks week 7Week six of the college football season produced a few big upsets, like Washington over USC and Texas over Oklahoma, along with a few almost-upsets, like Michigan State vs. Rutgers, TCU vs. Kansas State and Florida State vs. Miami (FL). Week seven is shaping up to be the most interesting of the season thus far, however.This week, we’ve got UCLA vs. Stanford, Michigan vs. Michigan State, Alabama vs. Texas A&M, Florida vs. LSU and USC vs. Notre Dame. Currently, Matt Hladik and Dustin Tackett hold a slim lead over the field in our weekly competition. Here are our picks for this weekend’s games:Who do you have?
VANCOUVER, B.C. — Here are some key dates in the history of the Trans Mountain pipeline and Kinder Morgan Canada’s efforts to expand its capacity:October 1953: The Trans Mountain pipeline begins shipping oil with an initial capacity of 150,000 barrels per day. The project features four pump stations along its 1,150-kilometre route and a marine dock that connects loading facilities on the east side of Edmonton with ocean tankers in Burnaby, B.C.1957: Pipeline capacity is expanded via the construction of a 160-kilometre pipeline loop. The Westridge Marine Terminal is built and commissioned in Burnaby, B.C. Jan. 12, 2016: Alberta Premier Rachel Notley says in a written submission to the NEB that the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion is in the best interests of both Alberta and Canada.Jan. 27, 2016: The federal Liberal government says pipeline projects such as the Trans Mountain expansion will now be assessed in part on the greenhouse gas emissions produced in the extraction and processing of the oil they carry. Proponents will also be required to improve consultations with First Nations.May 17, 2016: Ottawa appoints a three-member panel to conduct an environmental review of the Trans Mountain expansion project.May 29, 2016: The NEB recommends approval of the pipeline, subject to 157 conditions, concluding that it is in the public interest. Jan. 14, 1985: Trans Mountain’s biggest spill occurs at a tank farm in the Edmonton area. Nearly 10,000 barrels of oil are released.2006 – 2008: The Anchor Loop project adds 160 kilometres of new pipeline through Jasper National Park and Mount Robson Provincial Park between Hinton, Alta., and Hargreaves, B.C. The extension includes 13 new pump stations and modifications to existing stations, increasing capacity from 260,000 bpd to 300,000 bpd.Feb. 21, 2012: Kinder Morgan says it wants to expand the Trans Mountain pipeline after receiving support from oil shippers and will begin public consultations.Dec. 16, 2013: An application is made to the National Energy Board (NEB) to expand the Trans Mountain pipeline. Construction is proposed to begin in 2017, with the aim of having oil flow through the expansion by December 2019.November 2014: More than 100 people are arrested after they camp out in a conservation area on Burnaby Mountain, east of Vancouver, to block crews from conducting drilling and survey work related to the pipeline expansion. Most of the charges are later dropped.August 2015: The NEB postpones public hearings after striking from the record economic evidence prepared by a Kinder Morgan consultant who was to begin working for the regulator. Nov. 29, 2016: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sanctions the Trans Mountain expansion, part of a sweeping announcement that also saw approval of Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline replacement but the end of its Northern Gateway project.Jan. 11, 2017: B.C. Premier Christy Clark announces her support for the project, saying Kinder Morgan has met five government conditions including a revenue-sharing agreement worth up to $1 billion.May 15, 2017: The Federal Court of Appeal grants Notley’s government intervener status in a lawsuit filed by municipalities and First Nations against the project.May 25, 2017: Kinder Morgan makes its final investment decision to proceed with the development, now estimated to cost $7.4 billion, subject to the successful public offering of Kinder Morgan Canada.May 29, 2017: The B.C. NDP and Greens agree to form a coalition to topple the Liberal party, which won a minority government in an election earlier in the month. The parties agree to “immediately employ every tool available” to stop the project.May 30, 2017: Kinder Morgan Canada debuts on the Toronto Stock Exchange after a $1.75-billion public offering.June 29, 2017: The B.C. Liberals lose a no-confidence vote, clearing