2014/09/30

Li Na’s Retirement Ceremony in Around the Grounds Beijing Photo Gallery

(September 30, 2014) BEIJING – Photos by Natalie Ho from around the grounds to the main interview room on Tuesday of the China Open including Li Na’s retirement ceremony.

Abigail Hinto and Natalie Ho are in Beijing, China covering the China Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow their twitter updates on @TennisNewsTPN.

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Final Push to London Starts in Asia

Tomas Berdych

Tomas Berdych

By Abigail Hinto

(September 30, 2014) BEIJING, CHINA – It’s a tight race to the season-ending World Tour Finals in London with 3 more slots remaining (Stan Wawrinka and Marin Cilic are almost guaranteed in as grand slam champions and are 4th and 5th in the race respectively) and 6 players with a little over 500 race points separating No. 6 Kei Nishikori to No. 11 Grigor Dimotrov.  This week, with Tokyo and Beijing offering 500 points to the winner, could boost a player’s chances of qualifying to the prestigious season-ending event.  And here at the China Open, three of those players are fighting for their spot.

 

Monday night, Dimitrov started his campaign to qualify for the first time to the World Tour Finals with a 3-set victory over Fernando Verdasco.  He faces Pablo Andujar next, a good draw for him in a very loaded field.

 

Tuesday afternoon, Tomas Berdych took his step to once again be part of the 8-player field in London with a comfortable 6-1, 6-2 win over Feliciano Lopez.  Berdych only needed to be solid and steady against a poorly playing Lopez.  Lopez especially had trouble with his serve throwing in double faults in all service games that he was broken.  Twice he double faulted in games when he was down break point.  Berdych has not been playing well in a while, so a solid win plus a win in doubles too, could help him recover his form from earlier in the season when he reached the semis of the Australian Open and won his ninth title in Rotterdam.

 

Another player finding his form is Andy Murray.  He started his Asian swing a week earlier than the other two winning the inaugural title at the Shenzhen Open, his first after his back surgery, where he managed to get through some tough matches.  Murray would like to continue his winning ways to qualify for the 7th straight year for the World Tour Finals held in his home country.  He eked out another tough match Tuesday night against Jerzy Janowicz winning in 3 sets 6-7(9), 6-4, 6-2 in 2 hours and 28 minutes.

 

So who out of these three will make it to London?

 

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, who already has qualified for the year-end championship, demolished Guillermo García-López 6-2, 6-1 in his opening match.

Abigail Hinto and Natalie Ho are in Beijing, China covering the China Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow their twitter updates on @TennisNewsTPN.

 

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Rafael Nadal Returns with a Win in Beijing

 

By Abigail Hinto

(September 30, 2014) BEIJING – What rust?  Rafael Nadal didn’t show any rust in his first singles match back to the competition after being sidelined with a right wrist injury for three months.  In a comfortable 6-4, 6-0 win over Richard Gasquet.

Nadal was playing aggressively off both his forehand and backhand, hitting winners all over the court.  Once Gasquet was pushed off the court with Nadal dictating play, and there was nothing more the Frenchman could do to get back in to the point.  His only other option was to be as aggressive as Nadal, which he managed to do well in the first set earning him a couple of break points but which unfortunately for him, he was unable to convert especially in the crucial tenth game as Nadal saved the break point with an ace while serving for the set.

 

The second set saw Gasquet’s frustration boil over as he started making more errors with overly aggressive play while Nadal was as steady as rock both offensively and defensively.

 

There were no signs of the wrist injury from Nadal, “the wrist is much, much better,” according to Nadal.  “Is almost recovered hundred percent.  I cannot say ‘hundred percent’ because when you have some feelings on it when you warm up at the beginning, it’s not hundred percent.  But let’s say 90 something percent.  The most important thing is the wrist is not limiting me to play my tennis, to hit the normal backhand.”

 

Overall, Rafael Nadal is happy to be back on court playing again.  “I have to be happy the way that I played, no?  Three months without a match, winning against a player who is a good player like Richard, is a very positive comeback for me.”

 

“More important than win, lose, is spend time on court.  And winning, I have another chance to play another match after tomorrow, no?”

 

“That’s the key for me today:  spend time on court, play matches.  At least I going to play two matches minimum here.  That’s a positive thing.  I’m going to try my best to play three.”

