Jan 31, 2009

Serena Williams bagels Dinara Safina; wins 10th Grand Slam title

After a gruelling match between Rafael Nadal and Fernando Verdasco last night, today's women's singles final is such a disappointment.

I'm disappointed because Dinara Safina let Serena Williams dominated from the start till the end to win 6-0, 6-3 in the Australian Open final.

This is Serena's 10th Grand Slam title and her fourth Australian championship — and this also means her return to the no. 1 ranking!

Serena and her sis Venus also won their eighth Grand Slam women’s doubles title yesterday, beating Daniela Hantuchova and Ai Sugiyama 6-3, 6-3.

What a way for her to start the new year!

(Images via Yahoo! Sports)

Ana Ivanovic's Rolex adverts - FHM style

Ana Ivanovic's new Rolex advertorials reminds me of her FHM photo shoot.

At least the hair look the same to me.

These adverts will be published in magazines and newspapers in the coming months.

Ana's stunning Rolex adverts.

Ana in FHM magazine last year.

(Images via Ana's official website, FunEnclave)

Jan 30, 2009

Rafael Nadal wins gruelling semifinal

I have been wow-ed!

I'm so relieved that Rafael Nadal survived the record breaking 5 hours and 14 minutes semifinal match against fellow Spaniard Fernando Verdasco to reach the Australian Open final.

The final results is
6-7 (4), 6-4, 7-6 (2), 6-7 (1), 6-4.

"Right now I'm feeling more happy than tired," Nadal said in a courtside interview."

"For sure it will be tough to play the final in another day. My opponent will be difficult because Roger is always very tough."

"It was amazing for me. Playing this match with an unbelievable atmosphere. Thank you very much, it was one of my best matches in my career."

"Fernando was playing unbelievable. His serve was amazing, so, I think it's his best tournament in his career. He played unbelievable. Today he deserved this win too so I want to congratulate him."
Now Nadal has a chance to deny Roger Federer from winning his record-equaling 14th Grand Slam when the two meet Sunday in the final.

(Images via Yahoo! Sports)

Aren't you impressed with Fernando Verdasco?

The ball boy is impressed.

The audience, the commentators, and all tennis fans watching right now simply find this
semifinal match between Nando and Rafael Nadal enthralling.

I have totally underestimated Nando.

(Image by William West/
/AFP/Getty Images)

Rafael Nadal invites you to the Balearic Islands

As reported by DtL, Rafael Nadal is involved in a promotion campaign, costing some cool nine million euros, designed to bring tourism to the Balearic Islands (with the four largest islands being Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza, and Formentera).

Nadal who is a Mallorcan, has recently reached an agreement with the Balearic Island Institute for Tourism (IBATUR) on a contract that will stretch over a three year period.

Earlier this month. Nadal was joined by the Regional Minister for Tourism, Miquel Nadal and Mateu Cañellas, the Minister for Sports at the signing of the agreement.

The Tourism Minister said that the best tennis player in the world will be promoting the best holiday destination in Europe.

This advertisement here was filmed at a studio on the Son Castello Industrial Estate.

Nadal made a statement saying that he was pleased with the agreement reached with IBATUR and said that it was important to him personally to be asked to represent the island and tourism in the region, adding that to present his homeland is one of his finest experiences ever.

Jan 29, 2009

Serena vs Safina: My bet is on...

Looking at the many faces of Dinara Safina, who wouldn't find her cute?

Instead of the same ol' boring Serena, don't you just want a fresh face like Safina to take the Aussie Open title?

Well, I have no problem until I saw these photos of Safina in the February issue of Glamour Russian magazine.

Seriously fashion wise, Safina is still behind Queen of Bling, Serena.

Her experience is ALSO nothing compare to the multiple Grand Slam winner.

Now needless to say who will win at the women's final.

Besides it's pretty hard to stop a lucky Rooster right now!

(Images via Yahoo! Sports, tennisforum, fortydeuce)

Roger Federer nails Aussie Open final

Andy Roddick thought he can pull a Nando at the semifinal today against Roger Federer.

