Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Woo hoo!
Exactly one month from today, I will be attending the Shanghai Masters Tennis Cup where Rafael Nadal will be playing.  Live.  In the flesh.   At the Qi Zhong stadium, aiming to be on par with 'the Wimbledon' and 'the Roland Garros'.  Roger Federer, Mr. Djokovic and Andy Murray, yup the top four seeds, are all scheduled to play--although rumor has it that Federer might skip out.  Don't matter--I wanna see NADAL!  

(I hope I don't scream like a Beatle girl like I did with Moises when my girlhood idol Cher descended from the rafters of the Staples Center.  Couldn't help it--it was primal).

It's a week of play with 8 players in a round robin tournament.  I figure I'd catch him in the Semi-Finals, cuz there are two matches played that day and Rafa is bound to playing one of them.  Actually, I doubled my chance to see him because I was originally gonna shell out for an A+ seat (yes my personal valuation of seeing Nadal play live in Shanghai was worth it), and then when I went to by the ticket 2 months in advance all the A+ seats were gone for the whole week!  (My sis says that tennis is only second to basketball in China.)  So I actually had enough to buy an A seat for two matches on Day 2 of play, and then a B seat for the 2 Semi-Final matches.  Of these 4 matches, I'm hoping Nadal will be playing in at least one of them.

I was lucky to grow up in Southern California where the public parks always had tennis courts and where I would play with school friends starting in junior high. (The Williams sisters actually started playing on the courts in south central LA.)  Speaking of my sis, we watched the epic 4 1/2 hour battle between Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe while I was cornrowing her very long hair--both took about the same time.

But nothing could beat the playing of Wimbledon this year.  I am forever altered and in awe of Nadal and Federer, battling it out over 6 hours and 3 rain delays.  The grace under pressure was so awesome and the play was ethereal.  It came down to Nadal being so focussed and wanting it more and never letting up physically.  Federer couldn't win a point with just one of his laser winners, but had to shoot off three before he could win a point.  Nadal himself was tireless, and precise and epitome of a champion mindset.  And so humble through it all.  In a time of overblown mediocrity and shoddy greed, Nadal was a heroic salve.  And somehow, he matched Federer and surpassed him on that day--but he challenged Federer to bring out his deepest talent, his humanity even, since it's been such a clockwork of victory for Fed these past five years.  Batman challenged by the cunning of Joker.  That's what puts the ep in epic.

When I first got to Shanghai, it was the final weekend of the U.S. Open.  I thought it might tide me over, being in new environs, give a continuum to the U.S. where I'd been watching the matches closely.  I get here to find that all of the Grand Slam tournaments are broadcast (Australian, French, Wimbledon) except for the U.S. Open.  Weird call.  Maybe the New Yorkers would be a bad influence on the Chinese.

With internet connection weak and my desperate attempt to follow, I ended up staring at my computer screen, watching Wimbledon keno-style--where the scores pop up as they happen. Absurd, but it did.  I could tell from the miles/hour of the serve when the point started and then just waited til the point was won.  The ultimate of modern abstracted living.  Watching numbers flash on the screen.  So that's what the stock market ticker was/is all about.

But for all that, now the chance to see some top tennis action live, kinetic, popping, balletic, spinning, slicing, sweating, slamming, back-handed, volleyed, served.  I'm psyched to see any of the top 4 play.  It's a great time for men's tennis, this year particularly.  I teach two extra hours of English Corner a week, for the Rafa fund. Well worth it!

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