Posts Tagged ‘tennis masters cup’

kolya wants a tan!!

November 19, 2007

nikolay davydenko

What a difference a year makes. Here’s a photo of Nikolay Davydenko at the end of 2006 without a care in the world: he’d just gotten married to Irina, he finished the year at number three, and added four singles titles to his trophy case.

Whodathunk that a year later he’d be embroiled in a nasty match-fixing scandal and get unfairly slapped with a fine for tanking? None of this helped Kolya as he compiled a dismal 1-2 record at the 2007 Tennis Masters Cup (losing to Roddick and Federer). But with one of the tanking fines reversed — and a win over Fernando Gonzalez (involving some fine net play) — the Russian seemed to end his 2007 on a high note. Happy, tired, relieved, and not at all disappointed with his Shanghai play.

Here are some other things Kolya shed light on during the interview after his match with Gonzo:

On his commitment to play the Beijing Olympics –happening in the middle of the U.S. Open Series — in light of his announcement of a lighter tourney schedule in 2008. (Even though Kolya’s style of play is easy on his body, his 2007 playing schedule wasn’t):

“You know, tough questions. Yes, because normally you play for the country, for the Russia. Doesn’t matter where is it Olympic Games in Shanghai, Australia. You need to fly. We fly from America, Cincinnati. Try to prepare, try to play very good in China, and then come back to America. It’s pretty tough. Pretty tough flight. But we try the best.”

And on his post-TMC break in the Maldives:

“For me it’s important I try mentally to recovery and, you know, to be a little bit brown. My color changing (smiling). And then, you know, it’s my happy face coming to Davis Cup final.”

We can’t wait to see your tan, Nikolay. And love it while it lasts — something tells me that Portland’s gloom will suck all the color right back out!

FYI: The Davis Cup World Group Final between Russia and the United States will take place in Portland, Ore. from Nov. 30-Dec. 2, 2007.

(photo by Getty Images)

the perils of round robin

November 19, 2007

Humility at the top

For as many perks allowed by reaching the year-end top eight of men’s tennis — the glory, the attention, the serious cash, not to mention those crazy year-ending suits — participating in the Tennis Masters Cup (Shanghai) also has a potential downside: losing multiple matches in a week.

In fact, the round-robin draw makes it so a few players have to lose two matches in the week. There’s even a chance that at least one formerly-confident fellow will take an ego beat-down and lose three. I recall Juan Carlos Ferrero in 2003 walking off the court humbled and frustrated after losing his third (and final) match. More recently, Guillermo Coria racked up consecutive 0-3 TMC records — in ’04 and ’05.

This year, thanks to Kolya squeaking out a round-robin win over the spent Gonzo, the 0-fer honor went to Nole Djokovic. If it weren’t for the signs of burnout that Novak had coming into the Masters Cup, he’s about the last player of the octet you’d expect to get served a big slice of that humbling pie.

Novak put up a good fight in each performance — and he had his overzealous stage parents cheering him on — so I’m pretty sure the showman and athlete we got to know this year hasn’t disappeared. Something tells us that after some rest in a place “far, far away from everybody”, he’ll come out alright in ’08.


Michael Shaw writes about tennis and other subjects for the
Los Angeles Times, and is also an artist. He can be reached at michaelshaw_sar AT yahoo DOT com. Read his previous posts for TSF here.

focus: qizhong stadium

November 15, 2007

qi zhong stadium

Since 2005, Shanghai has hosted the Tennis Masters Cup, the ATP Tour’s year-end tournament. It wasn’t lost on TSF that the facility, completed in October ’05, was erected specifically for this purpose.

Scorelines: Rafa Nadal and David Ferrer have reached the semifinals from the Gold Group. Had Ferrer not routed Richard Gasquet 6-1, 6-1, the Frenchman would be in the semis instead of Rafa. Meanwhile, the Red Group semis are still up in the air, with Roger Federer, Andy Roddick, and Fernando Gonzalez still in contention. Barring injury withdrawals from these three, Nikolay Davydenko is officially out of the tournament.

FYI: The Shanghai Qizhong Forest Sports City Tennis Center is located in the Minhang District, southwest of the city. The environmentally-conscious design was the brainchild of architect Mitsuru Senda and his Environment Design Institute (EDI). “In many cases, sports facilities involve very big spaces,” says EDI’s design policy, “and it is therefore necessary to consider closely just what influence they will have on the surrounding environment.”

