Agassi has already arrived in Shanghai around 8.20pm on 7.11.2005.
The Masters Cup’s Participants' Food & Clothing Revealed: Wearing Empirical Robes Eating Meat Potluck Traveling In Mercedes
Clothing – Donning “Shanghai Tang” Empeirical Robes
At the opening ceremony of 2002 Masters Cup, the 9 players donned traditional Tang costumes which became the most significant moment back then, this costume which has a strong ‘Chinese flavour’ had the players feeling as if they hit gold as they seldom came into contact with Chinese culture. As the Chinese saying goes: Buddha relys on clothing, Man relys on gold clothing (sorry for the direct translation). 3 years later, the players will return to Shanghai, what costumes will they be donning to face the media?
According to sources, the players will still be clad in strong ethical Chinese costumes for the opening ceremony this year, but as in year 2002 the traditional Tang costume was already chosen, the possibility of choosing it again is not very big. This year it will be a revamped version of the Beijing Opera costumes, also considered an empirical robe.
The organizers revealed the clothes will be sponsored by the famous “Shanghai Tang”. This brand is already the world’s most expensive Chinese brand with its modern twist to the Chinese costumes which is its uniqueness. Currently, “Shanghai Tang” has already specially prepared 4 sets of empirical clothing, consist of a classic Chinese-style jacket, 2 pieces of Chinese-style mandarin collar slim-fitting suit and a piece of medium length leather clothing. This few sets of clothing has ‘dragon’ embroidery either on the collar or inner sleeves, thus when one folds up the collar or inner sleeves, the Chinese symbol will be clearly seen.
One set has already been confirmed as what the players will be wearing for the opening ceremony, however in order to surprise the players and also a bigger surprise to the fans world-wide, the answer will only be revealed on the actual opening ceremony. Even the tournament’s staff are kept in the dark.
As the list of players qualified for the Masters Cup are only confirmed recently, it is also impossible to wait for the list of qualifiers to be released in order to make the costumes, furthermore the designers have yet to meet the players in person, the measurements thus became a tricky issue. While ATP provided Euro and US measurements which are inaccurate, so in the end these clothing are tailor-made using the normal adult measurements. When the players arrived, they will try it on and alterations will be made accordingly.
In this year’s China Open, 3 world famous Spaniards players – Moya, Ferrero and Nadal donned on empirical robes in the Forbidden City, however “Shanghai Tang” will revamp the traditional Beijing Opera costumes to let it to have a ‘East Meets West’ effect. During the China Open, the 3 Spaniards revealed their sports attire underneath the empirical robes by a gust of strong wind. This scenario will not repeat on the Masters Cup’s opening ceremony.
Food – Meat Potluck As The Only Chinese Dish
The Masters Cup’s food at the stadium will be prepared by Hilton Hotel. Glancing through the menu list given to us by Hilton Hotel, one would feel that the players did not actually go on a food odyssey, one of the hotel’s staff said, “Because in order to adjust to the tournament’s requirements due to high burning activities, the players’ diet have to be high in protein and low in fat, thus the combination of nutritional values is much stronger than the taste.”
A few months earlier, Hilton Hotel has already begun to contact the players whom are highly possible to qualify for the Masters Cup, after gathering all the players’ preferences, and considering the needs of replenishing the nutritional values, this nutritional and delicious menu list is created.
Among them, “Italy Spaghetti category” consist of Italy spaghetti with Italian style wonton and tomato sauce, mushroom sauce or Portuguese sauce, dry Italian spaghetti and garlic bread, “Roast category” consist of roasted salmon tinged with vanilla and lemon, tandoori chicken (Indian style) with cucumber, jasmine and peppermint steamed rice. Among this, there’s also the famous Szechuan dish of meat potluck and this is also the only Chinese dish provided in the buffet. What’s surprising is that there’s only 1 choice for desserts, and that is butter cake, thus it is visible that food high in sugar and fats are not popular among the players. However, this is the basic menu list for the players’ consumption during the matches in the tournament. According to the current match schedule, the singles matches starts from 7pm; most of the players would have reached the stadium by early evening for preparations, the chances of them having their dinner at the stadium is a high possibility. If they had their lunches at the hotel or require supper after returning to the hotel, Hilton Hotel will provide more food varieties.
Lodging – Fair Treatment
Similar to year 2002, the 5-star Hilton Hotel is again the official hotel accommodation for all the players, including the 9 singles players and 9 doubles players, their families, coaches and friends will stay in “Players’ Home” specially arranged by Hilton Hotel. Maybe the players have enjoyed different accommodation privileges in the Masters Cup held in the rest of the world, however in the Shanghai Masters Cup, everyone will receive the same treatment.
A hotel staff said, “Because the hotel is unable to have similar suites, theoretically, the suites we prepared for the players are not the same, but the standard is basically the same.” From a photo of “what’s possibly could be the players’ room” provided by the hotel, overall the atmosphere is heart-warming. Especially with the huge full-height windows, the players are able to enjoy the spectacular Shanghai night scenery. In every players’ room, the hotel has also prepared towels with their names imprinted on it, this is continuing the tradition from year 2002; to let the players immediately have a feeling of “coming home”.
The players come to participate in the final Masters Cup tournament, of course they wouldn’t be traveling alone, each has their own entourage. Nadal, this big kid whom just turned 19, will be bringing along 11 relatives and friends and coach, while Davydenko will be bringing the smallest entourage which consist of 2 coaches, so the hotel also needs to provide lodging for the entourage. Accordingly, no matter how many people the players bring along, the hotel’s expenses will be fully paid by the Masters Cup committee.