 

Next up for Nadal is Peter Gojowczyk who took him to three sets earlier this year in Doha in their only meeting so far.

Abigail Hinto and Natalie Ho are in Beijing, China covering the China Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow their twitter updates on @TennisNewsTPN.

 

Photos by Natalie Ho.

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Serena Williams Escapes A Bagel Set to Win Opening Round in Beijing

Serena Williams in press

(September 29, 2014) No. 1 Serena Williams escaped a bagel set against her by Spanish qualifier Silvia Soler-Espinosa when she trailed 0-5 in the first set but then reeled off 13 of the next 15 games to win her first round match at the China Open on Monday 7-5, 6-2.

The holder of 18 major titles lost her serve three times in the first 15 minutes of the match to trail 5-0.

“I just didn’t want to lose ‑‑ I didn’t want to lose 6‑Love,” Williams said. “I just started fighting. I was like, Just let me at least try to break here.”

The last player to dish out 6-0 set against the 33-year-old was another Spaniard, Anabel Medina Garrigues, in Madrid last year. Williams won that match 6-3, 0-6, 7-5.

Williams who was forced to retire last week in Wuhan against Alize Cornet due to dizziness, said that she’s better this week.

“I felt good today,” Williams said. “I definitely feel like I was over it.

“This week I’ve been okay. I wasn’t sure if I was going to play or not. You know, I just started hitting a couple days ago, taking it day by day. Finally I decided I’m here, I may as well see what happens. Here I am.”

 

CHINA OPEN 2014 – BEIJING
USD 5,427,105
27 SEP – 5 OCT 2014

RESULTS – SEPTEMBER 29, 2014
Singles – First Round
[1] S Williams (USA) d [Q] S Soler-Espinosa (ESP) 75 62
[9] A Ivanovic (SRB) d [Q] B Bencic (SUI) 62 61
A Cornet (FRA) d [10] J Jankovic (SRB) 75 36 64
[13] L Safarova (CZE) d C Giorgi (ITA) 76(3) 64
[14] F Pennetta (ITA) d C McHale (USA) 76(3) 64
[Q] T Pironkova (BUL) d [WC] M Kirilenko (RUS) 64 61
[Q] M Barthel (GER) d [Q] B Mattek-Sands (USA) 46 61 64
L Davis (USA) d [Q] Y Xu (CHN) 63 63
S Peng (CHN) d [WC] K Zhang (CHN) 64 61
C Garcia (FRA) d S Zhang (CHN) 61 64

Doubles – Second Round
[2] C Black (ZIM) / S Mirza (IND) d C Dellacqua (AUS) / L Raymond (USA) w/o (Dellacqua: lower leg injury)

Doubles – First Round
[7] G Muguruza (ESP) / C Suárez Navarro (ESP) d C McHale (USA) / C Scheepers (RSA) 62 62
[Alt] M Barthel (GER) / M Minella (LUX) d [WC] B Mattek-Sands (USA) / S Zheng (CHN) 76(7) 63
[WC] S Halep (ROU) / I Olaru (ROU) d O Kalashnikova (GEO) / K Koukalova (CZE) 64 76(4)

ORDER OF PLAY – TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 30, 2014
NATIONAL TENNIS STADIUM start 12:30 pm
WTA – E Svitolina (UKR) vs [4] M Sharapova (RUS)

Not Before 2:30 pm
ATP – [1] N Djokovic (SRB) vs G Garcia-Lopez (ESP)
ATP – R Gasquet (FRA) vs [2] R Nadal (ESP)

Not Before 7:45 pm
WTA – [1] S Williams (USA) vs [Q] T Pironkova (BUL)

Not Before 9:00 pm
ATP – [7] E Gulbis (LAT) vs F Fognini (ITA)

LOTUS COURT start 12:30
ATP – [WC] F Lopez (ESP) vs [3] T Berdych (CZE)

Not Before 2:30 pm
WTA – [WC] L Zhu (CHN) vs [2] S Halep (ROU)
WTA – C Garcia (FRA) vs [16] V Williams (USA)

Not Before 6:30 pm
ATP – J Janowicz (POL) vs [6] [WC] A Murray (GBR)