the way for NDP Leader John Horgan to become premier.Aug. 10, 2017: The B.C. NDP government hires former judge Thomas Berger to provide legal advice as it seeks intervener status in the legal challenges against the project filed by municipalities and First Nations.Oct. 26, 2017: Kinder Morgan Canada asks NEB to allow work to begin despite a failure to obtain municipal permits from the City of Burnaby.Dec. 7, 2017: NEB allows Kinder Morgan Canada to bypass Burnaby bylaws.Jan. 17, 2018: Kinder Morgan Canada warns the Trans Mountain expansion project could be a year behind schedule.Jan. 18, 2018: NEB establishes a process to resolve permitting issues between Kinder Morgan Canada and provincial and municipal authorities.Jan. 30, 2018: B.C. government moves to restrict any increase in diluted bitumen shipments until it conducts more spill response studies, a move that increases the uncertainty for Trans Mountain.March 9, 2018: B.C. Supreme Court grants interim injunction aimed at preventing anti-pipeline activists from protesting construction at two terminals in Burnaby.March 15, 2018: B.C. Supreme Court grants indefinite injunction preventing protesters from coming within five metres of two work sites for the project.March 23, 2018: Green Party Leader Elizabeth May and New Democrat MP Kennedy Stewart arrested at a protest against the pipeline expansion; Federal Court of Appeal dismisses a B.C. government bid challenging a NEB ruling that allows Kinder Morgan Canada to bypass local bylaws.March 27, 2018: City of Burnaby, B.C., says it will file an appeal to the Supreme Court in connection with the Federal Court of Appeal ruling.April 8, 2018: Kinder Morgan Canada suspends non-essential spending on the Trans Mountain expansion project and sets a May 31 deadline to reach agreements with stakeholders.
Kolkata: Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s pet project Kanyashree, which has garnered worldwide recognition, has come as a boon to girls coming from economically challenged families, with aspirations of higher education.Case in point, the project has helped the students of Muralidhar Girls’ College to carry on with higher education. Around 125 students of the college got benefits of the project in 2016-17, while around 155 were benefitted in 2017-18 and around 240 in 2018-19. Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari Puja”I come from a very modest background and there was a time when I did not know whether I could pursue my true passion, which is dance. After receiving Kanyashree, I gathered the courage to start a dance class and am happy to see my life getting transformed,” said Bishakha Das, daughter of a domestic help. She is pursuing her Bachelor’s degree in Mass Communication at Muralidhar Girls’ College. “Receiving Kanyashree in 2017 has greatly helped me in meeting my education cost as I come from a poor family,” said Nasifa Ali, a former student of Muralidhar who is now pursuing a Master’s degree in Applied Psychology. Also Read – Bengal civic volunteer dies in road mishap on national highway”I could buy instruments after receiving the money from Kanyashree scholarship in 2019, which has been of great help to a folk music aspirant like me,” said Sonali Haldar, an inter-collegiate music winner, and a student of Arts stream in Muralidhar Girls’ College. “In 2019 I received a Kanyashree scholarship and the amount has been helpful towards my education expenses,” maintained Tuktuki Ruidas, a student in general stream at Muralidhar College, who is also a running enthusiast. “Today when I see my students I feel immense pride and happiness that many unsure and underconfident young women have been transformed through this institute’s continued efforts and Kanyashree into confident and bright women of the future. The college, as many would know, did not earlier have the Science stream but coming from a background in Chemistry, I thought the knowledge of science was very integral to women’s education,” said Kinjalkini Biswas, principal of the college, while paying her homage to Muralidhar Bandyopadhyay, educationist and visionary whose birthday was on Tuesday. To mark the occasion, Kavita Singh, associate professor, West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences, Kolkata, gave a lecture on women empowerment. Muralidhar Girls’ College was initially the Ballygunge Uchho Balika Vidyalaya, which was set up in 1919. It was later converted to Muralidhar Girls’ College in 1940, affiliated to The University of Calcutta.
