shanghai china

Federer and Hewitt Rewind

Roger Federer and Lleyton Hewitt will meet in an epic third round match up at the 2009 US Open in a battle of former champions. Rene Stauffer, the author of book THE ROGER FEDERER STORY: QUEST FOR PERFECTION ($24.95, New Chapter Press, describes a memorable match-up between the two future Hall of Famers from the 2002 Tennis Masters Cup in Shanghai, China. The excerpt is below.

In the semifinals, Federer faced Hewitt, who already clinched the year-end No. 1 ranking for a second year in a row. The Australian barely qualified for the semifinals and benefited from Carlos Moya winning a three-hour mean­ingless match over fellow Spaniard Costa, where a Costa victory would have him reach the semifinals rather than Hewitt. Although Federer lost five of the last seven matches with Hewitt, he reasoned his chances of beating him and winning the first big championship of his career were very attainable.

Federer started his semifinal with Hewitt in furious fashion, taking a 3-0 and a 5-2 first-set lead, but Hewitt ran and fought as if his life were at stake. Hewitt fought off five set points and rallied for a 6-5 lead. Serving for the set, Hewitt staved off another five break points, before capturing the first set 7-5. Federer, however, was not ready to surrender. The second set turned into a wild back-and-forth struggle. Hewitt served for the match at 5-4 and held match point, but Federer broke back for 5-5. After holding serve for 6-5, Federer evened the match by breaking Hewitt’s serve, connecting on his fourth set point of the game.

The Chinese fans went wild—out of their seats, screaming and cheering. In the commentary booth high above the stadium, Heinz Günthardt and Stefan Bürer, the Swiss TV commentary team, described the tension and fast-paced action to the audience back in Switzerland, where it was Saturday morning and many people postponed their weekend shopping to watch the dramatic match with their new sports hero.

As the match extended into a third hour, the breaks seemed to fall in favor of Federer. Leading 4-3 in the final set, Federer held two break points to put him in the position to serve for the match. Both opportunities, however, were lost and Hewitt held for 4-4. Hewitt then subsequently broke Federer’s serve the next game to serve for the match at 5-4. The Australian reached his second match point—and shockingly double-faulted. Federer then broke Hewitt’s serve to square the match at 5-5. Serving with new balls in the next game, Federer committed two consecutive double-faults to allow Hewitt to break him back and gained another opportunity to serve for the match. It took Hewitt another four match points before he finally corralled Federer and advanced to the final with an epic 7-5, 5-7, 7-5 victory. Following the match, Hall of Fame journalist Bud Collins walked into the press room and asked his fellow scribes, “Have you ever seen a better match?”

In the craziest match of his career to date, Federer was aware that he let victory escape from his grasp. “I have no one to blame but myself,” he said to a small group of Swiss journalists who traveled to China. “Luck wasn’t on my side. I blew a big opportunity. That hurts.” A vacation in Phuket, Thailand helped heal the wounds.

Mark Weil Announces Opening of Junior Tennis Camps in Shanghai, China

Looking to introduce the game of tennis to youngsters thousands of miles away, Mark Weil has announced plans to conduct eight week-long training sessions in Shanghai, China, this summer.

The Shanghai Weil Summer Tennis Camps will run from June 28 to Aug. 21, 2009, and are being limited to just 32 players for each of the one-week sessions. The academy will take place at the Shanghai Xuhui Natatorium in the XuHui District. The Xuhui Natatorium has four championship indoor tennis courts, two indoor swimming pools, full sized fitness gym, four badminton courts and a full dining restaurant.

“I’ve always been excited by the idea of tennis becoming a popular sport in China,” said Weil, who in March was in Shanghai to give three free clinics to 65 youngsters. “I’ve trained players from Hong Kong and Taiwan before and the passion that the Chinese have for tennis is unlike any passion I’ve ever seen from any other country in the world. They just love it.”

He added: “I think up until now the opportunities to become a better tennis player in China has only been reserved for the top, top, top players. One of my goals is to create a whole new generation of Chinese tennis players who have never really discovered how exciting the game of tennis really is. The goal is to create excitement within the Chinese community and to make them aware that tennis can open up many high educational opportunities for the Chinese in America.”

Weil noted that while badminton and table tennis are hugely popular in China, tennis ranks below basketball in popularity.

The Weil Academy located in Ojai, Calif., is the only full-time boarding tennis academy on the West Coast. The program has produced countless numbers of junior and professional champions as well as placed over 250 international high school players in prestigious American Universities like Stanford, UCLA, USC, UC Berkeley, Cornell and Brown, to name a few.

Weil said that world No. 7-ranked WTA player and Indian Wells, Calif., BNP Paribas Open champion Vera Zvonareva spent time at the academy during the spring training.

The Chinese youth will benefit from a 6 to 1 player-to-coach ratio. Some other highlights of the program include:

  • Over 30 hours of tennis training and fitness
  • Access to Weil’s international coaching staff
  • Tactical and technical tennis drills
  • Focused match play (singles and doubles)
  • High Performance fitness program
  • Eight hours of English language instruction
  • Adidas and Wilson Prizes

The following are the one-week camp-session dates. Week 1: June 28 – July 3; Week 2: July 5-10; Week 3: July 12-17; Week 4: July 19-24; Week 5: July 26-31; Week 6: Aug. 2-7; Week 7: Aug. 9-14; Week 8: Aug. 16-21.

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