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Nov 21, 2008

Rafael Nadal's rehab in Mauritius

It's off season break for Rafael Nadal but it seems that he's not really taking things slow.

Instead of resting and recuperating from his knee injury, Nadal was seen participating in a resort's array of activities during his holiday with girlfriend Xisca in Mauritius.


Nadal flexed his muscles while riding a 'doughnut', snorkeling, swimming and running along the beach, showing no sign of the injury which prevented him from playing in the Davis Cup in Argentina.

To view more pictures, click here.

His fellow Spaniard team mates will be playing against the Argentines tonight in a final match.


(Via downthelinetennis; Images via jezebel.com, The Sun)

Sometimes I wonder if he's really into Ana Ivanovic

At this point, whether you like it or not, many tennis fans have accepted the romance between Fernando Verdasco and Ana Ivanovic.

But does Nando really in love with Ana? To be specific, is Ana his type???



(Images via Yahoo! Sport, 2nd and 3rd last photos via Forty Deuce)

Macau Tennis Showdown: Roger Federer wraps up Asian exhibition with another win

Roger Federer wraps up his 2008 season in Macau last night as he, James Blake, Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe conclude this week's lucrative pair of Asian paydays.

Personally I don't care about the results as these are only exhibition tours.


Nevertheless, here are the final scores:


Kuala Lumpur

Borg vs McENROE 6-7 (11-13)

FEDERER vs Blake 7-6 (10-7)

TEAM AMERICA (McEnroe & Blake) vs Team Europe (Borg & Federer) 7-5


Macau

BORG vs McEnroe 7-6

FEDERER vs Blake 6-4, 6-4

Team America (McEnroe & Blake) vs Team Europe (Borg & Federer) (No results provided)


Here are some photos before and during the exhibition match as well as post match press conference photos in Kuala Lumpur earlier this week.

Saeed Khan/AFP/Getty Images

Saeed Khan/AFP/Getty Images

And here are some photos of the players in gondolas during their appearance at the Macau Tennis Showdown at the Venetian resort.

While Roger and Blake have wrapped up their Asian exhibition, Borg and McEnroe will continue to play in Bangkok tomorrow.

(Images via Mike Clarke/AFP/Getty Images)

Nov 20, 2008

Kei Nishikori is back in Japan, kicks football at Sony event

It's been awhile since we heard from Kei Nishikori.

According to bunny in MTF, Kei is back in Shimane for holiday and perhaps for some work.

Just like Serena Williams and Ana Ivanovic, Kei took time to visit a local primary school where he used to be a student.


Kei was welcomed by about 1,000 students at the school!

He told the kids that when he was a student there, he had a big dream about tennis and he has wonderful memories from the school.

In the Q&A session, a girl asked him what she sholud do to make her dream of becoming a piano teacher true. Kei told the girl that it's important that she continues to like piano.

He also held a press conference at the school where he said he wanted to enter Top 50 as soon as he can and to win consistently in many tournaments.

In another event later, Kei was in Tokyo for a Sony event.

In one of the interviews he was quoted as saying that he wants to reach last 8 at Australian Open! He also said he want to stay injury free and reach top 50 as soon as he can.

Here are some photos from the event where Kei shows off his football juggling skills.


(Via menstennisforums.com; Images via sankei.jp.msn.com)

Mirka spotted grocery shopping in Malaysia!

While Roger Federer was at the meet-the-fans session, Esther who had just attended the tennis clinic conducted James Blake, walked towards the Mandarin Oriental hotel entrance.

By the way Esther is a huge tennis fan (and also very tennis-savvy) whom I get to know through my blog. For the past one year we have been exchanging information and she helped me a lot in doing research and contacting media and organisers as well.

There she bumped into Mirka. It wasn't easy to get a personal photo with Mirka but Esther was really lucky that day (*Esther just gave me the green light to post her photo with Mirka here).

I walked back to Mandarin Oriental after Roger's meet-the-fans session and reunited with Esther.

At the hotel lobby, we saw Mirka coming back from grocery shopping! Not sure what she bought though. The yellow plastic bag shows two chinese/japanese-looking characters.

We asked for photos but she declined and kept saying, "Sorry, I don't take photos. Sorry!"

So we let her go :D

Later in the evening, Esther, Siti (a tennis fan whom we met that day) and I walked back from Starbucks towards the hotel lobby hoping to catch the players before they head to the stadium.

On the way, we saw Mirka again! She was right in front of us and we asked for photos again.

She refused to take photos and repeated sorry countless times, "Sorry, I don't take photos. Sorry!"

Then Mirka and her lady friend walked towards KLCC for shopping. It seems like nobody recognize Mirka.

