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Thailand Open 2007

There was already much hype many months before this year’s Thailand Open 2007 started that got everybody really excited. This year’s Thailand Open was supposed to field the best ever players in the tournament’s 5 year history. After all, this was the 2nd year running that Roger Federer has decided not to come down to the far east. The year before still had some big names like Marat Safin, James Blake, Tim Henman, Ivan Ljubicic and of course local Thai hero Paradorn Srichaphan. Thailand Open 2007 promised to be big right from the start. Despite not being able to secure reigning world number Roger Federer, the tournament organizers managed to get many big names such as Rafael Nadal (World Number 2), Novak Djokovic (World Number 3) and Andy Roddick (World Number 4). The list goes on with many exciting players such as:

David Ferrer
Fernando Verdasco
Feliciano Lopez
Tomas Berdych
Ivo Karlovic
Frank Dancevic
Sam Querrey
Joachim Johansson
Thomas Johansson
Dmitry Tursunov
Robin Soderling
Tommy Haas
Michael Llodra
Nicolas Mahut
Benjamin Becker
Jose Acasuso
Juan Martin Del Potro
Lee Hyung Taik
Carlos Moya

I thought to myself this was going to be a really big and highly anticipated tournament with such a great lineup. Unfortunately this was not to be. Before the tournament even started, two of the biggest names Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic had pulled out citing injuries (Nadal) and Fatigue (Djokovic). Incidentally Djokovic was fined $40,000 for the late withdrawal. My favorite player and local Thai hero Paradorn Srichaphan will also not be participating this year due to a lingering wrist injury that saw his ATP ranking drop considerably. He is now languishing in the ATP’s top 200 reaching as high as world number 9 in 2003. But being one of the tournament’s guess organizers, I still managed to catch glimpses of him during some games sitting at the stands with his fiancée Natalie Glebova.

When I was there for the last day of the qualifiers, I was surprised to find many of the players that were listed on the Thailand Open website missing from the draw. I later realized that many of the players who had signed up earlier such as David Ferrer, Joachim Johansson, Thomas Johansson, Robin Sodering, Jose Acasuso and Lee Hyung Taik will not be playing as I did not see their names on the schedule of play. One by one my hopes to see a tournament filled with exciting players were shattered. It seems that there was nobody left and the Thailand Open was reduced to a tournament filled with qualifiers and lucky losers. I still thought to myself, well, I still could watch Andy Roddick the Thailand Open's only top seed to be still in the draw. I finally got to see the American during the opening ceremony of the Thailand Open 2007.

Thailand Open 2007 Pass Front View. The pass on the left with the orange strip entitles you entry into the VIP Suite.

I was already unhappy with all the pull outs and I mentioned to Kenneth that for all you know Andy Roddick might even pull out as this year’s Thailand Open. This year's Thailand Open seemed plagued by bad fortune and injuries. He told me, that’s not possible as Andy Roddick was already here in Thailand, but I remembered the same thing happened with Marcos Baghdathis last year. I did not think so much of it and just watched the remaining matches on the first day. The next day, we were eagerly anticipating Andy Roddick's big match. Roddick was the only highest profile player left in the tournament and he was supposed to play at 7pm. We decided to watch an earlier doubles match held at Court 1, and then made our way to Center Court around 6.30pm. All seemed well as we filed into Center Court. Kenneth however mentioned that he heard somebody saying that Andy Roddick will not be playing, I thought that this was impossible as he was already practicing and appeared the day before during the opening ceremony. As we walked into the arena, and saw the names on the electronic sign broad our greatest fears came true! Andy Roddick had indeed pulled out and was replaced by “lucky loser” Phillip King. Later on, the Thailand Open organizers issued a press release about tennis players absence being uncommon had something that regularly happens. So I guess this year’s Thailand Open 2007 was simply due to plain bad luck. It was nice gesture on the part of the organizers to however issue a statement that entitles this year’s fans to have a 25% discount off next year’s 2008 Thailand Open. For those of you who purchased your tickets via Thai Ticket Major. You can download the official discount form here. So remember to keep your Thailand Open Passes for next year!

