2006, NEWS ABOUT< PETE SAMPRAS. - MensTennisForums.com

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post #1 of 179 (permalink) Old 01-03-2006, 08:40 PM Thread Starter
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This is a New Year (2006) and all the news about Mr. Sampras.

My New Year was quite good and i hope for all of us here - and hope we only have good news to write about Pete and his Family this Year 2006.

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post #2 of 179 (permalink) Old 01-03-2006, 11:12 PM Thread Starter
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Wishes for 2006
(Filed: 02/01/2006)

Tennis, by Mark Hodgkinson

1. A rivalry worth speaking of in men's tennis.

Not since Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras, the loud American against the quiet one, has there been a proper battle, and it has been an element that has been badly missed. The sport so needs another pair of serial thrillers. It is to be hoped that Rafael Nadal will have the heavily-spun forehands, the power and the exuberance to trouble Roger Federer repeatedly during the 2006 season.

That is some demand on Nadal, with Federer certainly the finest player of his generation, and perhaps even the greatest to have ever swung a racket. But Nadal also has a freakish talent for hitting tennis balls. The 19-year-old Spaniard won 11 titles last season, including defeating Federer in the semi-finals of the French Open on the way to his first grand slam title, and he finished second in the world rankings. Nadal accumulated more ranking points than some past world No 1s, but never really threatened Federer. That could change this year.

Such a rivalry would offer a contrast in styles, tennis-wise and fashion-wise. Nadal is more confrontational with his tennis, while Federer employs more grace and deception. While Federer has a measured, conservative on-court persona (so very Swiss), Nadal is the Latin extrovert, with his long, rock-style hair, his three-quarter length shorts, his sleeveless tops, his sudden bursts of energy and his scissor-kick celebrations.

While Federer's brilliance undoubtedly can be enjoyed on its own, a rivalry with Nadal would add so much more to the sport. But any sustained rivalry between the two will not be bitter, acrimonious and tantrum-filled. They are far too polite, respectful and well-meaning for that.
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post #3 of 179 (permalink) Old 01-04-2006, 12:14 AM
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Hi angiel. Happy new year sweetie. (:

Q. You must have so many different emotions going through your head. Was it like a rollercoaster for you?
STANISLAS WAWRINKA: Yeah, yeah, it's quite crazy..I never expect to win a Grand Slam.
I never dream about that because for me, I was not good enough to beat those guy.

Maybe the sky will fall?
Allez Gasquet~Mathieu~Wawrinka~Mannarino~+++
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post #4 of 179 (permalink) Old 01-04-2006, 02:47 PM
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Originally Posted by angiel
Former tennis star Pete Sampras, on how he's kept busy in retirement: "I've been playing a ton of golf. And my wife is pregnant, so I've done a little bit of that."
Angiel, this is one of the news that you have posted during late december, is this a recent news? Because if its a latest tidbit then does that mean that Bridgette is pregnant again???

What frightens you?

“Nothing scares me. On second thought, I hate dentists. I fear dentists. You want to know how many cavities I have? Don’t embarrass me. Going to the dentist for me is worse than playing Fabrice Santoro.” - Marat Safin
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post #5 of 179 (permalink) Old 01-04-2006, 07:32 PM
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HAPPY NEW YEAR to every1
what is that tennis gold racket angiel?
is it pete's??

When Meeting Someone Greet them by Saying SALAM
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post #6 of 179 (permalink) Old 01-04-2006, 11:10 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by PinkFeatherBoa
Hi angiel. Happy new year sweetie. (:

Hi to you too, and how was your christmas & new year, hope you are going to stay with us here.
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post #7 of 179 (permalink) Old 01-04-2006, 11:12 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by peteslamz
Angiel, this is one of the news that you have posted during late december, is this a recent news? Because if its a latest tidbit then does that mean that Bridgette is pregnant again???

No, this is an old quote I found in December how are you.
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post #8 of 179 (permalink) Old 01-04-2006, 11:13 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by almouchie
HAPPY NEW YEAR to every1
what is that tennis gold racket angiel?
is it pete's??

I think so, i found it under his name.
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post #9 of 179 (permalink) Old 01-04-2006, 11:33 PM Thread Starter
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Colts of perseverance
Indy will rally behind coach to prove it is best team

Posted: Wednesday January 4, 2006 10:02AM; Updated: Wednesday January 4, 2006 10:02AM

The Patriots may be the defending champions and the team of the 21st century, but even as New England enters the NFL playoffs revitalized, it is another team that commands the superior interest: the Indianapolis Colts.