I guess his power went haywire and A-Rod failed to cope with all the range of shots bombarded by the Swiss and lost 2–6, 5–7, 5–7.

Now Roger will play either top-seeded Rafael Nadal or Fernando Verdasco in the final — the two Spaniards will play their semifinal match tomorrow.

Roger could have a chance to clinch his 14th Grand Slam title Sunday final.

See, he's already celebrating like he has got it today. You better believe in the power of visualization!

(Images via Yahoo! Sports)

Jan 28, 2009

Q&A with Sania Mirza & Mahesh Bhupathi

Sania Mirza and Mahesh Bhupathi defeated Aleksandra Wozniak and Daniel Nestor in the mixed doubles quarterfinal match today with the results 3-6, 6-4, 10-5.

They will next face the Czech pair of Iveta Benesova and Lukas Dlouhy.

Here their interview via AO website.

Q. How long have you been playing doubles together?
(There’s some back and forth banter about how many tournament they’ve played. Is it three, four or five? Finally it’s decided: Australian, Wimbledon, French and US Open.)
Sania Mirza (SM): Two years, this is the second year.

Q. How did you pair up as a doubles team?
SM: Well, he manages me, he has a company he manages me, we’re great friends, we know each other, we’re Indian. I guess there are enough similarities.

Q. Are you happy with how you’re doing in the doubles?
Mahesh Bhupathi (MB): Yes, we’re pleased, we’re still alive! We’ll just take it one at a time and see how it goes.

Q. What’s your strategy going into your next mixed doubles match?
MB: Win (both laugh)

Q. How are you handling the heat on court?
SM: It’s hot! It helps that we’re Indian, I guess. We’re used to it, but it was very hot today.

Q. Do you hang out when you’re not playing doubles?
MB: Sometimes; obviously we’ve known each other a long time. I mean, we did our pre-season training season together in December with a group of players in India in Bangalore this year. We train together in the off-season for the last two years.

Q. What do you like to do when you’re not playing tennis?
SM: I like to catch a movie, very normal stuff, go out for a quiet dinner.
MB: I’ve got enough to do, so I spend a lot of time on my computer. That’s about it. Go out for dinner or movies. I’ve got a coach and a trainer travelling with me so it’s a big entourage.

Q. If you weren’t tennis players, what would you be?
SM: I’ve been playing since I was six. Honestly, I don’t know. I was interested in interior decoration.
MB: I’ve been playing since I was three, so I haven’t even thought about it.

Q. Your compatriot, Yuki Bhambri is playing in the junior boys’ tournament here. Do you have any advice for him?
MB: He’s the biggest talent we have in India right now, so it’s very exciting for us. We’re hoping he can make the transition from the juniors to the main game very soon.

Q. Have you had a chance to see much of Melbourne?
MB: I’ve been here so many times. We have a set number of restaurants that we try and visit every time we’re here.

Q. You both travel a lot. What’s the one thing you can’t leave home without?
SM: My phone, [same for] him too (referring to Bhupathi)
MB: My laptop.

Q. What’s the favourite city you’ve visited?
SM: This is one of my favourite cities, actually. And New York.
MB: Australia’s definitely one of my favourite destinations.

(Interview and image via AO website)

Elena vs Serena: Will it be Jane of the outback or the comeback queen?

As predicted, Serena Williams will play against Elena Dementieva in one of the women's semifinals tomorrow.

Both players have a fair chance to win; Serena has more experience than anybody to win in Grand Slam tournaments while Elena has been very consistent and had won two warm up tournaments in Auckland and Sydney.

Here are their thoughts on each other.

Elena on Serena:

ELENA DEMENTIEVA: Every time it's different, especially against Serena. You don't know what to expect from her. All the matches that we play, all the last three matches, was completely different games.

I think she likes to play here (in AO). She won this title (here before). She feels pretty comfortable playing, you know, in this surface. I think it's going to be tough match. It's always good to have, you know, a positive results. But it's all new.

Serena on Elena:
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think she's playing amazing. I think she's actually playing some of the best tennis on the tour. She's really stepped up the level of her game to an unbelievable level. I'm going to have to play really well to do well tomorrow.

