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May 16, 2009

Michael Chang joins the cast of Prince of Tennis 2

Michael Chang will make his television debut in a drama series called Prince of Tennis 2.

Guess who he'll be playing in this series?

Wrong! Michael is not going to play himself.

Instead he'll be playing a coach who'll lead his team to victory in this drama adaptation from a popular manga of the same name.

Together with his wife Amber Liu, they have been teaching the actors some basic moves including forehand, backhand, serve, etc. on the set.

Michael Chang with Kimi Qiao Renliang.

According to Michael, the reason why he's involved in this TV drama series is to better promote tennis which has become an increasingly popular sport in China.

In 2007 Shanghai-based Dragon TV bought the rights to turn Prince of Tennis into a TV series, with much support and enthusiasm from its writer, Takeshi Konomi who hoped this would help promote his manga in the Chinese market.

Konomi personally approved of the choice of Qin Junjie as the lead, Ryoma, or Long Ma in this adaption.

Qin Junjie will reprise his role as Long Ma.

New lead actress Wang Ziwen.

The actors of Fuji and Oishi.

The second season will pick up where the last season left off, as the team heads towards the national championships.

This season features a new lead actress and multiple guest stars. Purported additions to the cast include Wu Jianfei, Kimi Qiao Renliang and Bobo.

Mai Haisheng, Yu Siyuan of B.I.Z, Gao Xiaochen and Jacky Xue Zhiqian are confirmed and will be players on an opponent team.

Coming back to Michael, he'll be participating in the star-studded Chengdu Open in November, Asia's only event on the 12-leg ATP Champions Tour circuit.

(Via sports.sina.com.cn, cfensi, asianfanatics.net)

Juan Martin del Potro: The silent assassin who spoils Andy Murray's birthday

I'm not sure if you realised that Juan Martin del Potro is already ranked at no. 5.

It's okay if you don't because at times I thought this Argentine talent was still in the top 20.

After defeating birthday boy Andy Murray 7-6 (7-4), 6-3 at the Madrid Masters yesterday, there were two things on my mind: Andy Murray still has a long way to go before he can master the clay court or del Potro is on the surge to become one of the top 3 players in the world.

The slow and steady del Potro will now try to end a four-match losing streak against Roger Federer.
“I hope I have a good start against Roger tomorrow," said del Potro, who was bageled twice by Federer at this year's Australian Open quarterfinal match.
In another semifinal match, Rafael Nadal will face off with Novak Djokovic.

(Images by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)


Caroline Wozniacki invited to Fernando Verdasco's family dinner in Madrid

I first read about this at loltennis.

In her blog, Caroline Wozniacki wrote about being invited to dinner by Fernando Verdasco and his family in Madrid this week.

According to Wozniacki, it was a typical Spanish restaurant with a flamenco dance performance on stage while enjoying the food.

Wozniacki praised the fantastic food and the great entertainment.

She then revealed the name of the restaurant is Cafe the Chinitas which was situated on a street called Torija at the heart of Madrid.

Wonziacki highly recommend the restaurant!

Looks like she enjoyed the outing with Verdasco and his family that she didn't even mind mentioning about it in her blog.


The rumour between Fernando Verdasco and Caroline Wozniacki first sparked off at Indian Wells earlier this year.

Let's wait and see if there's any progress in their 'friendship'.

May 15, 2009

Rafael Nadal owns the stage; A magical Madrid Masters final is not very far

He works hard on the court. And at times he's quite lucky too..

Rafael Nadal was handed a walkover into the quartersfinals at the Madrid Masters yesterday when his third-round opponent Philipp Kohlschreiber was forced out of the claycourt event with a left leg injury.

Nadal is now bidding for a sixth title of the season and a fourth on clay.

Seriously, there's no better place to make it happen that at the Magic Box!

(Images by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

May 14, 2009

Rafael Nadal: The crowd-puller who didn't pull the ball girl to safety

If you're a Rafael Nadal, then you'll be guaranteed a sold-out crowd.

Playing in front of his homecrowd in his opening match in Madrid, Nadal had quite a number of VIPs who came to watch him play - Spanish Queen Sofia, Madrid mayor Alberto Ruiz Gallardon, former Spanish tennis player Manolo Santana, football star Raul, Real Madrid coach Juande Ramos and film director Pedro Almodovar.


Rafael Nadal powered into the third round of the Madrid Open after a convincing 6-3, 6-1 win over Jurgen Melzer.

During the match, one of the Madrid ball girl fainted and was brought to safety by a security guard.


