Sun Tiantian's Sydney Blog
Published January 15, 2009 12:00
SYDNEY, Australia - Our first blog of the new year comes to us from China's Sun Tiantian in Sydney, as she competes and makes her Australian Open preparations at the Medibank International. It is also the first Chinese-English crossover blog.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
I left Sydney for Melbourne with my coach today. The livestock industry in Melbourne is well developed and it impresses me that there are so many flies here. But since it is so hot, the flies get tired here and do not feel like flying much! The Australian Open is very prestigious and attracts many famous stars. Since it is located in Asian-Pacific areas, there are many Asian players who come to play. Also, the courts at the Australian Open and US Open are more spacious than those at Wimbledon and Roland Garros. Maybe this is because Australia and the US have more space than European countries! Our hotel is pretty close to Chinatown and we can find many kinds of delicious Chinese food nearby. I am looking forward to that!
My first match at the Australian Open was in 2004. I played with Li Ting and we were wildcards. I still remember how excited we were! It is a pity we lost first round, but the experience of playing in a Grand Slam was valuable and helped us a lot in gaining the Olympic gold medal that year.
Compared with the other three Grand Slams, I have special feelings toward the Australian Open. My first wildcard, first Grand Slam, first Grand Slam quarterfinal and first mixed doubles title - all of these happened in Australia.
In recent years, China has witnessed fast development in tennis. Chinese women players have made many breakthroughs. I wish these breakthroughs can help Chinese tennis players be more confident and ambitious in world tennis. Then there would be more Chinese girls becoming top tennis players.
Have a good day and talk to you soon!
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Preparing for the Australian Open!
On the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour, there's a 'heat rule' that outlines the procedures to follow when the temperature gets too high. Wet Bulb Globe Temperature (WBGT) is used to collect temperature information in this case; if a tournament doesn't have the right equipment then stats of temperature and humidity are used together to get accurate temperature figures. If it gets above 41.1 Celsius, players are allowed to have a 10-minute rest between the first and second sets.
It's very hot in Sydney today so at about 3pm the tournament launched the heat rule, giving players rest during the match. As for me, my practice time today is from 2pm to 4pm. It's probably the hottest time of day!
I've been working on the weaknesses revealed in my two tournaments the last two weeks, so I'll be better prepared for the Australian Open. I've been training my speed, defensive game and net game. My coach, Zhang, who has been with me for many years and was also with me this afternoon, gave me valuable guidance and helped me do well today, despite the high temperatures!
I'll be playing doubles in Melbourne. My partner, who is from Chinese Taipei, plays well from both the net and the baseline; she got to the doubles final there in 2007 and last year got as high as Top 5 in the world in doubles. I'm happy!
Talk to you tomorrow!
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Since I have no match today, I went to the court to do some stretches. During the off-season, my favorite activity is to stay at home with my family. I may also surf the internet, watch some DVDs or go to the cinema. The last movie I watched with friends was 007 Quantum of Solace.
A website reporter interviewed me today and asked me some interesting questions. I would like to share them with you here.
If you were not playing tennis, which job would you like to do?
I want to go to university. I have been playing tennis since childhood. Years of experience in tennis taught me that abundant knowledge is very important to be a successful player. I wish to take some courses in sport psychology and health.
In your opinion, which is your best match?
I think my matches during the 2004 Olympic Games. My partner Li Ting and I both felt we played our best in those Olympics. We showed all of our skills.
Who is your favorite player?
Among the men, I like Roger Federer the best. He seems to be a king on the court, very impressive. I think Steffi Graf is the greatest women's player. It is a pity that she had already retired when I became a professional tennis player. I always regret that I didn't have a chance to watch her play live.
If you could have one tennis gift, what would it be?
If I could have the magical power to make that choice, I would definitely not choose a tennis technique! I would prefer something mental. I think players who rank close to each other do not have much difference in their techniques - it is calmness, confidence and wisdom that decide their wins or losses.
Which kind of people do you like to be friends with?
I like people who are outgoing but not too talkative.
Monday, January 12, 2009
The sunlight in Australia taught a friend of mine a lesson. She stayed outside for 30 minutes and did not put on any sunscreen. Then she got sun burnt and came to borrow my face mask to heal it! Some tennis players look older than their age, because they frequently play matches outside and are exposed to sunlight. In Australia, the Ozonosphere is destroyed and UV is very strong. So, many people have skin cancer in Australia.
Today we had our first doubles match and met Black and Huber, the 2008 year-end doubles champions and current No.1s. In the first set we played well at first but did not keep the momentum going. In the second set we did not take our chances well enough in some critical points. Players in the Top 20 or Top 30 don't have much difference in their tennis techniques - it is confidence, flexibility and calmness that play a bigger role in winning or losing for them. That was obvious in our match. Black and Huber were very calm, even when it was close in the beginning of first set. They managed to take their chances later. Yet Anna-Lena and I seemed to lack some calmness when we encountered the same case.
There are few fixed partnerships in doubles. Most of us look for our partners from tournament to tournament. Sometimes we find our partners for the next tournament while we're playing in the present one, or we can find them on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour's website. Sometimes partners don't even get a chance to practice together, and go straight to their matches together. In doubles, trust in your partner is very important, so sometimes that can be a disadvantage. But usually when you're picking a partner, you have trust in them already.
Last year I reached the semifinals in Sydney, but I did not play well enough this year. There are still many matches to play this season though. There are lots more tournaments to go, and when I lose I just try to move on to the next. So now, I'm going to begin preparing for the Australian Open.
Sunday, January 11, 2009
I flew to Sydney immediately after the Brisbane International. For the last few years, I've spent every January in Australia. My motto is "enjoy the Australian sun", which I wrote last January. Actually, the sunlight in Australia isn't so enjoyable for my skin, which peels whenever I play matches here! I guess out goes the old and in comes the new... ha!
I've been away from home for tournaments for a long time now. I really miss my mother's cooking! I came to Australia on December 31 and so couldn't celebrate New Year's with my family. Although this is pretty normal for me, it still felt a little gloomy. I wish someone could have celebrated it with me on the plane!
I usually try to make some time to see the city whenever I'm playing a new tournament. Brisbane, which replaced Gold Coast this year, is the first stop of the new season for me. The city is very quiet and the amount of turns and bends in the roads really impressed me! I even felt a little faint whenever I was driving between the hotel and the tennis center, but don't worry, everything is okay now!
The Sony Ericsson WTA Tour made many changes to the calendar for 2009. There are tournaments with more prize money, and they're also paying more attention to the players' health, giving us a longer off-season among other things. I like these changes. I was also happy with how I played in the first set of my first match of the year in Brisbane, but I wasn't aggressive enough in the second set and didn't take my chances enough to turn the match around. I've been going to tournaments for many years now and I'm always reflecting on my wins and my losses, what I did well and what I could have done better. I'm always trying to improve my game, but I also try to take the positives away.
I'm playing doubles in Sydney with Anna-Lena Groenefeld from Germany. I hope my fans will enjoy my match and any match the other Chinese players are in!
I'll talk to you all again tomorrow!