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Thailand Open Tennis 2006



The 2006 Thailand Open had it's fair share of tragedies. First of all 2 time defending champion Roger Federer was not able to play due to Davis Cup commitment. Switzerland had a world group playoff to play to keep them still in the Davis Cup World Group. They needed the World's number one badly to retain their position in next years Davis Cup World Group stage a defeat would mean instant relegation to group 2, no chance to potentially lift the trophy. Already the press had already mentioned that the attendance of the Thailand Open would fall as they lacked the flair and wizardry of World's number one player who is also the current 2006 reigning Australian, French Open Runner's up, Wimbledon and US Open Champion.

Although the organizing committee had managed to attract quality players like Ivan Ljubicic, Marat Safin, James Blake. Lyton Hewitt, Tim Henman, Macos Baghdatis, Andy Murray sadly there was no substitute for Roger Federer. Attendence would no doubt soar if Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal plays. I also missed Andy Roddick who played in 2004 but never returned to Bangkok after that. These players would definitely get the crowds coming in troves. Last year's (Review of Thailand Open 2005) and the year before last was really special with Federer around. There is a certain buzz about Roger Federer and if you get a chance to see him play live and in the flesh, you would know why he is the World's number one player. The aura of the player such as Roger Federer was intimidating. It really showed as when we approached the Impact Arena, there were not as many spectators as compared to last year. No posters or banners indicating that there was even a tournament being played there. Last year's tournament was a completely different story in terms of the crowd levels this year was a mere trickle compared to the year before.

Next casualty was Marcos Bahgdatis, the young Cypriot coming to Thailand fresh from a win in China with high hopes of winning and then eventually not even getting a chance to play his first round match. There was so much hype, a press conference and workshops that was conducted but Marcos. But he had to unfortunately withdraw due to injury before the start of the tournament. This year's early casualties before Marcos, was Lyton Hewitt who seems to have an injury jinx in Thailand (twice in a row) and Gulliermo Coria who long before the start of the tournament withdrew.

2006 Thailand Open Tennis "Star Line Up" Still wondering why Paradorn is posing with the Yonex RDS 001? He was using the Yonex Ultimum RD Ti-80 throughout the whole tournament. Maybe it will be his new racquet for 2007? Let's wait and see...

Almost didn't happen...

The tournament itself was doubtful intially due to security concerns for tourist that the coupe de tat in Thailand to oust the Thai Prime minister Taksin Shinawatra. In my opinion the press had over sensationalize the entire issue and Thailand was perfectly safe and the safety of the players or tourist will not be compromised at all. Later when i heard that most of the tanks and military personnel had the yellow ribbon an indicator that they had royal support, i was not concerned about the safety of tourist as well as the thai citizens.

The other issue was the new Savarnabhumi airport that just recently opened its doors on (date) will that affect our arrival timing, would there be any baggage delays, delays in immigration or customs etc. Last year, my luggage went missing for over 12 hours. This year my concern was getting to the semis of the Thailand Open tennis tournament on time. The new airport is closer to Pattaya which is a popular tourist destination about an hours drive away from Bangkok. It took us about an hour or so to reach the Arnoma Hotel in the city from Savarnabhumi taking into account traffic conditions and having to alight other parties at different stops along the way.

After a tantalizing semi finals draw against Tim Henman and with defeat staring him in the face. Paradorn managed to claw is way out of the deep predicament he was in to eventually defeat Tim Henman in a 3 set thriller that went down to the wire in Thailand's premier tennis sporting event, the Thailand Open 2006 in Bangkok. I would say that this was one of the most exciting matches the Thailand Open had seen over the 4 year history and one of the greatest comebacks of all time by Paradorn Srichaphan and unfortunately i was unable to see the Thai tennis star in action live in the greatest match he had ever played in front of his adoring countrymen.

I was catching the live score the night before on the ATP website. I was going to only watch the semis and the finals and was going to fly down to Bangkok the next morning. From the way the match was progressing i honestly thought that was it for the fabled Thai warrior and local tennis sensation. At (score) i was already more or less resigned to the fact that i wouldn't get a chance to see Paradorn twice in a row playing in the semis which i feel would have been a shame. Only a year before, he was supposed to face Leyton Hewitt in the quarters who was in hot form but was awarded a walk over as Hewitt retired even before the match started due to a grion injury. He was however knocked out by Andy Murray of Scotland in the semis. It win would have
set up the dream final against Roger Federer but it was not to be, as Murray disposed of him in a 3 set thriller. Paradorn had his chances but the Scottish journeyman was in inpecable form and kept his composure to beat him in the semis.

This years draw also did not favour Paradorn much he was now going to face the older and vastly more experienced Brit Tim Henman. Henman has a 5-1 head to head record against Srichapan and from the current scoreline it seems almost impossible for the Thai and Asia's number one player to claw his way back into the match let alone win it. I closed my eyes and couldn't bare to watch the live score screen constantly refreshed. I lept for joy and heaved a sigh of huge relief once i saw that Paradorn had etched his way back into the match and due to his loyal supporters and cheering him on he staged a miraculous comebacks of all time. Only the year before i thought i would never get a chance to see him play again now he is in the semis again.

Kenneth was also happy as his favourite play and idol Marat Safin had also made it to the semis after a 3 setter. So both of us were going to witness our favourite players in action. The Semi finals line was was Marat Safin against James Blake and Paradorn Srichaphan against Ivan Ljubicic.
Ticket Collection:

This year's event saw the sale for the first time of commemorative limited edition Thai postal Stamps of all the "Star" Players participating in the the Thailand Open 2006.

