China Open 2005 - Sharapova and Asagoe shake hands

Yesterday I was treated to another fine surprise - free tickets to the women’s quaterfinals of the China Open. I wouldn’t ordinarily go out of my way to attend such an event, but as I was invited I took advantage of the opportunity. It turned out to be a very enjoyable day.

Tennis has yet to catch on big here in China, but those attending seemed to be into it. Our seats were quite good and we got to see some world class players duke it out. graced us with her presence long enough to tell us that she had an accident the previous evening and was sorry but she wouldn’t be able to play. Hmmm. Her sister had been knocked out in the first round by Chinese Olympic doubles champion, Sun Tiantian, much to everyone’s surprise and to the dismay of the organizers. The official site has some nice photos of the Williams sisters enjoying their stay in Beijing.

Certainly, the highlight of the day was the match between and , not necessarily for the prowess displayed by either player, though it was a pretty good match, but because it offered something that you just can’t get from the TV - live grunts. All of the players make some noise when they play and with the female players, often it sounds more than a little intimate. Sharapova was an exception in that the sounds she emiited while playing sounded more akin to a wailing banshee, almost as if she were attempting to frighten her opponent. Asagoe, for her part, sounded more like a karate expert. The accoustics of the center court amplified the sounds and the effect was quite eerie, and often amusing, at least to Salomae and me. Here’s a transription of a portion of the event:

Asagoe (serving): Aaaaaaagh!

Sharapova: WaaghuggRAHHHHHguuhhhhhh!

Asagoe: EeeYAH!

Sharapova: OoooWAAAAaaaaaUHHrrrrrrr!

Asagoe: Ugh!

Sharapova: YAAAAAaaaaaAAAAAAaaaarrrrUHHHHHHHrrrrrrrrgh!

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