The class of Federer

Sir, — A six-member panel of tennis experts assembled by the Associated Press, at the end of 1999, voted Laver, Sampras and Tilden, in that order, as the best ever male players. Now, Federer is fast emerging as a contender for the elite league.

That the opponents consider taking a set off Federer as a feat underlines the Swiss star's class.

In the recently concluded US Open, only Agassi managed to match up to Federer, and that too only in the second set of the final.

If only Federer raises his game to the next level on clay courts, he could well be ranked alongside Laver, Sampras and Tilden as the all-time best male players.

K. M. Chengappa Mysore Men of character

Sir, — At a time when finding another Ian Botham in English cricket was akin to sighting an Yeti, it is a stroke of great fortune that the country has managed to unearth not only an Yeti but a Lochness Monster as well, in Andrew Flintoff and Kevin Pietersen respectively!

What these men passed in the defining moments of the recent Ashes series was not a test of their skill (of which there was no doubt) but a more critical one — that of character!

They are men of rare pedigree and would leave an indelible mark in the annals of cricketing history.

Full marks to good old Ted for predicting this paradigm shift in world cricket (outcome of recent Ashes series) as long back as September 2004, soon after the ICC Trophy semifinals when England upset the Aussies.

Suresh Manoharan Hyderabad Kudos to England

Sir, — This is to congratulate the England team on winning the Ashes after 16 years. It was the best team effort by England, which picked up the habit of winning during the series against the West Indies.

After losing the first Test to Australia, England came into the series with a win and maintained the tempo to topple the world's best-ranked team. The Australians are not unbeatable any more. Our Indian team has proved it and now England.

Andrew Flintoff was simply fabulous. For the ageing Australian team, it was Shane Warne who stood out.

No doubt Australia was handicapped by injury to its strike bowler Glenn McGrath, but full credit to England, which played a far superior and aggressive cricket.

P. Kannan Srivilliputtur India hits the nadir

Sir, — The Indian cricket team would rank as one of the weakest sides in the world today. It should now play Bangladesh and Zimbabwe more often to build up its confidence. It's time for Sourav Ganguly to step down. The other left-hander Yuvraj Singh has ensured his place in the Indian team by only scoring against weaker teams. V. V. S. Laxman too is not above blame. He plays as if he is doing an advertisement.

Venugopala Rao got enough chances, but failed to make use of them. In international cricket, one has to grab opportunities with both hands, but our youngsters don't seem to have any interest in the game.

Pankaj Kumar Sinha Chennai Limit records

Sir, — Yelena Isinbayeva created history by crossing the five-metre barrier in women's pole vault. She has created 18 world records. Now she is at 5.01m. If she manages to clear 6.00m in future, then perhaps the number of records she breaks would be in excess of 50 in the form of 5.02m, 5.03m, 5.04m and so on.

In fact, there shouldn't be so many world records. Instead, the IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations) should enact a rule whereby the bar is placed in multiples of 0.5 — 5.05m, 5.10m, 5.15m, and so on. This will reduce the number of world records.

Sergei Bubka, after all, was known as an all-time great pole-vaulter and not as one who broke the world record 35 times.

Anil Sapre Gorakhpur