This was true even before Indy head coach Tony Dungy suffered the loss of his 18-year-old son -- to an apparent suicide -- a trauma that was bound to affect the whole team in some fashion.

Now, nothing annoys me more than when some tragedy intrudes upon sport and then some all-knowing, somber-sounding columnist or commentator intones that this has reminded the player or the team that games are not really important. As if anybody in any occupation operates under the delusion that any bit of business ever matters more than life or death.

But I do suspect that, given the nature of competition, tragedy may very well have a greater influence on the outcome of a sporting event than it does in most other professions, where the daily work is more level and not so concentrated. This is not to say, either, that a tragedy involving a player or someone close to the team must necessarily work adversely. In their emotions, athletes, no less than most people, are an inconsistent, unpredictable breed. Most famously, for example, recall how Pete Sampras somehow actually raised his performance, even as he literally played through tears, grieving over the news that his coach had cancer, as he came from two sets behind to beat Jim Courier at the Australian Open in 1995.

Then, too, inasmuch as Tony Dungy is held more fondly by his players than are most coaches, it is even more difficult to tell how his grief and the team's response to that will affect the Colts during the playoffs. Remember, this though: Dungy was greatly admired at Tampa Bay, too, but it was only after he departed that the Buccaneers won the Super Bowl for a coach with a very different, less endearing, personality. Should Indianapolis draw closer to the championship, Dungy will also start to have to deal with all the talk about how he might become the first African-American football coach ever to win a national championship, professional or college.

And this of history, as well: Indianapolis itself has never won a major-league sports championship. Ah, might the Hoosiers forever be cursed for stealing the beloved Colts out of Baltimore under cover of darkness?

But these current Colts are a potpourri of plot. They have already gone through the diversional duress of staying undefeated into their 14th game. Could they run the table? Then they lost a couple that didn't count and the nitpickers suggested maybe Indianapolis had invested too much in the winning streak. Can they get back on track? Plus, Colts' star quarterback Peyton Manning must do battle with the paradox that if he performs exceptionally well -- because he has to, for the team to win -- he will be criticized for, well, for performing too well himself...

Then again, the Colts have home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, which is in a dome, as they are a dome team -- and they appear to be the best, most well-rounded team in the league. Maybe all the other extraneous stuff counts for nothing.
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post #10 of 179 (permalink) Old 01-10-2006, 07:48 PM Thread Starter
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'Magician' irritates opponents

Margie McDonald
January 11, 2006

HE gets right under the skin of nearly every player he meets but please call Fabrice Santoro anything but Mr Annoying.

The Frenchman was given the nickname 'the Magician' by Pete Sampras after the 14-time grand slam champion lost to him in three sets at the Indian Wells Masters tournament nearly four years ago. His racquet repeatedly does things that defy logic.

Most on the tour would rather take their chances against Roger Federer than face Santoro's barrage of lobs and drop shots, his relentless backhand slice and shots he invents himself, like the double-handed down-the-line sliced half-volley.

Even Federer probably doesn't like facing him. Santoro took the world No.1 to two tiebreaker sets in Qatar last week before losing a second round match 7-6 7-6.

"Don't call me Mr Sneaky or Mr Annoying. I prefer magician than annoying. I think that is better for me," Santoro said after almost claiming another victim - Adelaide International winner and fellow Frenchman Florent Serra - in the first round in Sydney yesterday. He took the first set 7-5 but lost the next two 6-2 6-4.

"As long as I get the wins I don't worry about what they call me," Santoro said.

Surprisingly, the two had not met before, although there is a nine-year gap between the veteran of tricky shots, Santoro, 33, and the rising 24-year-old Serra, who was one of the big improvers on the ATP Tour last year jumping 159 spots to 50.

Watching Santoro play a match is like having a mosquito never far from your left ear.

Santoro is also a master of gauging conditions and used a blustery northerly and early afternoon sun yesterday to ensure Serra was returning lobs - once four times in the one point - while looking directly into the light. And he had to scramble to reach a drop shot which the wind held up sufficiently so it dropped just over the net on Serra's side.

Several times Serra glared back at Santoro after he had run forwards and backwards and then forwards again. All he wanted to do was stay back near the baseline and slug groundstrokes. But instead Santoro would slice, lob, rush the net, and lob again.

