Tour Stars Keeping Busy in Tokyo
Published October 06, 2009 09:52
TOKYO, Japan - It was a busy week both on and off the courts for players of the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour during the Toray Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo. While taking in the sights, players had opportunities to experience some of the best that Japan has to offer, while the country's legendary top player, Ai Sugiyama, played her farewell tournament after 19 years on the Tour.
On the Saturday before the tournament began, Caroline Wozniacki and Aleksandra Wozniak experienced a whole other kind of sport - sumo wrestling. The two were joined by friends and joked around as they headed to the sumo event, where they watched a tournament of one of Japan's oldest sports: "It was very interesting," Wozniak said. "The champions won - that's for sure!" After watching the match they met sumo champion Asahoryu for a photo opportunity. Watch Caroline and Aleksandra's Sumo Adventures
Meanwhile, on site, Nadia Petrova visited the Toray booth to experience some of Japan's unique culinary delights. Petrova sampled confectionaries, including candy made from beans. "I really liked it; I might have it again because we don't get to taste anything like this anywhere else in the world," Petrova said. "I want to understand more about the culture and explore all the cuisine." The Russian then got a lesson in Furoshiki, which is a way of bundling clothes, and is now an eco-friendly way to avoid using plastic bags. The technique is similar to origami. "It's very comfortable and very easy to do," Petrova said. "In the beginning it looks complicated, but once you learn how to wrap it up, it's very simple." Watch Petrova's Off-Court Endeavors
Li Na and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova also experienced fine Japanese cuisine, but instead of ordering, they were behind the counter as the learned the art of sushi-rolling. The two players, who had great success at the Toray Pan Pacific Open, reaching the semifinals and third round, respectively, enjoyed learning the complicated process of making one of their favorite foods with seaweed, rice and fish - though Li didn't exactly find it easy. "Before becoming a tennis player my dream was to become a housewife," Li said. "After today, I give up!"
Watch Li and Pavlyuchenkova learn sushi-rolling
Kimiko Date Krumm celebrated her 39th birthday in Tokyo, just after picking up the singles title at the Hansol Korea Open in Seoul. Toray Pan Pacific Open Tournament Director Toshio Noji led a group that sang to Date Krumm to wish her a happy 39th. "I got a Sony Ericsson WTA Tour title yesterday, so it's a great birthday for me!" Date Krumm said. "Some people don't like it when people get older - I'm already old so I don't need to have a birthday cake, but for me I'm very happy to celebrate every year."
Watch Date Krumm's Birthday Celebration
Finally, players and friends paid an emotional tribute to departing player Sugiyama, who announced just a few weeks prior that the Toray Pan Pacific Open would be her final tournament. Sugiyama reached a career-high of No.8 in the singles rankings and won an astonishing 38 doubles titles throughout her tennis career, including three majors. At the ceremony her current doubles partner paid tribute. "I want to wish you the best at whatever you do, and I'm sure you'll do fine," said Daniela Hantuchova, while holding back her tears. "Because you've got that little fighter inside you, and with the focus and determination you have with everything you touch, I'm sure you'll be great and you'll have a lot of fun. Thanks for sharing all of the tennis moments on the tennis court with us, and I wish you all the best for the future."
Watch Sugiyama's On-Court Tribute