From this philosophy came a 15,000-seat arena considered the largest tennis venue in Asia. A bird’s-eye view of the arena’s roof shows a peony, which is an homage to the country’s national (favorite) flower. The roof, capable of withstanding typhoon-strong winds, consists of eight retractable “petals” which take 8 minutes to retract or cover the stadium.

qi zhong stadium

See more photos of the stadium (plus a virtual tour) after the cut…

clement to 2007: peace out!

November 15, 2007

arnaud clement 2007

Arnaud Clement and his doubles partner Michael Llodra (not pictured) have not been doing so well post-season; their seventh-seeded pairing lost all three of their round-robin matches at the Tennis Masters Cup Shanghai, first to Knowles and Nestor 2-6, 7-5, 10-5, then to Dlouhy and Vizner 3-6, 6-3, 10-5, and finally to Aspelin and Knowles 6-3, 7-5.

Have a good vacay and we’ll see you rowdy Frenchmen in 2008!

(photos by Getty Images)

the masters cup without its gaucho

November 13, 2007

Let there not be any doubt that the real story (and prologue) of this year’s Tennis Masters Cup is David Nalbandian’s absence, a matter well-noted by NYT’s Chris Clarey.

I, for one, can forgive him for not making the schlep from Argentina to Shanghai — a trip which would have demanded a minimum of 32 hours travel time from Buenos Aires, one way — to be the first alternate. True, he won the Cup as an alternate in ’05, but he’s just won two Masters Series events in less than 3 weeks; why risk jet lag if all he’s going to do is keep the bench warm (Tommy Robredo is doing a mighty fine job of doing so, by the way)? This way, Nalbandian gets to end his 2007 season on a high note.

This year’s eight-man draw seems to be missing an ingredient -– a sauce, or perhaps some spices -– to make things interesting. Despite the close contest between Roddick and Davydenko, I slogged through it impatiently. Maybe there’s more to be said for style — both in fashion and play -– than some (at least those not familiar with this blog) may think. Without a stylist to counter their respectively stiff presences, there’s little flavor to find here.

The exception, of course, was the match between Roger Federer and Fernando Gonzalez, a battle so moist, it needed extra bread to soak up all the sauce. Once the inevitable (Federer taking his 11th straight win over Fernando) turned into the impossible (Gonzo upsetting in three sets), the whole Cup has taken on a vastly different tone. It hasn’t hurt that the ATP’s latest darling, Nole Djokovic, has also stumbled.

There’s no sheriff in town now. Let’s see who can find their gun.

Michael Shaw writes about tennis and other subjects for the Los Angeles Times, and is also an artist. He can be reached at michaelshaw_sar AT yahoo DOT com. Read his previous posts for TSF here.

the terracotta warriors unveiled in shanghai

November 12, 2007

Those amazing terracotta warriors of the eight men playing at the Tennis Masters Cup Shanghai were unveiled on Sunday, November 11, at 1:30 p.m. (local) at Qi Zhong Stadium.

terracotta warriors - tmc shanghai - 2007

Photographer Quentin Shih took this photo above of the players — that’s David Ferrer, Nole Djokovic, Roger Federer, Nands Gonzalez, Nikolay Davydenko, Rafa Nadal, Richard Gasquet, and Andy Roddick — standing next to their likenesses.

laury dizengremel commission - terra cotta warriors

Artist Laury Dizengremel, commissioned to work on these pieces, wrote to TSF two weeks ago from China.

“This [project] is a very exciting commission,” she said. “I’ve been to China 16 times over the last 6 years (am here right now creating the last few ‘heads’ as they qualify, working with two Chinese sculptor friends). I have made several monumental sculptures as a guest of the government, toured the country extensively for research, and love China!”

See close-ups of the players next to their warriors after the cut…

wearing red didn’t help their luck

November 12, 2007

The slippery slides of Roger Federer and Nikolay Davydenko couldn’t be helped by the good luck, in Chinese culture, brought by wearing red. Both are playing in their first round-robin matches at the Tennis Masters Cup Shanghai this week.

nikolay davydenko and roger federer - shanghai

Andy Roddick (in Lacoste) beat Kolya (in white/red Airness) in a 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 match. The American (is that ok with you, Shain?) had a second-set blip that left him throwing down his racquet, but found his mojo in time to make a run of five straight games in the third set to go up 5-1.

Meanwhile, R-Fed suffered his first back-to-back loss since Hamburg/Roland Garros in 2003. This year, he lost in the third round of the Paris Masters Series to David Nalbandian, and in this first round-robin match in Shanghai against Fernando Gonzalez, who notched his first win against Federer in 11 tries. The scoreline: 4-6, 7-6 (1), 7-5.

