Last weekend saw some world-class tennis action arrive on the shores of our sunny island, as ATP ranked male tennis stars - world no.9 Janko Tipsarevic, Kei Nishikori (no.15), Sam Querry (no.22) and Juan Monaco (no.12) each represented their respective continents to compete in the inaugural Clash of Continents, a round-robin tournament held at the Singapore Indoor Stadium in a battle of pride, honour and glory.
While it was inevitable that the men’s event attracted the bulk of public interest, the exhibition match by women tennis duo Daniela Hantuchova (Slovakia) and Peng Shuai (China) on day 2 of the event is worth a major mention and is the main focus of my piece here.
So much has been said about women’s tennis over the years, of how it has changed from a sport where mere elegance, skill and poise could win you a Grand Slam years earlier to one where mental strength, power and speed have become just as key in the ingredients for success today.
Indeed while it may just have been an exhibition match, Hantuchova, exuding absolute feminity with her toned legs and good posture, and a cheery-faced Peng got the testosterone-filled crowd watching on the edge of their seats throughout the 97 minute affair, one which Peng emerged victorious with straight sets over her European adversary.
Stronger, faster, more powerful
Speaking with SingaporeSports.sg in an exclusive interview prior to the event on Friday, 23 November, Peng Shuai went on about how women's tennis has changed drastically since the appearance of the Williams sisters.
“The emergence of stronger, faster and more powerful players has taken our game to the next level and given me a greater challenge,” she quipped.
Also up for debate was the topic of tennis as a sport in Asia, and the lack of Asian tennis players in the upper echelons of the sport.
A question to which Janko Tipsarevic replied, “I think as with any sport, you need to be exposed at a very young age. Only in recent years has the interest developed in this part of the world so it is natural to have fewer top professionals. We could definitely see more good Asian tennis players coming through as the level of interest grows.”
Tennis enthusiasts, fans and Singaporeans who were merely in attendance in search of novelty on the weekend totalled up to a gratifying figure of about 13,000 over the 2 days and were treated to a show of real talent at the event.
The Clash of Continents 2012 was co-organised by Game Changer, Sports Management Group (SMG) and the Singapore Tennis Association (STA) with the ambition of elevating the sport of tennis in Singapore and Asia to new heights through increased participation and spectator interest.
The event was also graced by British singer-songwriter Leona Lewis, with this coincidentally being her first concert in Singapore too.