Thanks Peggy for posting this GREAT article :yeah: :hug:
And I absolutely agree with what you said, Chris :yeah:
And I absolutely agree with what you said, Chris :yeah:
South Africa: Swedish Stars Flying in for SA Open Shaken Up By Freak Storm
A slow news day at Selborne Park livened up dramatically when a freak storm tore into the tennis centre just after lunch yesterday.
The SAA South African Open tennis championship was almost literally uprooted as torrential rain, driven by gale force winds, slammed into the tennis centre almost without warning, flooding the players' lounge and the media centre.
Water poured through electrical fittings supplying power to computers, printers and other equipment.
Marquees put up for entertainment purposes were blown down, and branding and banners were torn to pieces. Debris was left on the courts. Passengers in an aircraft bringing third and fourth seeded Swedes Thomas Johansson and Jonas Bjorkman to East London were trapped in the plane after landing, while the storm raged.
East London locals, appointed to a tournament task force to deal with exactly this kind of emergency, worked furiously to remove water lying centimetres deep in several of the carpeted work and reception rooms.
The arrival of Bjorkman and Johansson at the courts was further delayed by a traffic jam between the airport and the city centre.
"We occasionally have storms and lightning, but never like this," said one of the tournament officials. "Normally it is just steady rain, typical of the coast. This was very unusual."
The storm gave Bjorkman and Johansson the kind of welcome they would have liked least, but neither was too shaken up on arrival at the courts for their campaign in the SAA South African Open tennis championships, which started yesterday.
Bjorkman laughed as he remembered the pilot saying "we could have ended up in Port Elizabeth, folks," but Johansson was not quite as amused.
"As we were landing it was quite light but as the storm broke, it went completely black," he said. "I have never experienced that before."
Bjorkman and Johansson were the heroes of the Davis Cup tie against Israel at the weekend, Bjorkman winning the final reverse singles to give his country a 3-2 win and Johansson winning both his singles.
The intensity of the weekend left a strong impression on both.
"The spectators really try to get into your head but we were very proud of the way we managed to stay focused," Bjorkman said.
"I think the experience will help us. Our confidence is high, our games are sharp and we are feeling quite good," he said.
Johansson was very enthusiastic about the quality of the field playing in East London.
"Considering the size of the event (a 90-point R875000 ATP Challenger) they have an excellent field here," he said.
"You have five players in the top 100, one of them (Ivan Ljubicic) in the top 10. Stefan Koubek is ranked 55. I think it is going to be a wonderful tournament," he said.
Bugger.The only damage of any significance done to the SAA South African Open tennis championship field yesterday was by unheralded 24-year-old Frenchman Augustin Gensse.
He beat fourth-seeded Swede Jonas Bjorkman -- 11 years his senior -- 6-3 7-5 on centre court at Selborne Park on a hot, blustery day.
In a match that lasted only one hour and 45 minutes, Gensse sailed through the first set against his experienced opponent, who struggled to get going. Bjorkman, despite losing, was happy to spend time talking about the match.
"I'm afraid my body did not feel good today," he said.
"My legs felt very heavy and that led to my timing being out. It is possible that our strenuous Davis Cup weekend had something to do with it.
"At this stage of my life, the body does not recover as quickly as it used to," he said.
No such troubles for Gensse, however. His main problems were with nerves and a lack of experience.
"This is my biggest win so far, and at 4-1 in the second set I started feeling very nervous. As we crossed over I told my coach I was feeling very tight and he said I should just try to focus," Gensse said. [coaching! lol]
Gensse's nerves almost got the better of him as Bjorkman fought back from 1-4 down to 5-5 in the second set. But the young Frenchman summoned up a huge effort to serve a flawless 10th game and draw ahead 6-5. Then it was the older, more experienced Bjorkman's turn to feel the pressure and he succumbed, serving three double-faults in the last game to give Gensse the set 7-5. [:tape:]
Gensse, ranked 249 in the world, said when it came down to the final few games, he was keeping his nerve by trying to recall how he won the first set.
"At that time it was quite easy because the pressure was not there. So I just tried to visualise that."
Update from Memphis
I won the first match against Paul Capdeville from Chile 6-3, 6-1. I played really well and it feels like I'm on my way back in form. It will be interesting to see what I can do as this week progresses. In doubles we unfortunately lost yesterday against the Ratiwatana twins from Thailand 6-3, 6-7, 9-11. We were in the lead the entire match and had a match point but unfortunately we didn't have any luck on our side. We played solid in our serve games but didn't win the right points in the tiebreak or in the super tiebreak. We felt we were in good form so it was a disappointing loss, but we hope we can improve our game until next week when we play in Las Vegas.
South Africa - a tournament with mixed results
It was great to come back and play in South Africa again. The results were mixed for me in the tournament. A disappiontment in singles but a great start with a win in doubles with Kevin Ullyett. It was a fun week and I got to see my former coach Gary Muller again and we could work a little to improve my game. The tournament was extremely well organized and we hope that they will get an ATP-tournament next year as they wish.
Win over Israel in Davis Cup
After the decisive match between me and Harel Levy from Israel, we managed to win and are now qualified for the second round in Davis Cup where we will face an away match against Argentina. Thomas Johansson played really well and was the big team anchor with two single wins. Simon Aspelin and Robert Lindstedt fought bravely in the double match. It feels very good to have won this first round of Davis Cup and great to have gotten a good start of 2008!
Nice comment from Steve Darcis:Glad he stayed
Bolstered by his run to the RMKC semifinals -- following strong performances in several Grand Slam events the past two years -- Bjorkman is glad he didn't retire a few years ago when he first broached the subject.
'I've said two or three more years for quite some time,' Bjorkman said. 'Then I started to change and say I'd take it one year at a time. I'm pretty happy that I said that because, otherwise, I wouldn't have achieved my semifinal at Wimbledon (in 2006) and my fourth round at the French Open last year.
'It seems like this year would be good and nice to finish off with. The body is not holding up as good any more.'