Now I must tell you how regretful I am for not following Mirka to the shopping mall. Then we saw her coming back to the hotel in a new black and white striped cardigan.



She was late and Roger had to wait for her for awhile before they headed to the stadium for the exhibition match.


James Blake at tennis clinic for kids in Malaysia

While Roger Federer were meeting fans at KLCC, James Blake spent his time conducting a sparring session with 16 national junior players at the Mandarin Oriental tennis arena in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

I spent some time at this clinic before dashing to the meet-the-fans session. Esther stayed on and managed shoot a lot of great photos.

The juniors received tips on footwork, service and other techniques.


Blake reminded them to concentrate on improving their footwork as it's the most important part of tennis.


"Tennis is a game of movement. Correct footwork can mean the difference between winning and losing," said Blake.


Among those who attended the clinic were national Under-10 champion Talhah Rahizam, Faiz Samsuddin, Tobias Waldau and Damien Rocky.


Talhah, the son of national coach Rahizam Rahin, and Faiz were the stars of the day when they managed to earn a few points during the coaching-cum-sparring session with Blake.


Talhah said it's a dream come true to spar with Blake and win points.
"My ambition is to become a world class player and the session with Blake is something I will cherish forever," said the 10-year-old Talhah.
Here's a great photo of Blake. No wonder Evian water wants to partner with him.

(Via News Straits Time)

Nov 19, 2008

Federermania hits Malaysia!

Tennis is Malaysia's new favourite sport.

For a country like Malaysia who prefers badminton and football, it's amazing to see fans queuing up for almost 4 hours just to catch a glimpse of Roger Federer and get his autograph.


When Esther and I arrived at the KLCC foyer, we met up with some fans from Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and also from Japan!


As a Rafatard, I must say that Roger is still a King here in Asia, and ASEAN to be specific.

I'm exhausted after covering the event for 2 days, I said to myself, I'm glad I'm just a tennis blogger, not a reporter or photographer.

I'm really happy to meet so many tennis enthusiasts from so many places.

Sorry for those whom I can't return call or couldn't meet up. I've tried to return as much calls as I can but at certain situation, I wasn't convenient to do that.

I hope you guys enjoy the event. Do write to me on how you felt.

Now I believe the WTA Tier II event could be a reality next year.


I'll come back to you guys soon on photos and videos of the activities took place yesterday: James Blake tennis clinic, Roger's meet-the-fans/autograph-signing session, Mirka, at the exhibition match and post match press conference.


I've just called Esther, who's at the Mandarin Oriental now. She said she managed to meet the players and take photos and autographs!

The players will be heading to the Subang airport at 10 a.m. on private jet to Macau for another exho.


(Images via Yahoo! Sport)

Nov 17, 2008

Showdown of Champions: Roger Federer, James Blake, Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe in Malaysia!

Tennis legends Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe together with Roger Federer and James Blake are already in Malaysia!

Thanks to the management and media team at LD Sports and Media 247, I had the opportunity to attend the press conference today at Mandarin Oriental Hotel.

I arrived early hoping to catch a glimpse of the players' arrival at the official hotel, Mandarin Oriental.

I missed the opportunity to witness Blake, McEnroe and Borg's arrival although I reached the hotel at about 10.30 a.m.

Roger and Mirka arrived almost at approximately 4 p.m. Mirka is so much prettier in person!

Together with my Sis, Nick and Jamie who are hardcore Roger fans, we had the opportunity to welcome them from afar (as we were brushed off by the huge and not-so-friendly bodyguards who are just doing their job :D).

Roger and Mirka were lead to their suite while Blake, Borg and McEnroe were nowhere to be seen. They must have been locking up themselves (or by the organizer) in the suites since morning.

I quickly registered myself for the press conference and Jamie was brave enough to ask for a permission to join the press conference as a representative from Roger Federer's Malaysia Fan Club :D.

Then I humbly joined the other photographers (with big huge DSLRs and video cameras) to go outdoor shooting at the bridge near the park overlooking the proudly erected Petronas Twin Towers.

According to Jamie back at the hotel, Roger managed to grab some bites before heading to the photoshoot location.

(Saeed Khan/AFP/Getty Images)

I gotta admit that I took bad photos as I can't fit in the players and the towers together into my sis's humble Sony digital camera. Not to mention that I had to 'wrestle' with the other professional photographers who know exactly what they are doing.



After that I was back to the hotel waiting for the press conference to start. My Sis, Jamie and Nick joined me in the conference room.

The press conference was moderated by Mahadzir Lokman, who will also be the MC for tomorrow's Showdown of Champions. (At the end of the press conference, Mahadzir asked the players to do the thumbs up gesture and he chuckled when they did!)