I bet she was in shock because her rescuer didn't turn out to be Nadal :D

(Images via Yahoo! Sports)

May 13, 2009

An email interview with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

Thanks to Astro for giving us the opportunity to participate in an email interview with French player Jo-Wilfried Tsonga recently.

Worried about Jo Willy's performance on clay, we came up with several questions regarding his preparation and readiness for the French Open, the Grand Slam he missed last year due to a knee injury.

Here are the questions:

Q1: After missing from Monte Carlo and Barcelona, you started your clay season rather late, in less than a month before Roland Garros. Why did you take so long to switch from hard court to clay?

JWT: The first part of the season was relatively long for me and I needed a good break, hence I took some time off and decided to train instead of playing Monte Carlo.

Q2: You withdrew from Barcelona due to precaution against your knee problem. Is your knee okay now?

JWT: All is well now. I felt something will training and due to my injury from last year and preferred not to take any risks.

Q3: You have an attacking game on hard court. So are you going to play it differently on clay?

JWT: I am not about to change my style of play, rather try to get more spin on the ball but altogether I will try to move forward and attack the ball.

Q4: Is clay the most difficult and your least favorite surface?

JWT: I’ve had good results on clay during my junior years and I enjoy playing on clay to the opposite of what many media can say.

Q5: You have won doubles titles partnering Gasquet and Gicquel before. So are you going to play in the men’s doubles at Roland Garros with one of them?

JWT: As of today, May 12, I do not know with whom I will play double at the French Open.

Q6: Do you think you can beat clay court specialist like Nadal and Djokovic?

JWT: I step on the court with the feeling that I can beat anyone so of course I believe in my chances.

Q7: You are featured in the EA Sports Grand Slam Tennis scheduled to be out in June. Are you excited to be included in this new game? Do you play video games with the other players?

JWT: It is a great honor for me to be featured on the cover of the game and to have my ‘double’ in the game. It was always something that was exciting for me to have my own video game. I used to play a lot with my brother and I look forward to playing against the virtual Tsonga.

As you all know, Richard Gasquet has been suspended after a positive cocaine test result and he will miss the French Open.

For Jo Willy's fans, he will be playing in the ARAG ATP World Team Championship teaming up with fellow compatriots Gilles Simon and Jeremy Chardy next week.


Astro SuperSports+ (channel 816) will be showing the tournament from Monday onwards (May 18) until the final match on May 23.

This additional channel will also air French Open 2009 from May 24 to June 7.

Check out the schedule here or log on to Astro website for more information.

For those who wants to catch these tournaments on live stream, there are always a few trusted sources, TennisTV.com and Atdhe.net.

(Image by Javier Soriano/AFP/Getty Images)

Rendy Lu Yen-Hsun down with flu, bundled out in Turkey

Fresh from winning the Israel Open last weekend, Rendy Lu Yen-hsun's winning streak was finally ended by Italian Paolo Lorenzi, who won 2-6, 7-6(5), 6-3 in the first round at the Irzmir Cup in Turkey.

The Asia's no.1 was reportedly caught up with the flu bug.

Here's (a behind-the-scene photo :P) of Rendy waiting for the doctor's report.



(Images by Hamdi of Izmir Cup)

Too happy, too soon?

After listed for just one day in the ATP World Tour calendar, ATP 250 Malaysian Open (tentative name), a USD500k outdoor hard court event has disappeared from the list!

Click image to enlarge

Now first of all, let me show you how I knew that Malaysia was bidding for the ATP event:

January 2009
  • LTAM wrote in their website that "an ATP official, together with a foreign organiser, visited the NTC two weeks earlier".
  • LTAM president Datuk Abdul Razak Latif 'confirmed' to a daily (which is NST) that "Andy Roddick is highly tipped to play in an ATP Tour event in KL come September".
  • I wrote an email to LTAM and they confirmed the reports but said they are still in the bidding process.
  • The manager of a Top 100 player confirmed there's indeed a TBA (to be announced) event.
  • Esther and I speculated that the TBA event should be not very far from Thailand, hence we thought Malaysia had a good chance to win the bid.
February 2009
  • I wrote to the CEO of ATP Adam Helfant regarding the TBA event and asked about the bidding process.
  • Mr Helfant forwarded my email to Brad Drewett, the CEO of ATP International. This is what Brad replied to me: No decision has been made regarding the TBA event in September. I expect a decision to be made sometime in the next three months. I am unable to confirm which cities are candidates for this event due to confidentiality requirements.
May 12, 2009
  • I check the ATP calendar and google for any news every single day from May onwards as I believe the results will be out any time soon.
  • I saw the updated ATP World Tour calendar which listed Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in an ATP 250 event, same week as Thailand Open. Someone informed about the updated calendar in this forum too.
May 13, 2009
I will not make any speculation now until I dig deep into this event.

