Date registered: April 16, 2009
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Thanks for writing back, was re-reading my post yesterday and hoping that it wasn't too OTT, so am pleased that you've taken my comments in the spirit they were intended.
Yeah, you're probably right about Mac and Borg not playing at full tilt. I think I was just so excited at actually seeing them in play in the flesh (as it were) that the standard of tennis kind of passed me by a little!! Both of them had played pretty tough matches the previous two days and McEnroe said afterwards that he was struggling to walk after his game against Ivanisevic, but they're big boys so I'm not going to make excuses for them!
I agree the intensity wasn't quite there, but I've been to Shanghai and Beijing Opens where big names have mysteriously bowed out in the first round and taken their big fat cheque straight to the airport, so it's not an isolated incident confined to the Masters tour (don't get me wrong, I'm not condoning this type of behaviour at all, but I can see why it happens). I don't think it helps that there isn't any prize money at stake on the Masters Tour (from what I can gather it's all appearance-based).
I don't think it was unreasonable for you to expect a lot considering the build-up, the big names involved and the price of tickets, and to be honest there were plenty of things that annoyed me about the organisation of the tournament too. The lack of a shuttle bus really ticked me off. Apparently the powers that be refused to put one on because "tennis is a middle class sport, the common people are not interested." They may be right, but if that attitude continues I can't see tennis taking off here any time soon.
Saying all that, I still think there were enough positives to keep going with the event (as I outlined in my previous post), and hopefully this will help establish the venue's standing in the tennis world and attract a few more high-profile events on the main tour.
Thanks again for replying, I guess we'll have to agree to disagree but opinions are what makes sport so interesting so I've no problem with that. Keep up the good work!
Thanks for the article, well-written as always. I'll preface my comments by saying that of course everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but I'd just like to add mine if I may.
Firstly, the masters tennis isn't about top level sport - the two players in your piece have a combined age of 103 - but until the Chengdu Sport Bureau invent that time machine or figure out a way to kidnap Federer and Nadal, classic sporting rivalries will be a little thin on the ground in Sichuan. As a sports fan who grew up on Wimbledon it was a real treat to see McEnroe-Borg live, even if it was a pale imitation of the real thing.
Secondly, interesting rumour about Mac and the ball boy, but did that come from the same reliable insider who was assuring everyone that Pat Cash and John McEnroe were DEFINITELY on route to the Shamrock on Saturday evening?
Finally, I agree that crowds were thin on the ground, and those that were in there seemed more interested in the hospitality and Pat Cash's headbands. However, to be honest China (especially western China) just doesn't have the same ticket-buying culture yet. It was also the first year of the event, and I'm sure the first Olympic games weren't anything to write home about (unless you enjoy well-toned naked Greek men running about the place posing. What? Oh). The venue was in the middle of nowhere, there were no shuttle buses and the ticket prices were pretty high, all of which didn't really help, but the stadium and the facilities are top-drawer, so there are positives that can be built upon for the next few years to hopefully make the event into something special.
Thanks for posting and I'll look forward to your next food article