The players were really ecstatic about the exhibition match tomorrow. According to Bjorn Borg, who is 'missing' from the video, said he wished the exhibition match is tonight!

Roger Federer said he is recovering fast from his back injury and is really looking forward to team up with Borg for the first time.

John McEnroe is as usual, funny and yet serious-looking while Blake is simply a gorgeous guy (drooling!).

I managed to ask two questions, one for Blake and one for Roger (which the question was suggested by Rizal of LD Sports).

1. Blake, you'll be teaming up with Serena Williams at the Hopman Cup early next year. What do you think of the brother and sister team, Marat Safin and Dinara Safina?



2. You are a big fan of the FC Basel. What is your plan after retiring from tennis? I mean are you going to buy a football club or something?



:D tennis legends, Borg and McEnroe have retired long, long time ago and yet still involved with so many activities (be it tennis or non-tennis related) so I guess it was appropriate to ask Roger what he's looking forward when he decides to hang his tennis racquet.

The press conference ended at about 5.30 p.m.

Fans were already outside waiting for the players (Roger to be exact) to come out. The bodyguards were trying to do their job brushing away fans but Roger was so sweet to stop and take pictures with rogerfederer.commers! At this time I had the opportunity to get Blake to sign his autobiography and took a picture with him, thanks to my Sis.

(Saeed Khan/AFP/Getty Images)

(Saeed Khan/AFP/Getty Images)

I bet Roger fans who were there today will be having sweet dreams tonight (or maybe they can't sleep tonight). Glad you guys had the opportunity to meet and took photos with him. Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines fans united!

Stay tune for more.

(All photo credit should read HCFoo's Tennis Blog except those stated by Saeed Khan/AFP/Getty Images)

Roger Federer is ready for Showdown of Champions tomorrow night

Yesterday evening, I had an opportunity to attend a press conference call with Roger Federer from Shanghai organised by the guys at LD Sports.

Well, I tried to load my video but it seems that the connection in Bukit Jalil is painstakingly slow.

But thanks to Nazz for giving me a link to a video on TV3's Berita Utama.



In that press conference call, Federer talked about looking forward to play doubles with tennis legend Bjorn Borg, whom he never play together before.

He also assured fans that he's recovering fast from his back injury.

Federer, James Blake, Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe will be touching down Malaysia today. They'll be staying at the official hotel, Mandarin Oriental, next to KLCC.

So are you ready for Showdown of Champions? This is the second year Federer is here in Malaysia and I don't think you'll have a chance to see him here for the third time. Grab this opportunity to watch the players play.

If you are really a hardcore Roger Federer's fan, don't miss the opportunity to see him at the autograph-signing session at KLCC foyer at 11.45 a.m. on Tuesday, November 18, 2008.

The foyer is actually in between the two towers, near Dewan Filharmonik Petronas. Ask the information counter if you are not able to find the place. They should be able to help to direct you.

(Via tv3.com.my)

Nov 16, 2008

Ana Ivanovic gives back to kids; Serena Williams gives blogging lesson

One of the best thing I like about pro tennis players and tennis tournaments is they always give back to the kids.

UNICEF National Ambassador Ana Ivanovic recently visited a primary school in Baric, south-east of Belgrade, Serbia. The school is one of 15 that has joined the “School without Violence” programme donated by Ms Ivanovic herself.


“I am truly happy to give my own contribution to the efforts in solving the serious issue of violence and bullying in schools,” said Ana as she addressed the pupils.

“It is my pleasure to come to one of the schools that is involved in the programme and to hear from children and teachers that the programme is progressing and that a difference has been made.

“In school, like in sports, we need to continuously monitor and evaluate our performance in order to improve ourselves. Even when we are losing, we need to know how to make something good out of it... and how to become better.”
As for HP Ambassador Serena Williams, she was recently in Kenya on a three-day charity tour that involved conducting tennis clinic and opening up a secondary school named after her!

Williams, who was accompanied by the Minister for Education, Professor Sam Ongeri, and the area MP, Peter Kiilu, could not hide her joy for being involved in the project.

“I would like to contribute more to education projects in Africa, and I really want to thank the Hewlett Packard Company for choosing to partner with me in this noble project,” Williams told the ecstatic crowd.
The school was built in record one month, and is fully equipped with a computer laboratory and Internet facilities for the students.

Williams was seen here giving some blogging tips to the kids!

Great efforts from both players. Hopefully we'll see more charity works like this during this off tennis season.

(Via Ana Ivanovic's official site, Serena Williams' official website, nation.co..ke; Images via Forty Deuce)

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