Anyone who has information can email to me at hcfoo7@gmail.com.

May 12, 2009

You read it here first! Malaysia to host ATP 250 event in September 2009

I cannot describe how happy I was when I checked the ATP World Tour calendar this morning.

Click the image to enlarge.

Malaysia, my home country, has won the bid to organize an ATP 250 event which is scheduled to start on September 28, the same week as the Thailand Open!

Earlier this year, Andy Roddick was speculated to play here.


I'll keep you guys posted if I received any latest updates.

Rafael Nadal is 17 again, never too young to pen a memoir

Madrid Masters favourite Rafael Nadal was spotted with a new shorter hairstyle during a practice on court.

Doesn't he look young, like 17 again?

LOL what the heck am I talking about, Nadal is only 22 going to 23!

Recently Crain's New York Business reported that Nadal might be on the verge of writing a book about his career.


The report said literary agent Larry Kirshbaum has been speaking with publishers about a book from Nadal, an Olympic and multiple Grand Slams champion who has overtaken Swiss star Roger Federer for the top spot in the global tennis rankings.

Well, you're never be too young to write a memoir, especially for someone who has great achievement like Nadal.

(Via AFP; Images via menstennisforums.com)

Now HCFoo takes Serena Williams seriously

Serena Williams really mean it this time.

After blasted the WTA Tour over its policy for dealing with players who pull out of tournaments through injury, Serena Williams 'had no choice' but to play at the Madrid Open Tennis only to retire after the first set citing a right leg injury.

Francesca Schiavone was leading 6-4.

Although her participation was cut short, at least Serena had fun yesterday hanging out with Juan Martin del Potro test-driving a new Toyota Lexus.

Serena likes blogging, twittering and now fangirling.

Serena is no.1. Del Potro gives a cynical smile.

Take it easy, Serena!

(Images by Photo Agency via zimbio.com)

Jelena Dokic's dramatic photos in Sports & Style

Now let's put the family drama aside, here are a few Jelena Dokic photos in Sports & Style.

But there's one photo that particularly stands out from the crowd. I somehow feel a little bit uneasy and slightly disturbed with this one...


(Images via tennisforum.com)

More reports on Rendy Lu Yen-hsun's win at Israel Open

Rendy Lu's wearing a party hat; Beside him is Benjamin Becker

Thanks to Itay from the Israel Open media team who sent us photos and reports regarding Rendy Lu Yen-hsun.
According to Itay, during the prize giving ceremony, Rendy was very noble and wished his finals opponent Benjamin Becker good luck in his future and a speedy recovery (from an ailing shoulder injury).

Rendy also said that he was in Israel back in 2002 (participating in a Future tournament) and whenever anyone asked him, he says that the best place to visit is Israel.

Rendy then took the opportunity to thank everyone involved and said that the players were all very well treated. He also promised to come back to the tournament next year.
The Israel Tennis Center (ITC) CEO, Adv. Janine Strauss then answered Rendy and in front of a crowd of thousands said that Rendy is not only no.1 in Asia, but also no.1 in the hearts of many young Israeli players because he took every opportunity to play with them between his matches and they really love him.

Rendy's
victory is part of a long tradition that is very important to a lot of people in Israel.

The Israel Open was first played in 1979 and returned this year after an absence of 14 years.

The winner of the singles tournament is awarded a historic floating trophy which bears the names of past Israel Open Champions.

The winners in the past include Tom Okker, Harold Solomon, Aaron Krickstein, Brad Gilbert, Amos Mansdorf, Andrie Eduardovich Chesnokov, Jeffrey Gail Tarango, Stefano Pescosolido, Wayne Richard Ferreira, Javier Sanchez and Jimmy Connors.

The trophy will now also proudly bear the name of Asia's no.1 player "Yen-Hsun Lu"!


Itay also revealed that they are planning to write an article on Rendy in their upcoming magazine which due out this summer.

Looking at the huge crowd turn up and the friendliness of the Israel Open media team, we know how passionate these guys are in organizing a world class tennis event.

According to Itay again, the ITC is also working very hard to nurture a generation of first rate tennis player.

To meet their aspirations, the ITC is currently operating 14 centres catering up to 9,000 children each week.

Most of their centres are located in disadvantaged neighborhoods or outlying development towns throughout Israel.

(Images by Israel Open)

May 11, 2009

Updated: Richard Gasquet caught up in an alleged cocaine bust

Richard Gasquet could face a possible career blow after a French sports daily L'Equipe reported that the France's gifted "baby Federer" has tested positive for cocaine.