MOON COURT start 12:30
WTA – R Vinci (ITA) vs [5] A Radwanska (POL)
WTA – C Chuang (TPE) / O Govortsova (BLR) vs [5] A Hlavackova (CZE) / S Peng (CHN)
WTA – [8] E Bouchard (CAN) vs S Lisicki (GER)
WTA – R Oprandi (SUI) vs [9] A Ivanovic (SRB)

BRAD DREWETT COURT start 2:00 pm
ATP – [8] J Isner (USA) vs S Giraldo (COL)
ATP – T Robredo (ESP) vs A Seppi (ITA)
ATP – [Q] M Klizan (SVK) vs L Mayer (ARG)

COURT 3 start 12:30
WTA – [15] A Petkovic (GER) vs M Keys (USA)
WTA – [7] A Kerber (GER) vs Z Diyas (KAZ)
WTA – [14] F Pennetta (ITA) vs C Suárez Navarro (ESP)
WTA – K Mladenovic (FRA) / A Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) vs Y Xu (CHN) / J Zheng (CHN)

COURT 4 start 12:30
WTA – [3] K Peschke (CZE) / K Srebotnik (SLO) vs J Gajdosova (AUS) / A Tomljanovic (CRO)
WTA – S Kuznetsova (RUS) vs K Nara (JPN)
ATP-After suitable rest – F Lopez (ESP) / M Mirnyi (BLR) vs L Kubot (POL) / R Lindstedt (SWE)
ATP – J Cabal (COL) / R Farah (COL) vs [2] A Peya (AUT) / B Soares (BRA)

COURT 7 start 12:30
WTA – [12] E Makarova (RUS) vs [Q] P Hercog (SLO)
ATP – [Q] J Brunstrom (SWE) / N Monroe (USA) vs M Cilic (CRO) / S Gonzalez (MEX)
ATP – J Benneteau (FRA) vs P Andujar (ESP)
ATP – [Q] M Kukushkin (KAZ) vs P Cuevas (URU)

COURT 8 start 12:30
ATP – I Karlovic (CRO) vs [Q] P Gojowczyk (GER)

Not Before 2:00 pm
ATP – [3] D Marrero (ESP) / F Verdasco (ESP) vs J Rojer (NED) / H Tecau (ROU)
WTA – [Q] M Barthel (GER) vs [13] L Safarova (CZE)

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Doubles for Singles, Nadal Returns to the Court After Wrist Injury

By Abigail Hinto

(September 29, 2014) BEIJING – Rafael Nadal was back on the court on Monday for the first time since injuring his right wrist in July to play a doubles match at the China Open. He partnered with Spanish compatriot Pablo Andujar in his return.

 

The ever enthusiastic crowd of Chinese fans greeted all four singles players, Rafael Nadal and Pablo Andujar versus Tomas Berdych and John Isner, playing their first matches here at the China Open as doubles players with their usual zeal and passion.  Along with the return of Rafael Nadal to competition after being out for 3 months with a wrist injury, a first round doubles match brought out a full and noisy crowd to the Moon Court of the Beijing National Tennis Center with numerous Spanish flags swaying with the cool breeze under a hot sun.

 

Meanwhile, who cares for a team uniform for these singles players when no one bothered to coordinate with their teammates. Andujar, Berdych and Isner were all in white shirts with varying designs with Berdych sporting printed grey and orange shorts.  Nadal, on the other hand was the standout in an aquamarine/teal shirt with orange highlights and grey shorts.

 

As for the match, both the first and second sets were close with only one break each deciding the winner of the sets.  Andujar was broken in the first set serving 5-6 down, deuce, when Nadal, eager to win the point for his team crossed for a volley, cut it too close and netted the ball.  The second set break came on against Isner’s serve thanks to Andujar’s returning.  No wonder Andujar was chosen by the team to receive Isner’s serve when the first game reached the deciding point. Another good return from Andujar and the break was the Spaniards’.  Nadal then served out the set for 6-4 but not before facing 2 break back points.  A poor return by Berdych off a second serve from Nadal, then another error netting a volley while approaching the net, saw Nadal hold to take the second set.

 

The match was then decided in a match tiebreak which Berdych and Isner ran away with after being down 1-3 with great plays from both players winning 8 consecutive points until eventually winning the match tiebreak 10-4. Final score: 7-5, 4-6, 10-4.