Kotshila/Hura (Purulia): West Bengal chief minister and TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee Wednesday said that her government has been able to usher in peace in tribal Jungalmahal area. The people of Jungalmahal, the forested tribal area of the state, were afraid of both CPI(M) and the naxals during the Left Front rule, she said. But the scenario has changed in the area, which comrpise Jhargram, West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia districts, Banerjee said at an election rally at Kotshila in Purulia district. Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari Puja “We have been able to establish peace in Purulia and Junglemahal area and many developmental works have been undertaken – mainly water-related projects,” she said. Criticising Prime Minister Narendra Modi, she said he has done nothing in the last five years. “Do not vote for BJP. They will do nothing and only dish out lies and make people fight against each other”, the fiesty TMC leader said. Banerjee, who had spearheaded the anti-land acquisition movements at Singur and Nandigram, said that her government would protect the rights of adivasis including their claim over land. At another rally at Hura in the same district, she said the government is planning an airport at Charra to connect the district with Kolkata and other places. She urged the electorate to help TMC wrest all the 42 seats in the state.
Tehran: Iran said Wednesday it had stopped respecting limits on its nuclear activities agreed under a 2015 deal with major powers until they find a way to bypass renewed US sanctions. The well trailed announcement came as Washington stepped up its rhetoric against Tehran, accusing it of planning “imminent” attacks and deploying an aircraft carrier strike group with several nuclear-capable B-52 bombers to the region. Iran said it was responding to the sweeping unilateral sanctions that Washington has reimposed since it quit the agreement one year ago, which have dealt a severe blow to the Iranian economy. Also Read – Saudi Crown Prince Salman ‘snubbed’ Pak PM Imran, recalled his private jet from US: ReportIt said it would stop implementing some of the restrictions it had agreed with immediate effect. Tehran said it would abandon more if the remaining parties to the agreement — Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia — failed to start delivering on their commitments to sanctions relief within 60 days. President Hassan Rouhani underlined that the ultimatum was intended to rescue the nuclear deal from his US counterpart Donald Trump who has repeatedly called for it to be scrapped since he pulled out on May 8, 2018. Also Read – Iraq military admits ‘excessive force’ used in deadly protests”We felt the (deal) needed surgery and that the year-long sedatives have not delivered any result. This surgery is meant to save the (deal) not destroy it,” Rouhani said at a cabinet meeting broadcast live on state television. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who is on an official visit to Moscow, stressed Iran’s actions were not in breach of the nuclear deal, which UN inspectors have repeatedly certified its compliance with. “We are not operating outside of the JCPOA (nuclear deal) but are in fact working in its framework,” Zarif told state television. Under the landmark deal agreed by Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama, the parties to the agreement were supposed to lift nuclear-related sanctions on Iran in return for it reining in its activities to ease fears it was seeking the capability to produce an atomic bomb. But the promised sanctions relief has failed to materialise as European and Asian banks and oil companies have moved swiftly to abide by the renewed US sanctions for fear of financial or commercial repercussions. Rouhani slammed European countries for seeing the US as the world’s “sheriff” and said this keeps them from making “firm decisions for their own national interests.” “You have responsibilities, too … for keeping your youth away from drugs, the flood of immigrants and other cooperation Iran has had with you so far. If this trend continues, the cooperation will cease.” The three European parties to the deal — Britain, France and Germany — tried to save the accord with a trade mechanism meant to bypass reimposed US sanctions, but their attempt was dismissed by Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as a “bitter joke”. China underlined that it “resolutely opposes” the unilateral sanctions imposed by the United States on Iran but called on all parties to uphold the nuclear deal. “We call on all relevant parties to exercise restraint, strengthen dialogue and avoid escalating tensions,” foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said. Russia said it remained committed to the nuclear deal