And so it was that Glebova, just married and now living in her husband's native Thailand, agreed to travel this month from her new home to neighbouring Burma to promote a line of health foods. In an e-mail, she said she might even do a bit of sightseeing. "The purpose of my trip is to promote my line of products 'Natalie by BSC' that I have launched with a company called ICC International in Thailand a few months ago," she wrote on Friday. "It's a line of health food supplements that are now sold all over Thailand and ICC would like to expand it to [the] South East Asia market."
Thailand continues to trade extensively with Burma, but last month Maxime Bernier, Canada's Foreign Minister, announced sanctions that ban Canadian-based businesses from exporting non-humanitarian goods to the country. "The regime in Burma is abhorrent to Canadian values," he said. "And the strongest message has to be sent. Sanctions are the means by which we -- not just Canada, but the international community -- can best exert pressure against the military junta."
Because ICC International is Thai-based, Glebova's business trip would not have contravened the Canadian edict. To her credit, she cancelled it anyway after I sent her an e-mail saying Canadians might question such a trip in light of Ottawa's stance and the fact she has represented Canada on the international stage.
"I have consulted with the Canadian embassy here in Thailand, where they have advised me against travelling to Burma at this time," she responded. "I have cancelled my business trip, and have no plans to travel to Burma." She also expressed her thanks for "providing me with information on this issue from a Canadian perspective." But she said nothing on whether she planned to go ahead with exports of her product to Burma.
Having returned from Australia after surgery on his back, Bhupathi has been having practice sessions with other Indian stars — Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna. Bhupathi has invited the two Indian players along with the Pakistani Davis Cupper Aisam Qureshi to the Tennis Village here to prepare for the new season ahead.
"I thought about this camp for a while. In the past, we had been practising in different places before the season and I thought it would be a great idea if we all train together and I am glad it took off so well," said Bhupathi on the sidelines of the practice session.
There are a few trends to look before diving into the Top 30. Where are all the youngsters? There's not one teenager in the Top 30, maybe an ATP record. There's a super-strong group of 20-year-olds though (Rafa, Novak and Andy M.). Spain sports the most talent and depth, but Argentina is a close second. There are only three lefties in the bunch, and two are from Spain. I only counted four men whom you could argue that their serve is their primary weapon. One-handed backhands make up almost a third of the list. Only three Top-30 men are married but the sole Finn in the Top 30 gets major points for marrying a badminton star. Four guys still have relationships with current or ex-female tennis players. (Let's call them the "Mirkas".) Many of them sport mediocre tattoos (the Top 30 badly needs Tipsarevic here) and all of them are hoping that Federer busts a leg sometime very soon.
...12. TOMMY HAAS: Give it up to the German for putting on his hard hat year after year despite a body prone to breakdown. The 29-year-old will never win a Slam, but he'll come close again before he retires. Will he care though if girlfriend Sarah Foster gets him a part in D.E.B.S. II?
...17. CARLOS MOYA: Who would have thought that the 31-year-old former RG champ still had the legs and desire to contend? Inspiring, but he won't be back in the Top 20 at the end of 2008.
...21. LLEYTON HEWITT: "Rusty" seems to be getting rustier with each passing year as his body continues to break down. Forget about what new coach Tony Roche says about AO title chances. A good result for the 26-year-old would be the semis.
...22. IVO KARLOVIC: In some ways, this huge server is everything that’s wrong about dull power tennis, but give the Croat credit for working hard on his volleys and baseline game. Hell, he won a clay court title!
23. JUAN MONACO: All this strong Argentine's positive results came on clay, but you can expect him to go "Ferrer" on a decent-level, hard-court field at least one time in 2008.
Consider this: The era when two or three players (Steffi/Monica/Aranxta; Chris/Martina/Tracy) dominated a generation may be over. The days when a top player can reach the final losing an average of just three games per match are past. If the WTA tour still doesn't have the same degree of depth as the men's tour, it has consistently had more depth where it counts most - at the top. But even that old argument begs to be qualified - the women probably have as much "depth", if you define depth as parity of talent and skill, as the men... What it comes down to, I think, is that the WTA has suffered enormously from trying - successfully - to create a crossover culture.
The WTA has been so hellbent on selling the game by every means but the game. It has reached deep into the bag to pull out or pander to all kinds of female stereotypes, but it has neglected to build sufficient loyalty among fans (as well as media) for the. . . game.
Trophy time: Saluting the year's best with the 2007 Baggie Awards - Jon Wertheim, SI.com
...Coach of the Year, women: Carlos Rodríguez. The outspoken [Argentine] is an emotional anchor for Henin. Though props to Oracene Williams for her two-Slam campaign.