 

A fun, competitive atmosphere for these single players who probably played doubles for match practice but definitely went out there to win.

Nadal begins his quest for the singles title Tuesday, when he faces Richard Gasquet in the opening round.

 

Abigail Hinto and Natalie Ho are in Beijing, China covering the China Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow their twitter updates on @TennisNewsTPN.

 

Photos by Natalie Ho.

 

 

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Final Thoughts on the China Open

 

By Abigail Hinto

(October 6, 2013) BEIJING –

1.  Should the China Open ATP event switch status with Shanghai?  As it stands now, Beijing is the only WTA Premier Mandatory tournament that isn’t combined with the same-level ATP Masters 1000.   The women are supposed to be the bigger draw here in Beijing, but the tournament often manage to get a big men’s field as an ATP 500, so on the ground, the feeling is that it’s a similar level event.  This year alone, it boasted 6 of the top 10 ATP players.  The venue is China’s National Tennis Center where its center court seats 15,000 spectators, already fit for a Masters 1000.  The event draws a big crowd not only because it’s a combined event, but also because of its position in the calendar where it often falls during a week-long holiday in China.  Therefore the Shanghai tournament the following week suffers in attendance.  No way would people go on leave from work following a week of holiday.  So optics wise, Beijing wins over Shanghai.

 

I also feel the venue for the tournament in Beijing is more accessible to the public than the one in Shanghai.  Shanghai lacks access to public transport while Beijing has a metro stop right in front of the tennis center.

 

However, if the two China tournaments do switch status then the ATP would have a calendar where the bigger 1000 Masters event will come before the smaller ATP 500.  But when has the ATP calendar ever made perfect sense?

 

2.  I keep mentioning this because it cannot be escaped.  I’m talking about Beijing’s unhealthy air quality situation.  Personally, already coming from a very polluted city, Beijing’s haze is something I’ve never seen before.  It’s right there in front of you, you can see it, feel it, smell it too.  The air quality index have shown numbers labeled as “Unhealthy” “Very Unhealthy”, “Hazardous”  I don’t know how players manage to play in this condition, but when asked, they’re very blase about it.

 

Rafael Nadal: “Yesterday and especially today again the pollution is here, so that makes the feeling, you know, not beautiful.  But if you talk about if I feel when I am breathing, no, I don’t feel.”

 

Tomas Berdych: “I think it’s quite used to here.  Probably we not going to get anything more than that.  But that’s how it is.  We are here in Beijing.”

 

Serena Williams: “Well, I’m a California girl, so I can’t help you there.”  And again: “I don’t know why, but I felt nothing.”

 

Novak Djokovic:  “It is what it is.  It’s something that has been the same for last few years that I been coming back here.  The people who are in organization of the tournament, they are trying make us feel at home and do everything possible in order to get a good tournament.  Sometimes you cannot effect the weather.  It’s nature and he’s a higher force.”

 

I guess, you also can’t ask the players to bad-mouth the tournament that’s hosting them.

 

3.  Every time the two tours land in China, comments about the Chinese fans inevitably come up.  Timid Asians?  That’s a falsehood when it comes to Chinese fandom.  They’re as enthusiastic, creative, resourceful as you’ll ever see.  From Djokovic fans, to Nadal fans, to Kvitova fans and Serena fans, they go all out in showing their support for their favorite players.  Banners, face paints, t-shirts, pins, gifts, coordinated cheering they’ve got everything here.  And it brings a lively atmosphere to so many of the matches all around the venue.  But there’s also a downside to it, as when a fan breached security, jumped over a fence and got close to Nadal during one of his practice sessions.

 

The views expressed here are those of the author.  Abigail Hinto was covering the Beijing Open for Tennis Panorama News.

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Novak Djokovic Tops Rafael Nadal for China Open Title

Novak Djokovic

By Abigail Hinto

(October 6, 2013) Out to prove something after losing the No. 1 ranking to Rafael Nadal as of Monday, Novak Djokovic came out firing on all cylinders, hitting winners in all corners, defending from everywhere and serving effectively well in his 6-3, 6-4 win to claim the China Open.  But what sealed the win was Djokovic’s ability to sustain the high level of tennis and focused determination he started with until the end of the match.  As Djokovic said, what what was the difference between his last two matches against Nadal and this one was “probably my serve, but also kind of emotional stability in the crucial moments I managed to stay tough and not drop in the concentration, which I think I did in both Montréal and US Open in the important moments.  You know, I learned my lesson.  It was few very tough and close matches that I lost against Rafa in hard courts, especially the last one in US Open final.”