and denounced what it called “unreasonable pressure” on Iran. Iran’s Supreme National Security Council said the measures were necessary to “secure its rights and bring back balance” after the unilateral moves by the Trump administration. “The Islamic Republic of Iran does not at the current stage consider itself committed to observing restrictions regarding storing enriched uranium stocks and heavy water stocks,” the Supreme National Security Council said. “The remaining parties to the (deal) are given 60 days to implement their commitments, in particular in the fields of banking and oil,” the council added. “In the next stage Iran will also stop observing restrictions on the level of uranium enrichment and measures regarding modernising Arak heavy water reactor.” Uranium enriched to much higher levels than Iran’s current stocks can be used as the fissile core of a nuclear weapon, while heavy water is a source of plutonium which can be used as an alternative way to produce a warhead. The council called for swift action by the remaining parties to the deal, warning time was running out. “The window which is now open for diplomacy will not remain so for long, and the responsibility of the (deal) failing and any possibile consequences are completely on the US and the remaining parties,” it said. On the eve of the Iranian announcement, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made an unannounced visit to Baghdad in an effort to consolidate relations as Washington pushes ahead with its “maximum pressure” against Tehran — a US arch-rival, but an ally of Iraq. Pompeo said he made the trip because Iranian forces are “escalating their activity” and said the threat of attacks was “very specific”. He declined to go into further detail on the alleged plot, which has been met with scepticism in many quarters, with leading Democratic lawmakers fearing that Trump’s administration is seeking to spark a war with Iran. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has been a consistent opponent of the nuclear deal, seized on the Iranian announcement as evidence that it was pressing ahead with its nuclear programme. “We shall not allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon,” he said.
Patna: A clash of titans is on the cards in Patna Sahib where Shatrughan Sinha is seeking to retain the seat for a third consecutive term, this time on a Congress ticket, surmounting a formidable challenge posed by Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad. Altogether 18 candidates are in the fray for the constituency, which covers the entire Patna city and a part of the outskirts, though the contest is being viewed as essentially a straight one between the actor-turned-politician and Prasad. Named after a centuries-old Sikh shrine located on the banks of the Ganga where Guru Gobind Singh was born and spent his early childhood, Patna Sahib Lok Sabha seat came into being in the delimitation of 2008 and Sinha won it in the 2009 and retained the seat five years later. Nicknamed ‘Bihari Babu’ by virtue of his professed attachment to his home state, the flamboyant actor of yesteryears sounds confident of making a hat-trick as he points out “I have won the seat in the past two elections with margins that were the highest for Bihar. This was because of the immense love people have for me. Moreover, I am not a usual party-hopper. The circumstances under which I had to quit the BJP are known to all.” Associated with the saffron party since the early 1990s when it was not much of a force to reckon with, Sinha fell out with the BJP leadership after the ascension of Narendra Modi and the anointment of his confidant Amit Shah as the party’s national president. The outspoken former Bollywood star made his discomfiture with the party leadership public on many an occasion while he was still with the BJP which he had been describing, for quite some time, as a “one man army and two man show”. The announcement of Prasad as the BJP candidate from his seat proved to be the last straw for Sinha, who switched over to the Congress, which fielded him from his sitting seat. The BJP is, however, dismissive of his prospects and asserts that Sinha’s stellar victories were on account of his association with the party. Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi, arguably the tallest BJP leader from the state, who has never been on good terms with Sinha, points out, “Five out of the six assembly segments falling under Patna Sahib are held by the BJP. This was despite the fact our party faced an uphill task in the assembly polls wherein Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad had joined hands.” “Nitish is now back with us and so is Ram Vilas Paswan who was not in 2009. So our prospects are stronger than ever. Combine that with the unquestionable popularity of Narendra Modi and the fact that the Congress is a spent force in Bihar. Shatrughan Sinha should consider himself lucky if he finds even a polling agent,” Modi says. The Congress, meanwhile, is canvassing in favour of the new entrant with uncharacteristic vigour and is being assisted in the same by its formidable ally, the RJD, which had won one of the six assembly segments here and lost another with a thin margin to the BJP. Parties like the Aam Aadmi Party, the CPI and the CPI(M), not of much electoral consequence, have also extended their support in the interest of “secularism and defeating the BJP” and their volunteers are doing their bit to add spice to the campaign of the actor who is considered a staid electioneer despite his gift of the gab. One crucial factor, which worries the BJP and Sinha too is known to be secretly banking upon, is the disgruntlement that Prasad’s candidature has caused to Rajya Sabha member Ravindra Kishore Sinha, who wanted the seat for himself or his son Rituraj. Founder of security solutions behemoth SIS, Ravindra Kishore Sinha is said to be quite popular among members of the Kayastha caste, numerically small overall but in sizeable numbers in the state capital, whom he is known to help in times of distress, financially and otherwise. The Akhil Bharatiya Kayastha Mahasabha – which claims to have some influence among the largely urbane and highly fractured community – had even come out with a statement that it would not support the BJP candidate unless it happened to be RK Sinha. R K Sinha last month had a closed door, hour-long meeting here with Bhaiyaji Joshi – the number 2 in Sangh Parivar – which was seen as a damage control exercise by the saffron conglomerate. Trying to fish in troubled waters, Shatrughan Sinha had remarked a few days later, “I have personal regard for RK Sinha, who is my senior. The party did not do justice to him by denying him the party ticket. Had he been fielded, it would have forced me to have second thoughts about taking him on.” When R K Sinha was recently approached for his reaction on “Shotgun” (another epithet associated with the actor) sounding confident of his victory, he said, “I can assure you I will come to Patna to cast my vote for Ravi Shankar Prasad on polling day” but added cryptically “Shatrughan Sinha is a senior and experienced leader. If he says he can win, he must be having reasons to do so.”
At a recent practice in Mons, Belgium, the country’s former leading man and its current top tennis player traded missiles from the baseline. Olivier Rochus grunted as he leapt into his classical one-handed backhand, while David Goffin quietly parried with groundstrokes into the corners. Goffin won most of the exchanges, and all 10 of the games.Rochus showed his frustration after it was done by sending a ball into the stands at the Lotto Mons Expo, where Belgium’s biggest men’s tennis tournament is taking place this week. But in a court-side interview afterwards, Rochus, who is 33 and retiring after this tournament, pointed out that he is in good company. “When my opponent is way better, what can you say? … It’s not only tough for me, it’s tough for everybody. I’m not the only one losing,” he said.Just about everyone is losing to the 23-year-old Goffin these days. From the start of July to the start of this tournament, Goffin won 34 of 36 matches, including the first 25, improving his ranking from 106th in the world to No. 31. In his 34 wins, he lost just four sets, and has been forced into just five tiebreakers. The rest of the sets he won decisively, seven by 6-0 and 11 by 6-1.Goffin’s glorious two and a half months had yielded nearly as much success as he had achieved in his prior four years as a pro. He’s won 17 tour-level matches and roughly $340,000 in earnings, increasing his career totals by about a half and a third, respectively.Goffin’s winning run is only matched in the last decade by the players who have been No. 1 during that time: Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. No one else since 2004 has won 25 straight matches at tour, tour qualifying or challenger events, according to ATP World Tour stats guru Greg Sharko.Evidently, there are two ways to pull off a 25-match winning streak in tennis today: Be one of the best players of all time, or do what Goffin has done — set yourself an easy schedule and combine it with luck and improved play. Tennis players, unlike, say, NFL teams, can decide which events they play. Goffin and his coach chose ones with relatively weak fields — just nine of Goffin’s 34 wins were against players ranked above him — and now the young Belgian is on a winning run usually only experienced by the game’s very best.Winning brings ranking points, which means easier draws. It also brings money, which can be invested in coaches, physical trainers and more comfortable