Serra would then let out a howl, while Santoro would smile at the crowd, never directly looking down the other end at Serra. When he hears his opponent curse and shout, he knows he is doing his job.

"They get nervous and frustrated sometimes and if they do this then, of course, that's going to help me."

To prove Santoro is not only annoying, or a magician, he hit a drop shot on the first of Serra's match points - not your conventional safe choice but a high-risk shot some might say was not just sneaky but perhaps stupid. He knows play like this divides the tennis world into two camps.

"Some people like my game, some people hate my game. But nobody has no opinion about my game," Santoro said.

"They all know me and they either like it or hate it ... and this is good."
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post #11 of 179 (permalink) Old 01-11-2006, 11:16 PM Thread Starter
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The Times

January 12, 2006

Annacone content to shepherd Henman through final stages
From Neil Harman, Tennis Correspondent, in Melbourne

WHERE Paul Annacone is, most coaches would give their right arm to be: in control of everything bar one element — his player’s results. As it was when he guided Pete Sampras to many glories and helped him to come to the realisation it was best over, so it is as Tim Henman’s career nears its final curve.

When Henman calls time, Annacone will go quietly and not to penury. Not for him the need to hang around waiting for the crumbs to fall from someone else’s far less adorned table. He will return to Los Angeles, a new wife of 18 months, two teenage children and contentment doing whatever takes his fancy.

But while Henman’s fire burns bright, so does Annacone’s. He spent two weeks before Christmas in Britain, assessing where his man is and where he is primed to go. “For me as the coach, the key elements are how I objectively evaluate where he is headed and how to get the most of what he has left,” the American said. “There is so much going on in the background that people don’t understand, be it personal or professional — much more than what happens between the lines (on court).

“Working with Tim is no different than it was with Pete — it is about getting players as close to fulfilling their potential as they can be. I want to make sure Tim squeezes as much from what time he has. At this stage of an athlete’s career, it is hard to retain a proper objectivity because in this world, people only look at what you have done lately. That’s the nature of sports fans and the media.

“After last year, I heard it, ‘Tim doesn’t have it any more.’ Much as when they said, ‘Pete can’t win, he’s married, he’s lost it, why is he still playing?’ I remember being totally convinced within a couple of weeks of Pete and I getting back together when he was 30 years old that he would win another major. I loved what I saw from him. I kept telling him, ‘If you keep doing this, you’ll win something. You’re too good.’

“Proportionately, I have to do the same with Tim. The goal is different. With Pete it was ‘did he win, did he lose?’ — that was the only way he measured himself. Tim is a tad lower but still one of the best in the world and has to put himself into positions where he might win. His is not such a results-orientated scenario. It is of a process, a strategy, a way of playing, of attacking it boldly and, hopefully, results will match the plan.

“Two years ago, he talked about playing the right way, getting the balance of his game right. He wasn’t worried about results and he did a great job, reaching the semi-finals of two grand-slams. It is easy to question, easy to second-guess, easy to plant the seeds of doubt, but ultimately, when you are happy with what you’re trying to do and still feel you have it in you, then do it. But buy fully into the process.”

Annacone has spent enough time in British company and environment to be fascinated by the progress of Andy Murray, who arrived here yesterday after his straight-sets defeat by Mario Ancic, of Croatia, in the second round of the Heineken Open in Auckland. Henman may still be the British No 1, but the column inches on Murray are growing at a frightening rate. Annacone witnessed a defining moment at close quarters in Basle two months ago, when Murray defeated his man and further altered the sport’s complexion.

Now, with early defeats in his first two events of the year, comes a healthy dose of reality. Annacone has not worked with a player of Murray’s age — Sampras was 23 when they first teamed up — but offered words of caution.

“I know Mark (Petchey, Murray’s coach) a little, we’ve chatted briefly,” Annacone said. “His role is vital. The pressure will build, there’s bound to be adversity and it is how the coach deals with the negativity. Is he calm, objective, how does he help bring his player down from the highs and build him up from the lows?

“They have to be careful because there will be a lot of barriers, just playing the whole year. As a coach, you must be able to project a sense of inevitability — that you’re confident in what you’re doing, that the guy you’re working for is going to come through and that you are secure in yourself. These are tricky things.”

And where Annacone and Petchey differ in experience, they are poles apart on the viability of a National Centre, the British version of which, planned for completion in the autumn, is castigated by Petchey as “a misguided waste”.

