Jul 25, 2008

Showdown of Champions in KL: Federer, Borg and McEnroe LIVE in Malaysia

World no. 1 Roger Federer and two tennis legends, Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe has confirmed their participation for the Showdown of Champions 2008, to be be held at the Putra Stadium in Bukit Jalil, Kuala Lumpur on Nov 18.

However the fourth player will either be the newly crowned Wimbledon champion and world no. 2, Rafael Nadal, or American hottie James Blake to complete the cast of this 'chance of a lifetime' star-studded show.

The reason why Nadal might not be able to make it is due to the clash with the Davis Cup final.
“The decision as to who will play in Malaysia will hinge on the outcome of the Davis Cup semi-final clash between Spain and the United States (US) in Madrid on Sept 21,” said Nick Freyer, senior vice-president and head of tennis of IMG Asia, the event organisers, at a news conference, here today.
Freyer said if Spain were to lose, Nadal will travel to Kuala Lumpur but if the US were to lose the clash, Blake, who is currently world no. 8, will make his way here. Personally I don't mind because Nadal will have a chance to grab the Davis Cup for his country and I'll get to see Blake, who is also one of my favourite player.
“We will watch the lively battles between the 80’s stars, Borg and McEnroe followed by Federer and the fourth player. Then the final set will be Federer and Borg against McEnroe and the other star,” Freyer said.
Three matches with one ticket, wow, that's worth enough to pay for the best seat.

Tickets for the showdown, priced between RM108 and RM498, are on sale at all Ticket Axcess outlets from yesterday or call +603 7711 5000 for enquiries. The official Showdown of Champions website is

Jul 24, 2008

Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai outplay Roger Federer

These days Roger Federer's luck is running low.

Federer, who is in Toronto for Rogers Cup, arrived at Hilton Toronto on July 18, expecting to be given his favourite suite, unofficially known as the 'Federer Suite'.

But t
o his surprise, he discovered that his suite had been allotted to Bollywood's husband and wife team Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai who were also in Toronto for The Unforgettable Tour.

Abhishek and Aishwarya had checked into Hilton Toronto on July 16. Says a source from Wizcraft
International, organiser of The Unforgettable tour,
"The local promoter, Moe Jivani, insisted that Abhishek and Aishwarya be given Roger Federer's suite. Naturally, Hilton Toronto officials told him that it was reserved for Federer. But Jivani insisted and finally the Hilton Toronto officials relented."
Meanwhile, Federer arrived at Hilton Toronto on July 18. He was
disappointed to find his suite occupied and tried to argue with the hotel authorities about getting it, but his efforts went in vain. The hotel authorities politely refused to give him his favourite suite.

Aishwarya and Abhishek stayed in Hilton Toronto till July 19. Federer had to stay in another suite until then.

(Image by AP Photo/The Canadian Press,Adrian Wyld)

Post-Wimbledon nightmare: Gilles Simon ousts Roger Federer

I wonder why 'tennis greats' like Boris Becker and John McEnroe like to come in between the 'rivalry' of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

Recently, Becker and McEnroe have suggested that Nadal is now the unofficial world no. 1 - as he is by a hefty margin in the 2008 ATP Race and of course winning two Grand Slams back-to-back at the French Open and Wimbledon.

However Federer will not hear of that as the world rankings are a moving 12-month window that includes his 2007 US Open triumph.

Roger Federer has denied that Rafael Nadal is the top man, contradicting the view of two former greats.
"There is never an unofficial world No1. Of course he has still won two unbelievably difficult tournaments and whoever wins those is supposed to be No1. But I have had a very good end to the past two years. It's hard to snatch the No1 position, he knows that."
On the other hand, I think Nadal is smart as he was playing a psychological game too by saying, "Right now I don't want to be No1. I only want to play a good tournament here (at Rogers Cups)."

Still battling to adapt to the loss of his Wimbledon title after five years, Federer is now trying to gain back his confidence and respect at the Rogers Cup in Toronto, Canada.

However, his hope falls short after losing in the second round to French hottie Gilles Simon 2-6, 7-5, 6-4.
"It's a bad start, no doubt. I wish it could have been different. Now I'm going to get some practise in."
Federer obviously not happy with his game but yet gave credit to the Simon, the world no. 22.
"As the match went on I struggled a little bit to put the forehands away. He's a good baseliner. We saw that today. He moves well. He's deceiving because he's kind of thin and tall but moves really well for his height, you know."

"He flicks a lot of balls with his backhand as well, so when you come in you can't see where he plays."
Nadal, meanwhile, won in straight sets 6-4, 6-2 on Wednesday over Canadian Jesse Levine to move into the 3rd round.

Should second-ranked Nadal win the Rogers Cup, he would have a chance at next week's Western & Southern Financial Group Masters in Cincinnati to end Federer's 234-week reign as the top- ranked player.

Federer had begun 2008 with a 1,445 point lead over Nadal in the rankings. That advantage had almost halved going into the Toronto event, where 500 points are awarded to the winner.