...Comeback Player of the Year, men: It strikes me that there's something distasteful about giving this honor to a guy coming off a doping suspension. (Otherwise, Guillermo Cañas -- who started the year at no. 143 and finished at No. 15 -- wins going away.) So we'll take Nicolas Kiefer. The German returned in June unranked from a left-wrist injury he suffered at Roland Garros in '06 and finished in the Top 50 at No. 49. In five months of action, he compiled a 19-11 recording two semifinals and two quarterfinals.
...So Long, Farewell: Tim Henman, Justin Gimelstob, Clijsters, Paola Suárez, Corina Morariu, Martina Hingis, Anna Smashnova, Wayne Arthurs, Ken Carlsen, Arnaud di Pasquale, Albert Portas, Greg Rusedski, Sjeng Schalken.
Isner on outside looking in at Australian Open ... for now - Bonnie D. Ford, ESPN
Isner, currently No. 106, just missed the mid-November rankings cutoff for the year's first Grand Slam event. One of the top 100 players, Argentina's Guillermo Canas, already has dropped out with a wrist injury, leaving Isner just two notches from an automatic entry, with fellow American Robert Kendrick just ahead of him.
Isner could bide his time, wait for a couple of other withdrawals and try to slip in without any extra effort. (Jonas Bjorkman of Sweden is another possible scratch, depending on when wife Petra delivers their second child, due in mid-January.) However, Isner's life was complicated when the U.S. Tennis Association asked him and three other young Americans to play off next week for the wild-card berth the organization received in a reciprocal agreement with Tennis Australia.
...The men will play in a round-robin format. Should two of them tie at 2-1, they'll play an additional match. If Isner wins the playoff but then gets into the main draw by virtue of his ranking, USTA spokesman Tim Curry said Monday that it was unclear which player would get the wild card. Robby Ginepri's friends on the U.S. Davis Cup team unsuccessfully lobbied the USTA to offer him the wild-card invitation outright. The 24-year-old reached the third round of the Australian to start the 2007 season, but he struggled after that and sank from the top 50 to No. 134. Ginepri is "currently training very hard in Palm Springs [Calif.] with his coach, Jose Higueras, and is planning to go down to Australia" to play in the qualifying tournament, his agent, Octagon's Kelly Wolf, wrote in an e-mail.
...Sam Duvall also confirmed that 6-foot-9 Isner intends to pair up with 6-10 Croatian Ivo Karlovic to play doubles in Australia. "It was my idea for them to do it in Washington [D.C.] last summer, but I just couldn't make it happen," Duvall said.
Olympics-IOC calls for common front against match-fixing - Reuters
Love-15, love-30. . . Mark Philippoussis loves them all - The Times
One is aware that reality television wouldn’t be what it is without vast degrees of fabrication, but here is a show that is so contrived that we get a new kind of warning from the continuity announcer: “Some scenes in Age of Love have been created for entertainment purposes.”
"I was on the practice courts at Indian Wells," Baghdatis began to Mouratoglou, "and while I was practicing, I saw someone who when I saw what he was doing was the first time I ever see something like this."
..."I played a match from the baseline with a 4-year-old, can you imagine this?" Mouratoglou said. "With a one-handed backhand, at 4. Being able to play a one-handed backhand from the baseline at 4 years old? Good luck to all the others."
He concluded that even though it was chancy business given the prodigy's age, he'd merely move the entire Silva family to Thiverval-Grignon if they wished, pay for its expenses, hire Mari as an instructor, have them reside in one of the 19 cabins up on the ridge above the courts, see that they had a car, and enroll their children in the French school down the road. "It's impossible for me not to help him," Mouratoglou said. "Impossible. It would be a scandal. He's 4, and you give him a violin and it's just you feel this violin is part of his body. What do you do?"
...Her water broke while teaching tennis on Nov. 16, 2001, but she held off for 20 more minutes and finished the lesson before fleeing to the hospital. She gave birth the next morning to Jan, her first child and her husband's second, and the tot turned up immediately at courtside in tennis-ball baskets and such, the tennis village helping raise him.
The uncanny materialized late that summer. It came shortly after she and Scott taped a thoroughly forgettable match between James Blake of the United States and Paradorn Srichaphan of Thailand, the final of the Long Island tuneup for the U.S. Open. As almost nobody on Earth but the participants remembers, Srichaphan led Blake 6-2, 4-0, then held on to win 6-2, 6-4. An entire planet went "Zzzzz," save for a 21-month-old Californian who was transfixed. He began imitating the shots, hitting balls against a living room wall and, most strikingly, imitating the changeovers.
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