During his time as high performance director at the United State Tennis Association, a large plank of Annacone’s philosophy was bringing the best aspects of the sport under one roof.

“It is about a centralisation of the top talent, the best players, the best coaches,” he said. “I think it is a great idea, but it has to have the right people in the right places with a respected director and a programme that everyone believes in.”

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post #12 of 179 (permalink) Old 01-11-2006, 11:24 PM Thread Starter
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600 hours of tennis on TSN in 2006

TSN.ca Staff

1/10/2006 9:35:48 PM

TORONTO - TSN announced its extensive 2006 tennis broadcast schedule, which includes the biggest events of the year - the four grand slam tournaments, women's Rogers Cup in Montreal, men's Rogers Cup in Toronto, and the other nine Masters Series tournaments including the season finale Masters Cup from Shanghai.

A new season of tennis on TSN begins this Sunday with 97 hours of the Australian Open from January 15 to 29. Complete coverage of the first Grand Slam event of the season includes men's and women's early round matches, Round of 16, quarter-finals, semifinals and finals, as well as the women's doubles final.

TSN enjoyed an outstanding season of tennis in 2005, with an average audience of 81,000 viewers*, up 11 per cent from 2004. The four grand slam events - Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open - also saw a significant increase in viewership, with an average audience of 99,000 viewers, up 22 per cent from 2004.

TSN's 2006 tennis broadcast schedule is as follows:
· Australian Open - January 15-29
· ATP Tennis Masters Series: Pacific Life Open - March 13-19
· ATP Tennis Masters Series: NASDAQ-100 Open - March 27-April 2
· ATP Tennis Masters Series: Monte-Carlo - April 17-23
· ATP Tennis Masters Series: Rome - May 8-14
· ATP Tennis Masters Series: Hamburg - May 15-21
· French Open - May 29-June 11
· Wimbledon - June 26-July 7
· Rogers Cup (men's - Toronto) - August 7-11
· Rogers Cup (women's - Montreal) - August 14-18
· ATP Tennis Masters Series: Cincinnati - August 14-20
· U.S. Open - August 28-September 10
· ATP Tennis Masters Series: Madrid - October 16-22
· ATP Tennis Masters Series: Paris - October 30-November 5
· ATP Tennis Masters Series: Masters Cup: Shanghai - November 12-19

During the Australian Open, ESPN Classic salutes the greats of the tennis world with some vintage matches from Down Under. Featured stars include four-time champion Andre Agassi, two-time title-holder Pete Sampras, four-time winner Monica Seles, and three-time champion Martina Hingis, who will continue her comeback at this year's Australian Open (Check local listings for dates and times.) Classic Tennis on ESPN Classic can be seen every Sunday from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. ET.

TSN's complete coverage of the 2006 Australian Open is as follows:
· Early Round Coverage Day 1 - Sunday, Jan. 15 at 12 midnight ET and Monday, Jan. 16 at 2 p.m. ET
· Early Round Coverage Day 2 - Tuesday, Jan. 17 at 3:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. ET
· Early Round Coverage Day 3 - Tuesday, Jan. 17 at 11 p.m. ET and Wednesday, Jan. 18 at 12:30 p.m. ET
· Early Round Coverage Day 4 - Wednesday, Jan. 18 at 10:30 p.m. (Encore Jan. 19 at 12:30 p.m. ET)
· Early Round Coverage Day 5 - Thursday, Jan. 19 at 11 p.m. ET (Encore Jan. 20 at 12:30 p.m. ET)
· Early Round Coverage Day 6 - Friday, Jan. 20 at 10 p.m. ET and Saturday, Jan. 21 at 12 noon ET
· Early Round Coverage Day 7 - Saturday, Jan. 21 at 10 p.m. ET and Sunday, Jan. 22 at 3 p.m. ET
· Round of 16 - Sunday, Jan. 22 at 7 p.m. ET and Monday, Jan. 23 at 2 p.m. ET
· Men's and Women's Quarter-finals - Tuesday, Jan. 24 at 3:30 a.m., 2 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. ET and Wednesday, Jan. 25 at 2 p.m. ET
· Women's Semifinals - Thursday, Jan. 26 at 12:30 a.m. ET (Encore at 7:30 p.m. ET)
· Men's Semifinal #1 - Thursday, Jan. 26 at 3:30 a.m. ET (Encore at 12:30 p.m. ET and Jan. 27 at 7:30 p.m. ET)
· Women's Doubles Final - Thursday, Jan. 26 at 11:30 p.m. ET
· Men's Semifinal #2 - Friday, Jan. 27 at 3:30 a.m. ET (Encore at 12:30 p.m. ET)
· Women's Final - Friday, Jan. 27 at 9:30 p.m. ET (Encore Jan. 28 at 2 p.m. ET)
· Men's Final - Sunday, Jan. 29 at 3:30 a.m. ET (Encore at 2 p.m. ET
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post #13 of 179 (permalink) Old 01-11-2006, 11:29 PM Thread Starter
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SPiN's Hottest Significant Other Tournament

