BLOGGER'S NOTE: "Wo" is Mandarin for "I" or "me"

This week has been chock-full of birthdays. My roommate, Vivian, had a birthday on Saturday, the People's Republic turned 60 last Thursday and I hit the big two-three (23) yesterday.

My roommate Vivian, her boyfriend and one of her co-workers took me out to a Muslim-type restaurant to celebrate the night before my birthday since they all had work the next day. Afterward, they sang "Happy Birthday" in English and Chinese and presented me with a massive cake.

But after the disappointment of spending most of October 1 inside watching the celebrations on TV, I didn't want a complete repeat of indoor festivities on my actual birthday. More importantly, I also didn't want to spend it alone.

I decided to call one of my friends and former co-worker, Marisha, at China Daily to see if she wanted to go to the China Open, the equivalent of the U.S. Open tennis tournament, on Tuesday. We'd been planning to go but hadn't decided on a day. Tuesday would be perfect. I joked about getting to see my tennis idol Andy Roddick.

We bought tickets for ourselves and another China Daily worker, Mike. Exclusive seating would have cost us about 300-600 kuai (between $50 and $100). We went for the lower end tickets, costing only 100 kuai ($14).

The seats for the Center Court weren't bad. The players on the tennis court weren't the minuscule ants I'd thought they would be, since the map of the arena I'd seen on the China Open's website made it seem like our tickets were in the nose-bleed section.

The first match started at 11 a.m. between Marat Safin of Russia and Jose Acasuso of Argentina. It was a quick two-set match. I thought our tickets were only good for one game, and as I was getting ready to leave the loudspeaker announced that the next player would be played against "someone someone" (whose name I couldn't hear) and Maria Sharapova. I sat back down. Holy crap - Sharapova?!?

Soon enough Sharapova came out to cheers and shouts of "Maria!" The three of us remained seated. We thought we'd stay until the next group ticket holders ousted us. But no one showed up. The match between Sharapova and No. 7 Victoria Azarenka of Belarus lasted about three hours, with Sharapova winning.

The courts cleared again and the loudspeakers proclaimed two more names. 
Lukasz Kubot of Poland and... Andy Roddick. "Oh God," I thought. "Happy Birthday to me."

Andy must not have known it was my birthday, because from the get-go he played a lousy game. He just wasn't there. He missed shots and forced others into the net. He even smashed a racquet and yelled at one of the towel people. Losing in two sets, Roddick exited the court and my birthday was all but ruined.

It was going on 5:45 p.m. and we figured there would be one more match before the evening games, which began at 7 p.m. As a new set of line judges came onto the court the final two players were announced: Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus and Raphael Nadal. So my birthday wasn't completely ruined after all.

The match was intense, as Baghdatis took Nadal to three sets, almost forcing him into a tie breaker in the third set.

After a full day of watching tennis, it was finally time to go. Now freezing cold, since the sun had gone down and I hadn't anticipated staying the whole day, we made our way to the exit of the National Tennis arena.

All in all, and despite Roddick losing and being away from my friends and family, it was a great birthday.
Photos courtesy Mike and Marisha
Mike Roman
10/11/2009 02:23:18 am

All in all sounded like a good day... you got to see my mentor Mr. Rafael Nadal, hahahaha


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