 

For Rafael Nadal, the opposite happened.  Unable to execute his shots, the few opportunities he had controlling the points, he ended up missing on his final shot.  “I didn’t see the way to stop him this afternoon.  This afternoon he was too strong for me.  I didn’t play my best match this afternoon, but he played at a very high level with his serve,” said Nadal. Nadal added, “(Djokovic) was able to hit all the balls where he wants to hit.  When that’s happening against a player like Novak, you are dead.  You don’t  have not one chance.   So that’s what happened.  I played against a great player, one of the best players that I ever seen playing very well.  Was not the day to beat him.”  Nadal failed to make any inroads, not able to create any break points in Djokovic’s service games, and he was broken early in both sets.  Nadal ended the match with more unforced errors and less winners than Djokovic, a surefire recipe to a loss.

 

Novak Djokovic wins the China Open for the fourth time with a comfortable 6-3, 6-4 win, remaining undefeated in all the 4 years he’s played in Beijing.

A tournament always just has one winner.  But this time, the two top players in the world will leave Beijing with great feelings about their week.  While Rafael Nadal recaptures No. 1 from Novak Djokovic, Djokovic has finally managed to defeat Rafael Nadal again after losing to him the last three times to retain his trophy.

 

For Rafael Nadal, getting back to No. 1 “is something special for me.  I’m enjoying the situation that I’m playing one of the best seasons of my career and probably one of the more emotional years, if not the most.”

 

For Novak Djokovic, he said he “needed this win today.  I really wanted to get my hands on the trophy and win against Nadal, who has been the best player so far in 2013.”

 

So the most prolific rivalry in men’s tennis closes another chapter to their story.  But the story is far from over.  In fact next week, a new chapter begins in Shanghai.

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Notes From Behind the Wall at the 2013 China Open

 

by Abigail Hinto

(September 30, 2013) BEIJING – Notes from Behind the Wall is back for the 2013 edition of the China Open.  The wall is proving to be a tough barrier to our dispatches with the Wi-Fi not working at the media center and the VPN not connecting on my laptop.  But we’re persistent, and we will manage.

 

– First up, the ever persistent haze and smog.  Were we just lucky last year when the whole tournament made it through with mostly clear skies?  Flying in on Monday, I thought I was arriving in Beijing at dawn and not at high Noon.  Lights were already turned on for the courts by 3:30pm.  Pictures looked like stills for some horror movies.  The app for Beijing’s air quality shows that today’s is “Unhealthy.”  I can only feel sorry for the players as they play through this condition.

 

IMG_9426

Rafael Nadal had a scheduled appearance at the booth of Kunlun, the water sponsor.  When we found out he hadn’t arrived yet at the scheduled hour, we decided we had time to check it out.  As we made it to the sponsors area, we didn’t even have to search for the booth of Kunlun, as slowly approaching us were a mob of people and in the middle of it all was Nadal himself.  It felt like a stampede of wildebeests was coming straight at you and you only had a second to get out of the way.

 

Serena Williams China Open doubles

–  Top singles players nowadays usually play doubles outside the grand slams to maybe get in a match before their singles matches or have “practice matches” to help them with their games.  They try to have more fun and are less intense on the court.  But on Monday, at the Williams/Williams- Huber/Chan match, Serena Williams and to a lesser extent, Venus Williams showed that they’re not taking this match lightly.  Serena was definitely the more intense player, constantly fist-pumping and urging on Venus.  And the fans were responding to them with shouts of “C’mon, Serena!” and “C’mon, Venus!”

 

But the star of the match turned out to be Hao-Ching Chan.  She showed from the start she was never intimidated and was never afraid.  And as she started to match the Williams’ intensity with her own, grunting along in her high-pitched voice, going toe-to-toe in the baseline exchanges and poaching at the net for volley winners, she turned the fans to her side.  As much as she was fighting hard out there, she was showing that she was enjoying the battle too, flashing smiles every time she comes out on top.  And the crowd loved it and was treated to a competitive and exciting match.  Huber/Chan eventually saved match points, and another volley winner from Chan in turn set up match point for her team which they eventually converted as Serena served a double fault.  An unfortunate end (for Serena’s racquet as well – chucked and thrown away after the double fault) to an otherwise high quality, high intensity doubles match – 6-7 (3), 6-4, 11-9.  The fans left having discovered a player to root for in Hao-Ching Chan.