Thailand Open 2007 Pass Back View. The orange pass on the left entitles you entry into the VIP Suite.

Besides ALL the high profile player’s pulling out in the last minute. I was still happy to have made this year’s Thailand Open. I personally had to nearly “pull out” from this year’s Thailand Open 2007 myself. On the eve of flying down to Bangkok to catch the Thailand Open, my left knee for no apparent reason hurt so bad that I could hardly even walk. It was buckling all the time and the pain was so intense that I couldn’t even sleep. It was only until the final hour that I decided to make this trip. Even then, I had to be on pain killers and was hobbling around for the entire week. It finally got better after around 6 days or so. I later found out that it was a case of arthritis on my left knee which was diagnosed by my doctor that had cause me my troubles. So I don’t blame some of the tennis players for their sudden withdrawal from the Thailand Open, sometime it just happens due to plain back luck.

Highlights of This year’s 2007 Thailand Open
Injuries aside, this year’s Thailand Open had been an eventful one for me as since most of the high profile players had pulled out, we personally had more access to some of the up and coming players down at the Court One.

Watching a training session:
We also managed to "sneak" into one of the training sessions which was actually not open to public. While the ushers were not looking, we simply entered the training area and got a glimpse of how professional players train during before a game. I managed to get a picture of Thailand’s new number one player Danai Udomchoke after his training session.

Me pictured with Thailand's Number One Danai Udomchoke.

Personally I found Danai to be one of the nicest guys that I have ever met being such a high profile player. He obliged by taking photos with us and even chatted with us for sometime asking where we from. We also got to see the Thai twins Sonchat and Sanchai Ratiwatana going through their paces as well as Fernando Verdasco and Vince Spadea during their pre warm up games. We saw how their respective coaches prepared them for their matches and provided crucial tips to their players. It was interesting to note that their coaches merely “advised” and were just “onlookers” who told their players what to do and discussed tactics. They never hit with their players. Their respective players would have their own hitting partners.

Photos taken with the Thailand Open 2007 winner and finalist:
Kenneth, BK, Sandra and myself managed to get a few snapshots with some of the ATP tennis players. If most of the high profile players were present, I don’t think we would have been given such an opportunity. I managed take photos with Dmitry Tursunov and Benjamin Becker who were this year’s Thailand Open champion and finalist.

Me pictured here with Thailand Open 2007 champion Russia's Dmitry Tursunov.

To much of my surprise, Dmitry Tursunov was such popular guy. He was very polite and extremely accommodating to his fans. He doesn’t strike me as the person who is sarcastic and cynical during his email responses to fans on his blog. Dmitry Tursunov's ATP Blog can be found here.

Me pictured here with Thailand Open 2007 Runner's Up Germany's Benjamin Becker.

I have heard many negative things about “star” tennis players having an attitude problem. The players I've met so far with an exception of few, were extremely polite and nice. Personally I feel that they should be nice and accommodating to their fans. It’s after all the fans who influences their popularity and endorses their products. But really, it all boils down to humility and I have seen many instances of that during this year’s “Up Close and Personal Sessions” with the players. I sincerely hope to get a chance to meet more players again next year.

More Pictures with Thailand Open Players Here.

My stay at The Asia Tennis Academy:

I had the opportunity stay at The Asia Tennis Academy and visit my good friend Tomaz Mencinger a coach at the Academy. The Asia Tennis Academy was a great location for me to stay as it was just a 10 minute walk from the Impact Arena where the Thailand Open was held.

Outside the main office of The Tennis Academy Of Asia.

