Capitals are always fun cities to live in. There are many interesting things going on there – concerts, exhibitions, sports tournaments, etc. Recently, a few tennis stars have visited Taiwan. They spent some time coaching Taiwanese children and also played exhibition matches. I could never imagine I would see these outstanding people with my own eyes:, , , and . You can only see them in some final of Grand slam tournament in which case the ticket prices are probably a thousand bucks. Here you only needed to pay $100 USD to see world top-most tennis players in action. And this is really really fantastic. I wonder how much money it really costs to invite these stars and have them play.
So lets start with reviewing Sharapova-Zvonareva game. Overall, it is pretty obvious that world #2 (Sharapova) is way stronger than world #5 (Zvonareva). Apparently, in women tennis there are a 2-3 super-stars and Sharapova is one of them, sisters Williams are probably two others, and lots of smaller stars. The latter are also quite capable players, they possess all the necessary techniques to play a very impressive game, but the super-star always has some above-human capabilities which make it possible to win any game.
In this match Sharapova surrendered only the 1st game to Zvonareva, after which she apparently woke up and won several consecutive games in a row. Sharapova possess an enormously powerful shot with two hands, whereas Zvonareva played mostly with 1 hand, as the following image shows.
This match consisted of only 2 sets, both of which Sharapova won easily. However, that took a certain amount of effort from Sharapova. If she lost her concentration for at least one second, Zvonareva responded immediately with a fierce attack resulting in a lost point for Sharapova. So her secret of success is immense power that she has. After the match the organizers presented nice gifts to both players. Even though this was just an exhibition match, the impressions was that of a real game.
In the next weekend the King of Clay, legendary Rafael Nadal visited Taiwan. Similar to previous match, he played against his co-patriot David Ferrer.
Rafael Nadal is one of the players who does not follow any traditional styles of playing the game. He invents his own. The following words can characterize the playing style of these two Spanish players: extremely powerful shots, speed, and willingness to attack. Rafael adds some unique qualities to his shots which make them very difficult to handle for the opponent. The ball is flying at very low altitude and with somewhat lower speeds, spinning like crazy all the time. The following image compares the flying altitudes of Rafael and David:
This gives Rafael plenty of time to advance to the net, and this is what he often did. In addition, he often turned his back to the net, right after hitting the ball. He can even make a shot while standing side-ways or even in the process of turning back to the opponent. Among the tennis players I know, only Roger Federer can turn around as if he is dancing on the tennis court.
David Ferrer has all the necessary qualities to play a good game – he is fast, powerful, and willing to attack. Whenever Rafael did a trick, David was able to repeat it. Looking at them I had an impression that the teacher and his best pupil are playing this game. Obviously, David is older than Rafael, but on the court it looks quite the opposite. For example, if David smashes the ball, then Rafael responds immediately with an even nicer attack.
Apparently, Rafael plays a more combinatorial game. He thinks of a plan before each game and executes it in his authoritarian manner. He dictates his opponent what to do. In a typical scenario, the opponent has to run like crazy across the court wasting his energy, until he is finally exhausted, in which case he falls to the feet of Nadal and surrenders. In practice, the opponent can make Nadal run, but that only infuriates him and his shots become double-powerful. This game consisted of three sets. I am pretty sure that Nadal could win both sets, but he surrendered one of them to Ferrer, to make this match longer. The audience was very grateful. In the end the organizers gave nice gifts to both players. Those were golden spheres! I guess they were hollow, but even this amount of gold means that their price is tens of thousands US dollars.
To summarize, this month we had two very interesting tennis matches. I only want to mention how easy it was to get the ticket. They donʼt even mess up with Internet commerce. Instead, in every food store there is a vending machine connected to the Internet. You can use it to book your ticket, then it prints a receipt which you give to cashier, then give the cash, and receive a real ticket in exchange. This system is similar to that I was using in Finland. There, they have lots of small stores called R-Kioski where you can also buy the tickets in a similar way.