The newspaper's website reported on Saturday that "traces of the banned drug were found in the Gasquet's urine sample at the Sony Ericsson Open in Key Biscayne, Florida, after he pulled out of that tournament in March".

In happier times - Gasquet with the Miami Dolphin cheerleaders during a
promotional event at the Miami Open


Gasquet cited a right shoulder injury when he withdrew from the Miami Open before his second round match against Albert Montanes.


Gasquet could face a two-year ban if the "B'' sample shows positive result.


Neither Gasquet nor his management team could be reached to explain on the allegations.

Gasquet who has been struggling with his form since Wimbledon 2007 is currently ranked no.23 in the ATP rankings.

Many of us knew that he can party really hard but when it comes to recreational drugs like crack cocaine, seriously we don't want to believe that he's involved, aren't we?

In happier times - Gasquet and Jo-Wilfred Tsonga celebrating their Davis Cup victory by getting down with some go-go girls.

Updates: International Tennis Federation (ITF) spokesman Neil Robinson confirmed that Gasquet has been suspended and his case is pending for hearing.

ITF also said that an anti-doping tribunal should be assembled within 60 days to hear the case.

Gasquet said on Sunday that he was gathering evidence to prove his innocence.

(Via nbcsports.com, AP; Images via menstennisforums.com)

Would anyone take Roger Federer seriously?

“I think he’s playing the tennis of his life right now. But still I’m a great believer I can rattle him. I was so close at the Australian Open and Wimbledon."
~ Roger Federer on Rafael Nadal

Roger Federer believes his form is improving all the time and that he still has what it takes to rattle world no.1 Rafael Nadal and steal the Spaniard’s French Open crown.

(Image via sports.sina.com.cn)

Would WTA take Serena Williams seriously?

"It doesn't matter if you're injured, dead or alive, if you don't play they will fine you heavily. So I have to play whether I am injured or not. That's just how it is so I have no choice."
~ Serena Williams

The world no. 2 blasted the WTA Tour over its policy for dealing with players who pull out of tournaments through injury.

Serena said the
WTA Tour’s fines for missing tournaments was behind her decision to play in the small Marbella tournament right after limping through the final at the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami.

(Image via sports.sina.com.cn)

Weekend winners everywhere

Rome - World no.1 Dinara Safina won her first title of the year Saturday by defeating fellow Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-3, 6-2 in the final of the Italian Open.

Estoril - Spain’s Albert Montanes battled past American James Blake 5-7, 7-6, 6-0 to win the Estoril Open on Sunday.

Meanwhile, in the women's singles, Yanina Wickmayer claimed her first career title with a straight-sets victory over Ekaterina Makarova 7-5, 6-2 to pick up her maiden WTA Tour crown in Portugal.

Munich - Tomas Berdych rallied from four points down in the decisive tiebreaker to beat Mikhail Youzhny 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (5) in the final of the BMW Open Sunday for his first title of the year.

Belgrade - Top-seeded Novak Djokovic beat lucky loser Lukasz Kubot of Poland 6-3, 7-6 (0) in the Serbia Open final to win the first ATP Tour tournament held in his home country.

(Images via Yahoo! Sports, Djokovic's pic by Andrej Isakovic/AFP/Getty Images)

May 10, 2009

Rendy Lu Yen-Hsun wins Israel Open title

After flirting briefly with the red clay in Barcelona recently, Asia's no.1 player Rendy Lu Yen-hsun was back on hard court and the effort paid off.

Rendy won the men's singles title at the Israel Open on Saturday after his opponent pulled out with an injury.

Rendy was leading Benjamin Becker 6-3, 3-1 when Becker decided to retire due to his ailing right shoulder.

The Taiwanese swept through five matches at the second-tier tournament without losing a single set despite entering the competition with a sore back and struggling with his first serve.

For winning the title, Rendy earned almost US$15,000 as well as keeping his rank in the top 70 players in the world.

He is scheduled to play next in a Turkish tournament, Izmir Cup, in the coming week where he is the top seed.

Updates: Here are more photos of Rendy in Israel!

Thanks to Esther for the photo!

(Via rti.org.tw; Image via Israel Open)

Moneymaker Kei Nishikori to be featured in ESPN the Magazine

Kei Nishikori is currently ranked at no. 118 in the world and yet his endorsement deals are said to have approached the level of top 10 players like Andy Roddick and the Williams sisters.

How does he do that?

You can read all about it on the ESPN website or download the article here.

The story written by Lindsay Berra will appear in the May 18 issue of ESPN the Magazine.

Thanks to Olivier of IMG for this piece of article.

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