For the first time, the 2006 Thailand Open featured commemorative limited edition stamps of your favourite Thailand Open 2006 stars.

Each tournament ticket or pass had a player's image printed on it, unlike the previous years where all the players were featured on one single pass.


Front image of the 2006 Thailand Open Passes. The two passes here features the two Thailand Open 2006 Finalists Crotia's Ivan Ljubicic against USA's James Blake. James Blake was triumphant in this year's 2006 Thailand Open finals.

Back image of the 2006 Thailand Open Passes.

2006 Thailand Open Passes. This year passes displays featured individual "star players"

This time ticket collection took much longer than usual. Since we helped Kenneth book the ticket much later on, they somehow couldn't find his tickets as they were not in the same bundle as ours. They took like 10 minutes to try to sort the matter out. Eventually reissuing another card for us, well that really didn't matter much as we all already had our tickets now (that was what we initially thought).

We also wanted to make our selves heard this year so we wanted to try to get one of those sponsored inflatable giant clappers. Unfortunately these items were not issued as freebies. You would have to actually purchase something to be entitled to these items (100 baht worth from Yonex). We decided to buy some tennis over grips from the Yonex booth just to get this freebie. We then proceeded to get our drinks and snacks and proceeded into the arena and settled into our seats. That was when the problems with the seating started. A person who was issued the same seat as Kenneth came by and we had to talk to the ushers there to try to fix this problem. It was clear that somehow something got messed up, either in the system or seating arrangement. They however let Kenneth sit in the front for just in front of us. Apparently this year, the front row were all already pre booked even before hand and we were not allowed to purchase the front seats. I think it was an issue of the people in the front row blocking those in the second so they decided to not sell the front row seats this time round. So Kenneth was actually fortunate to be able to sit up in front.

How the Semis Progressed:

I would personally have liked to watch Paradorn play against Safin. I think it would have made a better match but this wasn't to be. Paradorn was totally outclassed and outplayed by Ivan Ljubicic. I noticed that one of Paradorn's greatest weakness is playing against big servers just like he did against Andy Roddick. He fares much better against moderate paced servers and can even give the great Roger Federer a run for his money. But simply put, against big servers Paradorn really struggles. Paradorn Lubecjic match ended pretty quick, i also felt that Paradorn might have exausted all his reserves in the the previous match against Tim Henman and was pretty tired. I was however happy to see him play twice in the row in the semis of the Thailand Open.

The Safin versus Blake match was hugely entertaining. The power and precision of the giant Russian against the quickness and atheletism of the American. James had gone through hell and back and at one time, was said to never walk again let along play tennis. So its a miracle for him to be playing great tennis again. Safin had gone through much as well with his injuries that had sidelined him from playing his best tennis. He was on the road to recovery and had been playing fairly well going into the Thailand Open semis.

From the first time, i witnessed the pinpoint precision and wicked power of the Safin double handed backhand. Once he nails it, not even the quickest player on tour can get it. Safin's serve has not been as big as it was before, but it still does its damage. Blake however was playing some phenominal tennis and from the start of the match he was frustrating Safin all over. Safin did had the upper hand at times, but in tennis you'll need to constantly capitalize on the important points that Marat did not. I expected so see some great returns from Safin but i got to see some of his temperamental antics as well as he smashed his Head Flexpoint Prestige Mid to the ground smashing the frame. I can't imagine how much force he put into that as the Head Flexpoint Prestige Mid has a very sold frame and to smash it with such ease really is mystifiying! Safin's violent bad boy antics earned his a reputation as a ladies man and was such a hit with the Thai fans especially the ladies. Despite breaking his racquet, he did manage play better after that but only for awhile as Blake established his dominance in the match and finally won it after a very tight set.

(Above Picture) Marat Safin smashes his Head Flexpoint Prestige Mid to the ground in disgust. I was lucky to have my trusty Canon 300D with my and my EF 70-200 F4L lens with me to "capture" this shot after Safin slams his racquet to the ground and catches it on the rebound! Photography is about capturing the right moment... I guess this shot depicts it all!

How the Finals Progressed:

James Blake of the USA lifts the Thailand Open 2006 trophy on his Thailand Open 2006 debut

The finals of the 2006 Thailand Open pitted the raw power of Croatian Ivan Ljubicic versus the guile of the American James Blake. It was a pretty one sided affair going to the American as Ljubicic was not serving as well compared to his previous match against Srichapan. Blake also did not let the Croatian get into this game. Blake for one, has an excellent record against big servers and his recent wins against Andy Roddick showed that. Blake's game was based on quickness and athelism. He seems to be able to nutralize one's serve and his game was pretty much rounded on the return of serve which he executes so well. He is also able to use the power and speed of his oponents shots turn them to angled winners to his advantage. He also has a beautifal flowing backhand which he plays so well while on the run. He is able to produce winners after winners with ease while on the run or at full stretch. James Blake is clearly a player to watch in the 2007 season he seems to be peaking well for the year end Tennis Masters event in Shanghai so be sure to look out for him in 2007.

Until then, see you at next years Thailand Open in 2007. I sincerely hope to be able to see Roger Federer play again as well as players such as Rafael Nadal and Andy Roddick again.

My Thailand Open 2006 Photo Gallery can be found on this link

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  • I'm Nawin from regentville
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