Special to CBS SportsLine.com

You knew this was coming.

So many athletes date celebrities (or Playmates, or fellow athletes) that the time has finally arrived: SPiN is going to let you, the reader, determine which professional athlete has the hottest significant other.

And before you pepper us with questions as to whether or not golf (or surfing, or hockey) is a professional sport, save the e-mail. Retired athletes count, too!

We commissioned a crack team -- or maybe it was a team on crack -- of experienced eyes to determine the seeding of each athlete's girlfriend/fiancée/wife. We'll play this out March Madness-style, based on your votes. Each Wednesday we'll break it down, round-by-round, until you've determined a winner.

* No, Jake Plummer's "girlfriend" is not a celebrity. Or a Playmate. Or an athlete. But their story generated so many headlines that we had to include him. She's quite a sleeper, huh?

** Derek Jeter, as always, was just an educated guess. We found out about his latest supposed lady friend here. And does a discussion such as this one exist without Jeter?

** We tried really, really hard to make all the links tasteful, considering some of the talent on hand. We cannot be responsible for your Googling -- and oogling. Enjoy!

1. Rony Seikaly (Syracuse basketball star who also had a solid NBA career, mostly with the Miami Heat) and Elsa Benitez (model).

2. Jeff Garcia (balding quarterback who was called "gay" by former teammate Terrell Owens) and Carmella DeCesare (Playboy Playmate).

3. Petr Nedved (Phoenix Coyotes center) and Veronica Varekova (model).

4. Tiger Woods (on par to be the greatest golfer in the history of the sport. Lame pun, we know) and Elin Nordegren (model).

5. A.J. Feeley (career-long backup NFL quarterback) and Heather Mitts (USA soccer star/sideline reporter).

6. Sean Avery (Los Angeles Kings center) and Elisha Cuthbert (actress).

7. Kelly Slater (surfer) and Gisele Bundchen (model).

8. Adam Archuleta (hard-hitting St. Louis Rams safety) and Jennifer Walcott (Playboy Playmate).

9. Tony Parker (point guard for the defending NBA champion San Antonio Spurs) and Eva Longoria (actress).

10. Casey Daigle (mostly minor-league baseball pitcher in the Arizona Diamondbacks organization) and Jennie Finch (softball pitcher).

11. David Pelletier (one lucky figure skater) and Jamie Sale (figure skater).

12. Dario Franchitti (race car driver) and Ashley Judd (actress).

13. Tom Brady (two-time Super Bowl MVP quarterback of the New England Patriots) and Bridget Moynahan (actress).

14. Kris Benson (New York Mets pitcher) and Anna Benson (former stripper).

15. Tim Couch (Former No. 1 NFL draft pick, no longer in the league) and Heather Kozar (Playboy Playmate).

16. Derek Jeter (ladykilling New York Yankees shortstop with too many World Series rings to count) and Cassia Riley (Penthouse Pet).

17. Jake Plummer (Denver Broncos quarterback) and Kollette Klassen (Denver Broncos cheerleader).

18. Pete Sampras (one of the greatest male tennis players, ever) and Bridgette Wilson (actress).

19. Scott Erickson (soon-to-be retired MLB pitcher) and Lisa Guerrero (sportscaster).

20. Cale Hulse (Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman) and Gina Lee Nolin (actress).

21. Mike Piazza (sure-fire MLB Hall of Fame catcher) and Alicia Rickter (Playboy Playmate).

22. Quentin Richardson (lethal three-point shooting guard for the New York Knicks) and Brandy (actress/singer).

23. Memhet Okur (underrated forward for the Utah Jazz) and Yeliz Caliskan (Miss Turkey).

24. David Beckham (iconic English soccer player who has cheated on his wife with a nanny and lived to tell about it) and Victoria Beckham (singer/actress).