(photos by Getty Images)

fashion quickies: bits from shanghai

November 11, 2007

nole djokovic - david ferrer

Things to note from David Ferrer‘s defeat of Novak Djokovic 6-4. 6-4 in today’s round-robin play at the Tennis Masters Cup Shanghai:

  • Yep, that out-of-place bright red pair of Barricades on Nole is adidas‘s Shanghai Shout-Out.

  • He’s shrugging at the ballkid, who mistakenly brought him Ferrer’s racquet during the changeover. Oops.
  • The ballkid’s wearing a Lacoste uniform.
  • Ferrer wears black and white Lotto as he avenges his straight-set semifinal loss to the Serb at this year’s U.S. Open. Their head-to-head is now 3-2 Ferrer. Before today, Nole owned him on hard courts, while Ferrer dominated on clay.

(photos by Getty Images)

RELATED POSTS
>> TSF’s tennis masters cup shanghai coverage

shanghai: the men clean up good

November 11, 2007

david ferrer - tennis masters cup 2007

Have you seen those photos from Tennis Masters Cup Shanghai’s opening ceremonies?

Simple lapel-less dark grey suits with light blue cheongsam-cut dress shirts on David Ferrer (above), Fernando Gonzalez, Richard Gasquet, and Nikolay Davydenko; while Andy Roddick and Novak Djokovic decided to pair their shirts with tuxedo jackets… what?!? Of course, prom queens Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal stood out in their black suits.

Gone are the silk fabrics and the flowers — a marked improvement from what they wore in 2006 and 2005.

See pics of the other seven guys (and a list of seedings and predictions) after the cut.

fashion flashback: tennis masters cup’s opening ceremonies

November 11, 2007

The opening ceremonies at this week’s Tennis Masters Cup in Shanghai (which starts today) reminded me of the silk outfits the guys had to wear back in 2005.

andre agassi and alberto costa

While I’m all for using a tennis tourney to spread the host city’s culture to the world, I just didn’t find the clothes flattering on Andre Agassi and Alberto Costa at TMC 2005.

Top 8 men of 2006

In 2006 the organizers smartened up and went sleek. They put all the guys in black mandarin collar suits with boutonnières. (Blake, Davydenko, Federer in the front row; Mirnyi, the Bryans, Damm, and Leander Paes in the back)

Tommy Robredo, Nikolay Davydenko, Roger Federer

Charlie’s Angels: Robredo, Davydenko, Federer.

tennis’ clay soldiers headed to china + murray: “2007 was a wash; I’m ready for 2008″

September 18, 2007

The ATP will unveil terracotta models of the top eight players participating in the season-ending Tennis Masters Cup this November in Shanghai.

In the spirit of the clay soldiers buried with Emperor Qin in 209 B.C., French artist Laury Dizengremel plans to spend three days sculpting each of the faces.

(I drew a line here wondering why a Frenchwoman was commissioned to do traditional Chinese work; a quick view of Ms. Dizengremel’s bio shut me right up. She has lots of experience in Chinese art.)

Kudos, ATP: This is a wonderful way to show the international appeal of tennis (and to market The Masters Cup), and Roger Federer agrees: “I think that being sculpted as a Terracotta Warrior is an honor. I think the idea is fun — bringing together culture and sport — and I’m looking forward to seeing the final result.”

Race to Shanghai: As of this post, only Federer, Nadal, and Djokovic have qualified to participate. The others on the cusp are Davydenko, Roddick. Ferrer, Gonzalez, and Blake. (You can view the Race to Shanghai quickly on the tour’s main page.)

Andy Murray and all other players in contention to qualify had their measurements taken at the ATP stop in Montreal. (Behind-the-scenes photos here, YouTube video here.)

Unfortunately for us, the Scot doesn’t really care whether he and his dirt double will make an appearance in the round-robin tourney. He already has one eye on 2008 after a disappointing 2007, which saw him sitting out a majority of the year recovering from a pretty gross wrist injury.

But before heading to the off-season, he’ll join brother Jamie and countryman Tim Henman for a Davis Cup tie against Croatia. Both countries are vying to join the World Group for next year’s Cup.

Read up: Over 8,000 of these terracotta warriors were produced for the burial of the Emperor Qin in 210-209 B.C. It reportedly took 700,000 workers over 38 years to complete. Even better — no two of these life-sized sculptures are alike. (More from Wikipedia.)

Bonus round: The original terracotta soldiers will be on show to the public at the British Museum in London. This exhibition will feature the largest terracotta army ever shown outside China.

(photo of Dizengremel by Pyramid Public Relations; photo of Murray and Davydenko via the ATP gallery)


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