travel. The downside of winning is that it leaves little time for rest and for major work in practice. And if it comes against easy opponents, it may not provide useful preparation for tougher ones.But there are psychological advantages to winning. “You don’t doubt, you just attack every ball and then you are sure the ball will be in the court. It’s a great feeling,” Goffin said.Before his recent run, Goffin had been most famous for his losses. He made his Grand Slam debut as a lucky loser, snagging a spot in the draw despite losing in the last round of qualifying. He parlayed that berth in the 2012 French Open into a fourth-round loss to Federer, his childhood idol, and attained fame for smiling through an on-court interview afterward with the man whose face adorned posters on Goffin’s childhood bedroom walls. Goffin’s later Grand Slam losses also were to top players: Six of nine came to players seeded in the Top 10, four of those in the first round. The lucky loser had become an unlucky loser.Goffin sensed he was improving before his results did. In March of this year he started working with his current coach, Thierry van Cleemput, and began enjoying tennis again, shedding the defensiveness and doubtfulness that had plagued his game. But he kept running into tough competition, culminating with what van Cleemput called a “nightmare” of a draw in Wimbledon, against defending champion Andy Murray in the first round.Goffin and his coach decided it was time to step down a level. As most of the tour’s top players either rested after Wimbledon or moved to hard courts to prepare for the U.S. Open, Goffin stayed in Europe, on clay, entering a tournament in each week of July: three challengers — a rung below tour level — and one at the bottom level of the tour. He won all four tournaments. (Up until then, he had never won more than eight straight matches.) Then he came to the U.S. and won seven of nine matches — taking a set 6-0 off No. 8 Grigor Dimitrov. Back in Europe, he won seven straight matches, to send Belgium back to the top level of the Davis Cup and to win his second career title, again at the bottom level of the tour.“We decided to play some challengers to try to win some matches and to get some confidence,” Goffin said. “The level was there in practice and against Murray, but what I needed was to win some matches and to play a lot of matches.” He added, “I didn’t expect to win so many matches.” After all, he hadn’t made it past the quarterfinals of the four prior challengers he’d played this year.Van Cleemput said he and his young charge have been “lucky.” The coach is setting expectations low, despite Goffin’s recent run. Van Cleemput said Goffin’s target is for a career like that of No. 23 Alexandr Dolgopolov, a player from Ukraine who has never reached a Grand Slam semifinal or been ranked in the Top 10. Goffin has earned more ranking points since Wimbledon than five members of the Top 10, but van Cleemput isn’t expecting him to join that group any time soon. “The first objective now is to confirm the level of top 40, and to come near the level of the top 30,” he said. “The reality is important, not to dream all the time.”Recent tennis history supports the coach’s caution. Federer, Nadal and Djokovic didn’t play any challengers during their 25-match winning streaks. Much less familiar names precede Goffin’s on the list of players to win three straight challengers in the past 10 years. None has ever been ranked in the Top 30.It’s not only luck and easy opposition that has propelled Goffin to new heights. It’s also his serve. He hit aces on more than one in nine service points in eight of his 14 tour-level matches on hard courts this summer. He’d done that in just three of 50 prior hard-court matches at that level. It’s a remarkable feat for a player who is 5’11.” Height translates into the ability to hit at a sharper downward angle without the net getting in the way, which makes it easier to hit serves that are both fast and in the box. No one under 6′ has won a Grand Slam title in the past decade.Dolgopolov, the tour’s best sub-6-foot server, raises his contact point by leaping into the air. Goffin’s service motion is striking for how little he gets off the ground. Van Cleemput said his main intervention was to change Goffin’s toss and to emphasize the follow-through.Van Cleemput wants to get Goffin leaping higher on his serve, and to improve his strength and fitness. But when his player keeps playing events late into each week, he doesn’t get much time to work with him. For now, most of Goffin’s practice sessions are live matches.Goffin is confident he’ll have plenty of chances to work on his game and to keep getting better. “I have a lot of years in the future to do some good things,” he said — though he may never do anything as good as his unbeaten late-summer run.