25. Rodney Peete (former standout quarterback at USC who had a mediocre NFL career) and Holly Robinson Peete (actress).

26. Tim Hasselbeck (NFL backup quarterback) and Elisabeth Hasselbeck (TV host).

27. Carmelo Anthony (superstar forward for the Denver Nuggets) and LaLa Vazquez (MTV veejay).

28. Alexei Yashin (New York Islanders center) and Carol Alt (model/actress).

29. Matt Treanor (Florida Marlins backup catcher) and Misty May (volleyball player).

30. David Eckstein (St. Louis Cardinals shortstop) and Ashley Drane (actress).

31. Nomar Garciaparra (oft-injured shortstop who made his name with the Boston Red Sox, but recently signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers) and Mia Hamm (iconic women's soccer player).

32. Andre Agassi (one of the greatest male tennis players in the history of the sport) and Steffi Graf (former women's tennis player).
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post #14 of 179 (permalink) Old 01-14-2006, 06:49 PM Thread Starter
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Serena out to kick butt

THE butt of criticism this week, Serena Williams dispelled doubts yesterday over her fitness and endorsed her chances of defending her Australian Open crown.

The 13th seed said she was "absolutely" spot on despite being surprised by the size of her "hamstring muscle" in newspaper pictures this week.
"If I didn't like my chances of winning, I wouldn't be here," Williams said.

"It would be better for me to be on the beach, St Barts, jet skis. It would be much easier.

"I've had more time to prepare this year because I just took off since October. I've had more time to prepare mentally and much more physically.

"Honestly, I've never read any comments about my fitness. I don't read the papers. I saw (a picture) of me running. And I was like, 'wow, my hamstring muscle is that big?' I had no idea my muscle was like that. But that's about it."

Williams has suffered from a combination of ankle and knee injuries, and has not played a tournament since losing her opening match at the Beijing Open in September.

Keen to jump back up the rankings, she has welcomed the challenge of proving critics wrong.

"I like that," she said.

"It would be like, 'oh, she's not fit'. That's cool with me. Like I said, that's fine because then people will be like, 'OK, well, she won't be able to run'. That's a great position to be in."

Williams, 24, said she learned several valuable lessons while on the sidelines, particularly her game was too defensive last year.

She has worked on the technical side of her game with her Dad and coach Richard, in the hope of it leading to an eighth grand slam title.

"I've always criticised Pete Sampras for saying he wanted to win lots and lots of grand slams," she said.

"It was like, 'don't you want to be the best?' I definitely want to be No.1 in the world. I can kind of understand what he's saying because there's nothing like winning a grand slam. Both the goals are definitely what I want to do, but it all starts with winning the slams first."

Williams faces a tricky first-up match against China's Na Li, ranked just outside the top 50, but she struggled to remember if she had played her previously.

"I've always said, everyone talks about the Russians and I always thought the Chinese have a great (lot) of players coming up," she said.

"I think there's many Chinese players right now. Not only are they in the draw, but they're actually doing well.

"I'm going to have to really be ready for the match, definitely not underestimating my opponent at all."

Older sister Venus also has an unpredictable first match against Bulgarian Tzvetana Pironkova, 18, who is playing in her first grand slam.

The rankings have Venus listed at No.10 in the world, but she believes she is the best player in the world.

"I'd like to say I finished one, but there's a zero behind it," Venus said.

"In my head, I'm always a champ. Right now I'm going to work on my ranking and not say what number I am. You guys all know what number I feel like I am."

Well prepared and looking fit, Williams is clearly focused on winning in Melbourne. Her aim is to claim all the grand slam titles that have eluded her -- the Australian and French Opens and the Wimbledon and US Open mixed doubles titles.

"In my career, I'm missing like four titles, so to hold all the slams, in each event possible, is my goal," she said.

"Obviously, I have to win the singles here to kind of get it down to three titles. I think it's important not to be over-confident.