The other semifinal match is between Vera Zvonareva and Dinara Safina.

By the way here are some off court photos of Elena who visited the Melbourne Zoo yesterday. That's a nice dress for an outing to the zoo.

(Images by Robert Prezioso/Getty Images via zimbio)

Svetlana Kuznetsova blamed the roof over loss

It's strange because Svetlana Kuznetsova didn't mind the heat.

Instead she was angry that her opponent, Serena Williams bounced back from one set down to win 5-7, 7-5, 6-1 after the roof on the Rod Laver Arena court was closed.
“It’s gave her more chances, I guess,” she said.

“Definitely it was a big change. I was very comfortable playing outside.

“I guess it’s two different games. One you play inside; one you play outside."

“Definitely angry… why should I not be?"

“Game going my way. Why today they had to close it? I didn’t get it. That was why I was angry."

“I didn’t get the rule at all. Closing the roof middle of the match, I don’t get it.”
According to Reuters, Melbourne is braced for its hottest week in 100 years as meteorologists predict five consecutive days above 40 degrees for the first time since 1908.

The tournament referee can halt matches if the “heat stress index” reaches a predetermined level. The index is a complex, combined measurement of temperature, heat radiation, wind, and humidity.

According to The Times of London, Australia is just too hot to host major sporting events like the Australian Open.

Pointing to defending champion Novak Djokovic's retirement from the Australian Open on Tuesday, The Times said "Australia is no place to host big international sporting tournaments".
"Sooner or later you have to face up to the only sensible conclusion: Australia is no place to host big international sporting tournaments; except maybe the world kangaroo long-jump."
The newspaper went on to blame recent Australian sporting failures on the heat.
"Their cricketers have lost their bite, their rugby players no longer rule the world. They had a poor Olympics. Even Australians, it seems, don't like it hot ."

(Via Reuters,, Images via Yahoo! Sports)

Jan 27, 2009

Gilles Simon knows how to play Rafael Nadal

I'm quite anxious about the quarterfinal match between Rafael Nadal and Gilles Simon tomorrow. As I'll be heading back to KL tomorrow I could be missing this match.

It's interesting to read Gilles' interview especially on how confident he is on taking Nadal. Here's an excerpt of that interview.

Q. Do you have some specific tactics in your mind if it's Nadal?

GILLES SIMON: Yes. I have to run five hours to win. I have no choice (laughter).

Usually I think that it's easier to play against them because you really know what you have to do. You just have to do a perfect match to win. If it's not perfect, you lose.

It's easier when you get into the court. It's easier to stay focused on the match because you know that every point is important.

Well, just have to be perfect to win. So I prefer to play in that way.

Q. How different will you feel facing Nadal again perhaps in this tournament compared to last year when you faced him here? You've changed a lot as a player. How different is your approach now mentally maybe?

GILLES SIMON: Yeah, the approach is different because I just did it once, so it's easier for me. When you get into the court, you just want to win always. Last year when I played against him, that was not this already.

I wanted to play a good match, but when I had a chance to finish the first set finally, yeah, I didn't play to win the match. I was just enjoying to be on the court, playing beautiful points, but that was it.

This time it's gonna be different because I just want to win. I don't care about my level.

Earlier today, Gilles took a break to do AO promo photo shooting at the southern star wheel.

(Images by Fiona Hamilton/AFP/Getty Images)

Andy Roddick to play in ATP Tour event in KL?

Esther, thanks for this tip. I didn't know the Lawn Tennis Association of Malaysia (LTAM) guys update their website during Chinese New Year holiday! I guess they can't wait to deliver this piece of news.

Here's what posted on the LTAM website:
World No 9 Andy Roddick is highly tipped to play in an ATP Tour event in Kuala Lumpur (KL) come September.

This was confirmed by Lawn Tennis Association of Malaysia president Datuk Abdul Razak Latif in a local daily.

The former US Open champion is among the several stars which could feature in the tournament scheduled at the National Tennis Center in Jalan Duta.