Getting Around – Mercedes Benz & “Bodyguards”
The 9 singles players will each be assigned a designated Mercedes Benz at their beck and call, the drivers are responsible for transporting the players from the airport to the hotel, from the hotel to the stadium or to any destinations which the players desire to go. With regard to the doubles players, both will be assigned a designated Mercedes Benz, but this does not mean that the doubles players will be “tied up together” for traveling. A committee member said, “In principle they will travel to the stadium together, however if their destinations are different during the tournament, we will improvise by increasing the number of vehicles to satisfy their traveling needs.”
Wherever the players go, there will be burly bodyguards accompanying them, in the previous tennis tournaments held in Shanghai eg. Polo Open, the committee at many times engaged the services of “famous bodyguards” from Hong Kong and overseas to escort the star players, some star players even brought along their own “bodyguards”. However locals will be engaged for this year’s Masters Cup. It is confirmed that the Shanghai Masters Cup’s committee will not be engaging the services of foreign bodyguards, instead the services of Shanghai security company’s staff will be rendered, communication with the players will not be a problem as most them can converse in fluent English.
In reality, not every player will have bodyguards. The security’s main focus will be on the “star players” eg. Federer, Nadal, Hewitt, Roddick, Agassi, Safin etc. The doubles players will not even have bodyguards. This is good news for the fans whom wish to obtain their autographs.
Beside security personnel, this year’s Masters Cup have also specially created “Players’ Service” category for the players and their entourage. The personnel participating in this category will be spilt into 2 small groups, 1 group will be stationed at the hotel, the other at the stadium responsible for their welfare and tournament updates. Some personnel will have a designated location, eg along corridor of the players’ lounge to provide the players with tournament updates and to attend to their requests at the stadium, while some personnel will be moving around according to the players’ traveling plans. For example, the players or their girlfriends, parents and friends want to shop, visit Shanghai’s places of interest; the personnel will accompany them to shop or as a tour guide. Accordingly, these personnel will comprise of foreigners or locals with a strong grasp in English whom be temporarily employed for the tournament.
Masters Cup’s Entourage: Nadal’s The Biggest Group
Agassi Without His Beloved Wife Graf
It is also interesting to take a look at the players’ entourage. Among the 8 confirmed singles players, Nadal whom will be arriving today in Shanghai has the biggest entourage. This 19 year big kid can’t wait to “move” all his relatives and friends to Shanghai to cheer him on, this trip also provides a rare opportunity for them to travel together, to soak in this cosmopolitan city, Shanghai.
This May, Nadal’s parents were touring Shanghai when he participated in the French Open. It may be due to their good impression from Shanghai that infected Nadal to bring a big entourage of 12 including himself. Beside his parents whom are among the entourage, there’s also Uncle Toni (whom recently criticized the surface which is not suitable to Nadal’s playing style), agent, and a group of his friends.
Second on the entourage list is Federer, including himself, his girlfriend, mother, sister, coach, trainer, physiotherapist, agent and 2 friends, all should fill up a car nicely. They have different arrivals though, yesterday Federer was accompanied by his girlfriend only.
Among the players, the “loneliest” would be first-time Masters Cup qualifier, Russia’s Davydenko, according to the current committee’s news, 2 coaches will be accompanying him. While Roddick, Hewitt and Agassi’s entourage are much more "compact", inclusive of the players themselves, Roddick’s 4 person, Hewitt’s 5 person, the Australian wild rabbit kept his tradition in big tournaments by bringing his parents along. Agassi will be accompanied by only 3, his wife, Steffi Graf’s not one of them.
Nadal Played At Least 119 Matches Tough To Defeat World No. 1 On Hard Court
Nadal’s the only Masters Cup player whom defeated Federer this season, and is leading their face-offs by 2 matches to 1, his 79 matches’ victory also surpassed Federer whom’s at the top of ATP ranking. However, Nadal’s uncle and coach, Toni, recently criticized the court surface of Shanghai Masters Cup, from another point of view, it shows that Nadal’s not confident of defeating Federer on hard court.
With his strong physique, 19 year old Nadal has participated in 23 tournaments this season, his tournaments’ participation is second to Russian’s Davydenko. If inclusive his 27 doubles matches and a conservative estimate of Nadal playing in 3 matches in Shanghai, then this year he would have at least played 119 matches.
This season, Nadal and Federer have each won 8 Masters Series tournaments, both withdrew from the last Masters Series tournament in Paris, but both have practically won all this season’s Master Series, a record that is hard to break.
“ATP should take some measures, after a month of indoor tournaments in Europe, the Masters Cup finals should be held on a outdoor court with medium speed, the players will not be able to adjust to this type of fast court in Shanghai within a short time.” Toni’s speech seems to have the underlying meaning that he has no confidence in his nephew’s performance.
Actually Nadal prefers clay courts, among the 11 titles he won this year, he only has 3 hard court titles: Montreal Masters, China Open and Madrid Masters, “I think I have a lot more techniques to perfect, I need a playing style which will be suitable for all types of court surfaces.” To Nadal, there’s nothing meaningful to win the year end Masters Cup, he needs time to hone up his skills. Now, everybody’s concerned whether Nadal will defeat Federer in Shanghai: in Miami’s Nadsaq final, he was leading by 2 sets but failed to capitalize on match point and in the end Federer fought back and won; while in Roland Garros, the unstoppable Nadal defeated Federer by 3 sets to 1 before evening time in Paris. This was also the last match Federer lost in this season.