Abigail Hinto and Natalie Ho are covering the 2013 China Open in Beijing for Tennis Panorama News.

Photos from Monday’s play and the players party from Natalie Ho.

SCHEDULE – TUESDAY, 1 OCTOBER 2013

NATIONAL TENNIS STADIUM start 12:30 pm
[1] S Williams (USA) vs [WC] F Schiavone (ITA) – WTA

Not Before 3:00 PM
[1] N Djokovic (SRB) vs L Rosol (CZE) – ATP
[Q] S Giraldo (COL) vs [2] R Nadal (ESP) – ATP

Not Before 7:30 PM
B Jovanovski (SRB) vs [4] N Li (CHN) – WTA
[3] D Ferrer (ESP) vs V Pospisil (CAN) – ATP

LOTUS COURT start 12:30 pm
F Mayer (GER) vs [5] R Gasquet (FRA) – ATP

Not Before 3:00 PM
[13] S Lisicki (GER) vs [WC] V Williams (USA) – WTA
M Niculescu (ROU) vs [6] C Wozniacki (DEN) – WTA
P Andujar (ESP) vs [4] T Berdych (CZE) – ATP

MOON COURT start 12:30 pm
A Seppi (ITA) vs [6] S Wawrinka (SUI) – ATP

Not Before 2:30 PM
[10] R Vinci (ITA) vs [WC] S Zhang (CHN) – WTA
V Lepchenko (USA) vs [9] P Kvitova (CZE) – WTA

Not Before 6:30 PM
L Robson (GBR) vs [7] A Kerber (GER) – WTA

COURT 1 start 12:30 pm
S Querrey (USA) vs M Youzhny (RUS) – ATP
[8] J Isner (USA) vs [WC] D Wu (CHN) – ATP
[11] S Stephens (USA) vs [Q] E Bouchard (CAN) – WTA
N Djokovic (SRB) / S Wawrinka (SUI) vs [2] M Bhupathi (IND) / R Lindstedt (SWE) – ATP – After suitable rest

COURT 3 start 12:30 pm
F Verdasco (ESP) vs [Q] S Devvarman (IND) – ATP

Not Before 2:00 PM
J Goerges (GER) / B Zahlavova Strycova (CZE) vs [2] S Hsieh (TPE) / S Peng (CHN) – WTA
[Q] Y Lu (TPE) vs N Davydenko (RUS) – ATP
M Fyrstenberg (POL) / M Matkowski (POL) vs F Fognini (ITA) / A Seppi (ITA) – ATP – After suitable rest

COURT 4 start 12:30 pm
[6] R Kops-Jones (USA) / A Spears (USA) vs V King (USA) / G Voskoboeva (KAZ) – WTA

Not Before 3:00 PM
P Kohlschreiber (GER) / M Youzhny (RUS) vs C Fleming (GBR) / J Marray (GBR) – ATP – After suitable rest

COURT 7 start 12:30 pm
[Q] L Davis (USA) vs [12] C Suarez Navarro (ESP) – WTA
M Matosevic (AUS) vs J Benneteau (FRA) – ATP
K Mladenovic (FRA) / F Pennetta (ITA) vs [Alt] S Soler-Espinosa (ESP) / C Suarez Navarro (ESP) – WTA – After suitable rest
S Lisicki (GER) / A Medina Garrigues (ESP) vs D Hantuchova (SVK) / L Raymond (USA) – WTA – After suitable rest

COURT 8 start 12:30 pm
V Dushevina (RUS) / A Parra Santonja (ESP) vs [4] J Jankovic (SRB) / K Srebotnik (SLO) – WTA
M Kirilenko (RUS) vs U Radwanska (POL) – WTA
T Haas (GER) / F Mayer (GER) vs [WC] M Gong (CHN) / Z Li (CHN) – ATP – After suitable rest
[1] S Errani (ITA) / R Vinci (ITA) vs H Chan (TPE) / L Huber (USA) – WTA – After suitable rest

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New Season, New Goals

Andy Murray 12 26 Abu Dhabi

By Abigail Hinto

(December 26, 2012) ABU DHABI – Six of the top eleven players in the world,  are gathered in Abu Dhabi to start their season at the Mubadala World Tennis Championships (MWTC). Three of the players, namely Janko Tipsarevic, Tomas Berdych and Andy Murray showed up on Tuesday for their pre-tournament news conferences.  No. 11 Nicolas Almagro replaced Rafael Nadal, who withdrew from the event with a stomach virus.