"An ATP official, together with a foreign organiser, visited the NTC about two weeks ago and were happy with the facilities. However, they want the indoor stadium to be upgraded," Abdul Razak was quoted as saying.

"The stadium needs to be upgraded into a 3,000 seating capacity arena and it must be fully air-conditioned with proper lighting."

"The event, if everything goes well, will be held at the end of September. The total prize money will be released soon."
Hey, isn't it Thailand Open falls on September too?

Late last year, LTAM president also mentioned about hosting a WTA Tour event in the second half of year 2009.

Are they thinking of hosting a combined ATP and WTA event?

I won't speculate further. Stay tune for more updates soon!

Jan 26, 2009

Vamos Nando! Give me 5!

It doesn't have to take Rafael Nadal or Roger Federer to beat Andy Murray.

Fernando Verdasco can do the job too.

Nando sent Murray packing after defeating the bookies' favourite 2-6, 6-1, 1-6, 6-3, 6-4 today.

Nando, who won the crucial rubber that won Spain the 2008 Davis Cup against Argentina in Buenos Aires, became the first left hander, other than Nadal, to beat Murray at tour level.

On several occasions throughout the match Murray chastised himself, at one point in the fourth set screaming “what the hell are you doing?”.

Murray, however, blamed himself for not converting his chances.
“I could have started a couple of the sets better,” Murray told reporters.

“I went behind, played a couple of poor games early in the second and fourth sets to get behind."

“If I sort of stayed on top there, that might have made a bit of a difference."

“But apart from that…I did have my chances.”
Nando will next meet fifth seed Jo Wilfried-Tsonga in the quarterfinals after beating James Blake in straight sets.
“For me it was one of the biggest goals to be in quarter-finals for first time in a grand slam,” he said.

“I was feeling with big confidence and pretty fit. So I was (confident) to make quarter-finals for the first time.

“Right now I am so happy to make this goal possible.”

(Via Reuters; Images via Yahoo! Sports)

Will it be a bullish year for Zheng Jie?

Wishing everyone a fantastic Lunar New Year!

Let's start off the Ox year with some updates from Zheng Jie.

She took a water taxi ride along the Yarra River yesterday on New Year Eve.

Today she'll have a big match in the quarterfinal against Svetlana Kuznetsova. I'm a fan of Kuzy so whoever wins and through to the semifinals, I'll be just as happy.

Oh no! Zheng Jie retired from the match after a wrist injury in the first set.

Kuzy will now face second seed Serena Williams in the quarterfinals, who also enjoyed a brisk workout after her opponent, Victoria Azarenka, retired due to dizziness and an "undisclosed illness".

(Images by Robert Prezioso/Getty Images via zimbio, xinhuanet)

Jan 25, 2009

Roger Federer challenges Andy Murray to five-setter any day

"I don't know how fit Murray is. I'll take him on any day in a five-setter. He's younger so he's probably not so experienced, you know. In the end it becomes very mental, and I know that this is where my biggest strengths always come into play."
~ Roger Federer

Roger Federer said today that he would take on Andy Murray any day over five sets after surviving a marathon match in the Australian Open fourth round against Tomas Berdych 4-6, 6-7 (4), 6-4, 6-4, 6-2.

Roger who has lost his last four matches against the Murray, has fought a low-key war of words with the Scot since arriving here for the first Grand Slam of the season.

(Image via Yahoo! Sports)

Lunar New Year wish from Rendy Lu Yen-Hsun

Zahirah caught up with Rendy Lu Yen-Hsun right after his doubles match at the Australian Open and got his blessing to record a Lunar New Year message to his fans out there.

According to Zahirah who interviewed Rendy, win or lose, Rendy will spend his Chinese New Year abroad this year, as he plans to jet off to Germany for the Heilbronn Challenger next week.
“It was nice to spend it (at home),” Rendy said.

“You can really feel the atmosphere then.”
Zahirah also reported, spending holidays away from home may be hard, but with Rendy's sustained climb in the ATP rankings and the increasingly elevated profile of tennis in Taipei which he spearheads, Rendy is certainly reaping some handsome rewards for his sacrifice.

HCFoo would also like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a very Happy Ox Year!

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