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Nov 21, 2007

Clash of the Titans: Rafael Nadal vs Richard Gasquet at Shah Alam

It was a night to remember especially for tennis fans in Malaysia. Having two top 10 tennis players in the world in this country is something that is far from my imagination. Thanks to the Ministry of Youths and Sports, we are able to see Rafael Nadal and Richard Gasquet live in Malaysia for the very first time in an exhibition match called Clash of the Titans.

The MC for the night is Mahadzir Lokman which I think is appropriate since he knows how to speak Spanish and French. The Deputy Prime Minister and wife as well as the Minister
of Youths and Sports were present that night.

The match started off with a performance by a local boy band, Ruffedge. To be honest, I wish the performance is by Sheila Majid, Ning Baizura or even Siti Nurhaliza who has more class and suitable for a high profile tennis event like this.

Then the event was followed by cultural dance. It was a very Malaysian-style event. I only hope that they are able to make it more grand for such a huge event like this (the MC said the event were broadcasted to over 50 countries) and not just a few people wearing different costumes doing some simple dance moves. It's just too old school for me.

Well, most of us were already anxious for Nadal and Gasquet to emerge. And so by 8.30 p.m. the players came out and I'm so relieved that the stadium was already more than 3/4 occupied. I managed to get a good sight of the players as I managed to move from my RM83 seat to a RM388 seat!

The MC asked some questions before we were introduced to the umpire who is a former national tennis player. The players warm up for few minutes and fans were already cheering seeing some great sharp returns made by the players. The show haven't started and you can see how good these guys are.

To cut the story short, the score for the night is 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 with Nadal winning the exhibition match. Through out the match, I managed to get to see Nadal's butt picking habit (!), fist pumping but there's no adjusting socks, placement of water bottles or any other rituals he normally do. Perhaps, it's just only an exhibition match. But Nadal seemed to be having a lot of fun and showing some tricks compares to Gasquet. By the third set, Gasquet was already tired and gave up although I wish this set could end up with a tie break.

The night would have been a perfect if the linesmen do their jobs well. Even the umpire made a few wrong calls that night. Speaking about professionalism in tennis, we are still very far behind. Even the Stadium Melawati needs some face lifting job done. I can't believe these world top players are playing in such a poor venue like this. Don't they have a better tennis court in Bukit Jalil?

Now, Roger Federer will be arriving Malaysia today with Pete Sampras. According to the organizer, they will be flying in through private jet and will land in Subang Airport instead of KLIA. I'm not sure if there's any changes in their flight schedule but you can check with the organizer by calling them up.

For Nadal's fans, I'll put up more pictures as soon as I've uploaded more pictures from the camera.


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