"I think that can be a big flaw, a big downfall. I'm just looking to show up healthy and get my game on."
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post #15 of 179 (permalink) Old 01-14-2006, 06:57 PM Thread Starter
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Oases Springing Up Here for Ancient Game of Go

Published: January 14, 2006

In September, a weekend carnival in Edison, N.J., celebrated the Mid-Autumn Festival, a major Chinese holiday. Thousands of visitors swarmed past hawkers of pork buns and Kettle Korn, acupuncture and health insurance. In the booth of the Feng Yun Go School, a small crowd gathered around a woman in a sleeveless salmon-colored dress as she juggled 11 simultaneous games of go, the ancient Asian board game played on a grid. Oblivious to the fireworks exploding above, she drifted silently along an L-shaped table, pausing occasionally to place a single white stone on a wooden board.

For Feng Yun, who spent 18 years on China's national go team, the two-hour exhibition did not pose much of a challenge. Facing financial analysts and schoolgirls, she won nine matches, losing the other two only after offering substantial handicaps. Nor will Ms. Feng, 39, meet anyone of her caliber at the Hotel Pennsylvania this weekend during the Toyota/Denso North American Oza, a two-day tournament that begins today in New York and in Las Vegas.

"I expect I will win," she said in a tone less cocky than matter-of-fact. Ms. Feng turned professional at 13 and, competing mostly against men, became the second woman ever to reach 9-dan - the ninth degree, go's highest ranking. Organizers of the Oza ("throne" in Japanese) expect more than 250 competitors in New York, but only one other professional, and a 1-dan at that. For Ms. Feng, the toughest part of playing go these days may be finding a worthy opponent. America, she explained, is "the desert of this game."

There are oases: players meet at the New York Go Center in Midtown, at a Korean café in Fort Lee, N.J., a floating house game in Brooklyn. It also has a cult following in math departments (it made cameo appearances in the films "Pi" and "A Beautiful Mind") and among computer scientists interested in artificial intelligence. Go has simpler rules than chess but is so complex that no one has devised a computer program that can defeat a talented amateur, let alone Ms. Feng. Computers have, however, helped to overcome problems of geographical isolation, and players compete on go servers online.

Go has a much higher profile in East Asia. In China, weiqi, "the surrounding game," was historically considered one of the four arts that a cultured gentleman should master. It was condemned as bourgeois during the Cultural Revolution, but today there are roughly 30 million Chinese players and two television channels devoted to the game; Ms. Feng used to moonlight as a television commentator. Millions more play in Japan, the source of the game's name and much of its terminology, and in South Korea, now home of the world's top player, Lee Changho. These three countries are fierce rivals on a professional circuit sponsored by banks and newspapers.

Ms. Feng did not arrive in the States with grand illusions of further go glory. In 2000, having reached the top of her game, she put aside her routine of study and competition for the life of an immigrant housewife when her husband found a computer programming job in New Jersey. A year later, she was pregnant with their second child when he was found to have leukemia. "He wasn't able to return to work, so I decided to start a go school to support the family," she said. (Her husband recovered.)

Roy Laird, a former president of the American Go Association, said her arrival is as "if Pete Sampras moved to Bangladesh and started teaching tennis." But it is also akin to taking in a scholar in exile or having a missionary come to an indifferent land. "Typically, professionals teach advanced players, but there aren't enough advanced players to support them," said James Kerwin of Minneapolis, who has played go professionally in Japan. As for beginners, he said: "In Japan, Korea, China, most people learn without ever being taught. They pick it up. They see their friends play, they see their parents play."

Between private lessons, mostly taught online, and weekly classes scattered around New Jersey and in Flushing, Queens, Ms. Feng has managed to recruit more than 100 students. A few sought her out after becoming fans of "Hikaru no Go," a Japanese comic book about a young ruffian possessed by the spirit of an ancient go master. But most are Asian-American children whose parents esteem the game of go, even if they do not play it.

"You can win by not being overly aggressive," said Bonnie Liao, whose 10-year-old son, Lionel Zhang, has studied with Ms. Feng for four years. "You do not learn that from the typical Western culture."

Lionel is one of several dozen of Ms. Feng's students planning to enter the Oza's lower divisions. As for their teacher, who won the biennial tournament in 2002 and 2004, a threepeat is the likeliest outcome.

East and West Coast winners will take home $2,500 and qualify for the World Oza, which begins in Tokyo in August and offers a first prize of 30 million yen, or roughly $263,000, and a Lexus. A victory in Tokyo against world-class professionals who keep in tournament shape is much less probable. "In China, we study a lot, prepare openings, strategies," she said. "But here, I don't really have a chance to practice, and because I teach so much, that really hurts my strength."
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