focus: qizhong stadium



qi zhong stadium

Since 2005, Shanghai has hosted the Tennis Masters Cup, the ATP Tour’s year-end tournament. It wasn’t lost on TSF that the facility, completed in October ’05, was erected specifically for this purpose.

Scorelines: Rafa Nadal and David Ferrer have reached the semifinals from the Gold Group. Had Ferrer not routed Richard Gasquet 6-1, 6-1, the Frenchman would be in the semis instead of Rafa. Meanwhile, the Red Group semis are still up in the air, with Roger Federer, Andy Roddick, and Fernando Gonzalez still in contention. Barring injury withdrawals from these three, Nikolay Davydenko is officially out of the tournament.

FYI: The Shanghai Qizhong Forest Sports City Tennis Center is located in the Minhang District, southwest of the city. The environmentally-conscious design was the brainchild of architect Mitsuru Senda and his Environment Design Institute (EDI). “In many cases, sports facilities involve very big spaces,” says EDI’s design policy, “and it is therefore necessary to consider closely just what influence they will have on the surrounding environment.”

From this philosophy came a 15,000-seat arena considered the largest tennis venue in Asia. A bird’s-eye view of the arena’s roof shows a peony, which is an homage to the country’s national (favorite) flower. The roof, capable of withstanding typhoon-strong winds, consists of eight retractable “petals” which take 8 minutes to retract or cover the stadium.

qi zhong stadium

See more photos of the stadium (plus a virtual tour) after the cut…

clement to 2007: peace out!



arnaud clement 2007

Arnaud Clement and his doubles partner Michael Llodra (not pictured) have not been doing so well post-season; their seventh-seeded pairing lost all three of their round-robin matches at the Tennis Masters Cup Shanghai, first to Knowles and Nestor 2-6, 7-5, 10-5, then to Dlouhy and Vizner 3-6, 6-3, 10-5, and finally to Aspelin and Knowles 6-3, 7-5.

Have a good vacay and we’ll see you rowdy Frenchmen in 2008!

(photos by Getty Images)

the masters cup without its gaucho



Let there not be any doubt that the real story (and prologue) of this year’s Tennis Masters Cup is David Nalbandian’s absence, a matter well-noted by NYT’s Chris Clarey.

I, for one, can forgive him for not making the schlep from Argentina to Shanghai — a trip which would have demanded a minimum of 32 hours travel time from Buenos Aires, one way — to be the first alternate. True, he won the Cup as an alternate in ’05, but he’s just won two Masters Series events in less than 3 weeks; why risk jet lag if all he’s going to do is keep the bench warm (Tommy Robredo is doing a mighty fine job of doing so, by the way)? This way, Nalbandian gets to end his 2007 season on a high note.

This year’s eight-man draw seems to be missing an ingredient -– a sauce, or perhaps some spices -– to make things interesting. Despite the close contest between Roddick and Davydenko, I slogged through it impatiently. Maybe there’s more to be said for style — both in fashion and play -– than some (at least those not familiar with this blog) may think. Without a stylist to counter their respectively stiff presences, there’s little flavor to find here.

The exception, of course, was the match between Roger Federer and Fernando Gonzalez, a battle so moist, it needed extra bread to soak up all the sauce. Once the inevitable (Federer taking his 11th straight win over Fernando) turned into the impossible (Gonzo upsetting in three sets), the whole Cup has taken on a vastly different tone. It hasn’t hurt that the ATP’s latest darling, Nole Djokovic, has also stumbled.

There’s no sheriff in town now. Let’s see who can find their gun.

Michael Shaw writes about tennis and other subjects for the Los Angeles Times, and is also an artist. He can be reached at michaelshaw_sar AT yahoo DOT com. Read his previous posts for TSF here.

the terracotta warriors unveiled in shanghai



Those amazing terracotta warriors of the eight men playing at the Tennis Masters Cup Shanghai were unveiled on Sunday, November 11, at 1:30 p.m. (local) at Qi Zhong Stadium.

terracotta warriors - tmc shanghai - 2007

Photographer Quentin Shih took this photo above of the players — that’s David Ferrer, Nole Djokovic, Roger Federer, Nands Gonzalez, Nikolay Davydenko, Rafa Nadal, Richard Gasquet, and Andy Roddick — standing next to their likenesses.

laury dizengremel commission - terra cotta warriors

Artist Laury Dizengremel, commissioned to work on these pieces, wrote to TSF two weeks ago from China.

“This [project] is a very exciting commission,” she said. “I’ve been to China 16 times over the last 6 years (am here right now creating the last few ‘heads’ as they qualify, working with two Chinese sculptor friends). I have made several monumental sculptures as a guest of the government, toured the country extensively for research, and love China!”

See close-ups of the players next to their warriors after the cut…

wearing red didn’t help their luck



The slippery slides of Roger Federer and Nikolay Davydenko couldn’t be helped by the good luck, in Chinese culture, brought by wearing red. Both are playing in their first round-robin matches at the Tennis Masters Cup Shanghai this week.

nikolay davydenko and roger federer - shanghai

Andy Roddick (in Lacoste) beat Kolya (in white/red Airness) in a 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 match. The American (is that ok with you, Shain?) had a second-set blip that left him throwing down his racquet, but found his mojo in time to make a run of five straight games in the third set to go up 5-1.

Meanwhile, R-Fed suffered his first back-to-back loss since Hamburg/Roland Garros in 2003. This year, he lost in the third round of the Paris Masters Series to David Nalbandian, and in this first round-robin match in Shanghai against Fernando Gonzalez, who notched his first win against Federer in 11 tries. The scoreline: 4-6, 7-6 (1), 7-5.

(photos by Getty Images)