(Image by AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Frank Gunn)

Jul 23, 2008

Malaysian tennis in dilemma

I hope what I'm reading is true. Not only that we might be having tennis legends Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe, as well as current ATP world no. 1 and 2, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal right here in Kuala Lumpur on Nov 18, we might be having WTA tournament right in our backyard next year too!
LTAM have plans of bringing in international stars including world No 1 Roger Federer and Spanish ace Rafael Nadal later this year followed by a WTA tournament next year to further spur the interest of tennis among the locals. ~ Malay Mail
I salute Lawn Tennis Association Malaysia (LTAM) for bringing such high standard of tennis into this country. I almost lost hope in Malaysian tennis but now I can see how serious these guys at LTAM trying to relive tennis sport in our country again.

However, while LTAM is working hard to reinvent tennis sport in Malaysia, all the efforts seem to go down the drain after it was announced the sport will not be played at the next Malaysia Games in Malacca in 2010.

The reason for the exclusion remains unknown. Oh, perhaps Malaccans do not play tennis or there's not a single tennis court in that historical state. This call totally crushes the spirits of the younger enthusiasts.

And why isn’t football or hockey got the axe? You know our local football and hockey scene suck BIG time.

National tennis coach Rahizam Abdul Rahim was very upset upon learning the sport will not be held in Malacca.
“We allowed Malacca to host an ITF junior tournament last year as a bid to generate more interest among the youths in gearing up for the Sukma.But now tennis is not part of the list and it’s really disappointing.”
Rahizam further explained that Sukma is an avenue where the juniors graduate into the senior level.
“It’s not like the standards of Sukma are high, but it still serves as a platform for us to scout new talents. The sport is well represented by all states and yet it’s being dropped.”
This is not the first time tennis was dropped from Sukma. Tennis was axed back in the Kedah 2006 Games. Instead of moving forward, we’re taking a step back.

Will Malaysia ever have players like Adam Malik or V. Selvam again? I mean, can you name a single Malaysia tennis player now? I can't. Don't we have talents here in this country? Who are responsible to transform the sport?

Perhaps LTAM should look at our national squash team as a model. With little resource, they are still able to go far and make an impact in the international level.

Jul 22, 2008

Nadal vs Federer and McEnroe vs Borg LIVE in Malaysia?

Thanks to Nazz for this tips from The Star:

Fans in for a double treat in November

KUALA LUMPUR: Tennis fans are in for treat in November with exhibition matches featuring Roger Federer against Rafael Nadal and Bjorn Borg against John McEnroe.

Lawn Tennis Association of Malaysia (LTAM) executive secretary Jaafar Abu said yesterday that the four had confirmed participation in the “Countdown of Champions”, set for Nov 18 at the Putra Stadium in Bukit Jalil.

“Last year, we had Pete Sampras and Richard Gasquet along with Nadal and Federer,” he said.

World No. 1 Federer will get another chance to avenge his defeats by world No. 2 Nadal in the finals of the French Open and Wimbledon this year.

Borg, 52, and McEnroe, 49, will take the fans a chance to walk down memory lane, remembering the highs and lows of their bitter rivalry, typified by the 1980 Wimbledon final won by Borg in five gruelling sets. – AFP


Could this be real? Let's wait for more updates.

Updates: This exhibition match was mentioned in Tennis Week. Just got to know that this exho is known as "Showdown of Champions".

Jul 21, 2008

Women tennis: Cashing in on sex appeal

Gone are the years where androgynous-looking tennis players like Martina Navratilova, Steffi Graff and Billie Jean King shouted the word feminism.

World no. 1 Ana Ivanovic is FHM magazine's no. 1 too.

Today, the WTA players ooze sex appeal rather than sexism. We have more 'Anna Kournikova' now than yesteryears, which I believe is a good thing. I mean that's the BEST THING that ever happen in women tennis.

However, unlike Anna Kournikova, many top women players today are able to sell more than just sex appeal. They dominate on court and the WTA rankings. They win trophies and the Grand Slams too.

We love the whole package: talents and good looks. Fans and the media love to see these players on court as much as to see them off court.

There’s Ana Ivanovic in Dolce and Gabana being escorted to a swanky party by Sir Richard Branson. Or glam shots of Daniela Hantuchova in an airline magazine; Venus Williams signing copies of a book of glamorous shots of her at Ralph Lauren’s London store and so on and so on until you get to Ashley Harkleroad on the cover of the new issue of Playboy ~ excerpt from Tennis Week.

Ashley Harkleroad and her strategically placed towel.
According to Larry Scott, the chief executive of WTA tour, in the London's Financial Times newspaper,
"All sports are trying to distinguish themselves through their athletes and the glamorous nature of what they do. That’s what sponsors are after."
Personally I'm embracing the development in the women tennis world these days. At least I have more off court highlights to blog about. And I admit that recently I do spend more time watching women players on TV too. This article in Tennis Week is right: more glamour equals bigger ratings.

(Images via FHM and Playboy)

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