Despite all three belonging in the top 10, and despite the small gap in their rankings, these three players are in vastly different stages in their careers with varying expectations, pressures and goals. And the goals they’ve set for themselves for the new season give an interesting insight to how they see their careers, where they’re at now and what they feel they should be able to accomplish.
Tipsarevic, the relative newcomer in the top 10 has set his sights on qualifying for the World Tour Finals in London. And with his best showing at a grand slam only consisting of two quarterfinal appearances, both at the US Open this year and last, he aims to have deeper runs at the slams this year. His tight quarterfinal loss against David Ferrer at this year’s US Open has shown him that though he’s not quite there yet in the level he needs to challenge the top players, he’s getting close.
Tomas Berdych meanwhile has already made finals and a couple of semifinals at the majors. His goal now, is to hold that trophy. Saying that he was happy for Andy Murray finally winning his slam, noting that it’s good that someone had once again broken the stranglehold Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic had on winning the majors, could acknowledging Murray’s breakthrough give Berdych the inspiration to try to win one for himself as well? Davis Cup this year, a grand slam next year?
As for Andy Murray, after finally winning that major he’s been working so hard for and been pressured on winning since he was first considered a contender in 2008, how does he re-set his goals? Murray is a short-term goal-setter which he says he’s always been with his career. So, it’s one major at a time for him, now focusing solely on the Australian Open trophy. Asked if reaching no.1 is a top priority, Murray answers that it’s not, as that ranking only comes with the results from every tournament he plays.
And as the Mubadala World Tennis Championships starts on Wednesday, we’ll get to see these three players finally begin their first step towards their goals.
Abigail Hinto is covering the Mubadala World Tennis Championships in Abu Dhabi, UAE as media for Tennis Panorama News. Follow her updates on twitter at @TennisNewsTPN.
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All photos by Abigail Hinto for Tennis Panorama
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A Fan’s Guide to Beijing and the China Open

By Abigail Hinto

BEIJING, China – The week of the China Open is a perfect opportunity and the perfect time to visit Beijing. That is the Golden Week in China, a week-long holiday, when they celebrate their National Day. The infamous Beijing traffic is gone, so it’s easier to get around the city and the weather is just right. The tourist spots will be more crowded though, but you can have your pick and choose where to go. Definitely set aside a day outside the tournament to visit the Great Wall and the Forbidden City. I took a guided tour with www.beijingtourguide.com. For only RMB200, you’re in a small tour van (we were just 5) where you get an English-speaking tour guide to show you around the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square, a stop at a jade factory where you get your lunch that’s included in the package, a silk factory tour, and of course a hike to a section of the Great Wall. Since we were only five in the group, we were able to decide amongst ourselves to skip the more famous section of the Great Wall (Badaling Wall) and opt for the one without the cable car, the tougher hike, but the lesser crowds, the Ju Yong Guan section.

 

The China Open is held in the Olympic Park, and it’s quite far from the city. So it’s better to stay at a hotel that’s within the Olympic Park area. The Intercontinental Hotel-Beichen is the official tournament hotel and is right in front of the Olympic Park. If you stay there, you may get a room that has a view of the Bird’s Nest and the Water Cube which are impressive architectural structures and beautifully lighted at night. Just a note, if you book with the Intercontinental for the week of the tournament, make sure they confirm your reservation because they can cancel your reservation for you without any notification because it would be fully-booked for the China Open. From the hotel, it’s a 10-minute taxi ride to the tennis stadium.

Beijing is huge and you’ll never run out of options to see and do. And with the tournament on, there are only so many things you can squeeze in your days. But as they say, do as the Beijingers, when in Beijing, have a Peking Duck at Da Dong Restaurant.

Abigail Hinto was covering the China Open in Beijing for Tennis Panorama News.

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