Incidentally Tomaz is also an avid writer and has produced many tennis instructional videos and blogs about the mental side of tennis. Check out his sites on How to Play Better Tennis and the Mental Side of Tennis. I had picked up a lot from Tomaz during his visit here to Singapore and when I met up with him again in Thailand during this trip. If you want to get more tennis instructional tips and learn the metal art of tennis be sure to visit his sites. I also thank Tomaz for being able to arrange for some VIP passes for me to watch the Thailand Open matches from the VIP box. Thanks again my friend :)

Catching up... Tomaz and me at The Asia Tennis Academy.

The Asia Tennis Academy has all the facilities that a tennis player could dream off. The highlight there would certainly be the two very well maintained and hardly used Indoor Red Clay Courts.

I have written a separate article on The Asia Tennis Academy here.
More Photos from The Asia Tennis Academy Here.

Thailand Open VIP Seats & Meeting the Chairman of the Thailand Open Organizing Committee:

Well the seats Tomaz arranged for us were no ordinary ones! It was a pass to the VIP seats where all the tournament official were! I had a great pleasure of meeting Khun Chaiyapak Siriwat, chairman of the Thailand Open Organizing Committee. He was nice enough to later on get us seats to the finals. So this was a real highlight. Again, I never met such a nice person, despite his busy schedule he still managed to find time to chat with us and ensured that we had all the food and refreshments. Thanks Khun Chaiyapak for accommodating us Singaporeans and making us feel at home at the Thailand Open.

VIP treatment. Me inside one of the VIP rooms/Lounges. VIP seats situated outside.

There is light after Paradorn:

What really impressed me about this year’s Thailand Open would be the sheer volume of up and coming Thai players. I see two players to watch out for in the upcoming years.

Kittipong Wachiramanowong, 17. What impresses me about him most, was how he managed to take 3 games off Tomas Berdych who was the only highest ranking player left in the draw and a world top 10 player. I foresee him to be the future of Thai tennis. Peerakiat Siriluethaiwarrana, 18, is also another player to watch out for. Both these players have all the shot making abilities, speed and tenacity but only lacked the experience. I have no doubt that these guys will be the future of Thai tennis in years to come.

It was great for Thai tennis as well when Thai twins Sonchat and Sanchai Ratiwatana made history being the first Thais to capture the Thailand Open doubles crown beating seasoned double veterans Michael Llodra and Nicolas Mahut. Being both only 25, I see the Ratiwatana twins destined for greater things on the doubles circuit. I also hope that Paradorn comes back from his long layoff and gives it one final shot to try to get back to the form which took him to top 10 in the world rankings.

Rising Star from Australia (next Hewitt?):

The 2007 Thailand Open witnessed a great young Aussie player in the making Nick Lindahl an 18 year old qualifier ranked 282 who upset world number 60, Sam Querrey. I see great potential for Nick to be a fantastic player in upcoming years. More information on Australia's Nick Lindahl here.

Thailand Open 2007 in Review:

Despite not watching the world’s best tennis players in action, I experienced the Thailand Open in a different light than the last couple of years I had attended. I never had a chance to interact with the players and meet ATP tournament officials. Staying and experiencing in The Asia Tennis Academy was a very unique and endearing experience. I would personally have to say that the 2007 Thailand Open was my most eventful and privileged year for me and I hope to be able to once again attend the tournament next year in 2008.

Parting shots from the 2007 Thailand Open.

Pictures of the Thailand Open 2007 can be found Here.
Pictures with Thailand Open 2007 Players Here.
Pictures of The Thai Tennis Academy Here.

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  • I'm Nawin from regentville
  • Residing in Hougang Singapore
  • Racquets: X2 Prince EXO3 Graphite 100 (Main) X3 Wilson K Blade Tour 93 (Backup) Strings: Toalson Ultimate 115 Strung @ 48-50 pounds. Plays: Right Handed (Single Backhand). Shoes: mi Adidas Barricade V Apparel: Lacoste & Adidas Favourite Players: Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic

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