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Jonathan Erlich & Andy Ram Blog From Bangkok

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Sunday, October 1, 2006  

Jonathan: Greetings everyone on the final day of our blog. It couldn’t end better than it did, with a title, especially given that starting at sundown, it’s Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Forgiveness. That’s the holiest day on the Jewish calendar. So it’s a really special day. I’m glad we started if off on the right foot.

Yesterday we had issues with the final, because originally the tournament wanted to have the doubles played after the singles, and we knew the singles started at 2:30. So there was a chance our match would conflict with the start of Yom Kippur.

We had big discussions with the tournament staff until late in the night to convince them to play the doubles first. We weren’t sure until the end what time and on which court we would be playing.

It was a great effort by everyone on the tournament staff to accommodate us. We’re really glad with what they did. From their point of view, maybe they lost a little bit business-wise, but they won our happiness and appreciation. I think sometimes an issue like this is a little bit more important than business. Still, we want to thank the tournament staff again for their understanding.

It was a little messy coming into the final under these circumstances, but we came out really strong mentally. It’s tough when you’re the favorite – the pressure’s on you. We knew it wouldn’t be easy. But a final is a final. We started out playing pretty well, lost our rhythm a little, but came back strong in the Match Tie-break.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the rituals of Yom Kippur, it involves a fast – no food or drink – for 24 hours starting at sundown today. You also don’t drive during that period.

It’s going to be quite a whirlwind now, with the fast and then going to synagogue tomorrow morning. We’re even changing our hotel to be nearer to the synagogue, so that we don’t have to drive there tomorrow morning.

Then we’re looking forward to flying back home tomorrow night and spending a few days in Israel before the indoor season in Europe.

As for the Stanford ATP Doubles Race, we knew that every win here was another step for Shanghai, solidifying our No. 7 position. Remember that the top eight teams will compete in the Tennis Masters Cup there.

Andy: I’m speaking w/sadness today, and that’s not just because of Yom Kippur. Today is the last day of the blog. We got so much positive feedback. Roger Federer does it next week, and now he’s got quite a standard to match. We’ll see if he can cut it. Good luck to you Roger!

The blog obviously brought good luck to our results at the tournament. Now we’re thinking that we’ll have to write our own private blog to ourselves every day, just to keep up the good karma.

In addition to the blog, it was a week full of great massages. There is no part of my body that is tight right now. It helped to make us play relaxed. We came on the court having so much fun, and it was like a home crowd for us. They’re great spectators.

Let me just add a little to what Jonathan said about Yom Kippur. It’s such a special day for us that we don’t do anything. We just sit in a room and read and maybe go to synagogue at the end of the day. It’s the most special day for 6 million people in Israel. No one goes out, except for trips to the synagogue, and there’s no driving. So there are no cars in the street.

Winning our fourth title of the year and playing great coming into Shanghai is a big deal. I have more than 50 messages on my phone, and two more have even come in while we’re doing the blog. People are expecting us to be the first Israelis to play in the year-ending championships. That makes it very special here.

Hopefully the fans can follow us more after this blog. The ATP doubles revolution is exciting. It was a great match today, and the crowd was really into it. Hopefully it will continue like this.

The best feeling will be going back to Israel with the title. The press will probably be waiting for us at the airport, like they always do when we win. Israel is a small country, so they make a big deal out of our doubles titles. It’s nice when you become popular in your home country.

One last thing: we have to thank our dear friend in Thailand Ori Dolev, who suggested we wear yellow shirts to the awards ceremony in honor of the Thai king. He came up with the idea two minutes before the ceremony, so we had to scramble to get the shirts.

But we got so much good reaction. People knew we were showing respect for the king. They themselves were wearing yellow. It was nice for the game. Maybe now, we’ll be adored here as much as Paradorn :)

Thanks again for supporting our blog!

Jonathan and Andy

 
Saturday, September 30, 2006  
 
Andy: First we have to apologize. No new pictures today, so here's one from earlier in the week... Right now it's 10.30 pm here in Bangkok. It's been a very long day for us but we're in the final for the third time in four years and it helps our chances of making it to Tennis Masters Cup, so we're very happy. We didn't expect to finish so late; we had some Yom Kippur issues to discuss. We'll write plenty about Yom Kippur in our final post tomorrow.

We went for a famous massage last night to relax and we had a very nice dinner with friends - it's a great atmosphere in Bangkok. Today we got to meet the Argentine ambassador (Jonathan will tell you more about that in a minute). I felt a little left out of the conversation, so after about five minutes I jumped in and said to the ambassador, "Hi, I'm your neighbor from Uruguay."

Today we did something rare... we sat in the stands and watched a whole match: Safin and Blake. It was one of the most exciting matches I've seen. And then the atmosphere got even better when Paradorn took the court to play Ljubicic. Paradorn is like the second king here. People go crazy!

I think it's great that Paradorn is wearing 'LOVE KING' on the back of his shirt this week. I think tomorrow in the final I'll wear 'LOVE JONATHAN.' There's just two problems: 1) I'm not sure if those two words will fit across my shoulders and 2) I'm not sure where I'll find someone to put the letters onto my shirt between now and the final.

Jonathan: Yeah, the fans do go crazy for Paradorn over here. Paradorn drives this yellow Ferrari and parks it right where the transportation is for the players. So all the fans know he's in the building when the Ferrari is there. There is a security guard for the parking lot and he also guards Paradorn's car.

It was really exciting to watch the Blake-Safin match today. And it was a bonus to meet the ambassador from Argentina. The Israeli ambassador is a great tennis fan and she's been to the tournament almost every day. She is also a friend of the ambassador or Argentina, and she knew that both Andy and I were born in South America, so she invited us to meet the ambassador. I was born in Argentina and Andy was born in Uruguay.

Fans were making so much noise inside the stadium that we had to step outside to talk. We spoke to the ambassador for about 10-15 minutes but it was pretty hot outside and we started sweating, so we had to head back into the air conditioning and that was the end of the conversation! During our talk we spoke about when my parents moved to Israel, do I still have family in Argentina, when am I going back to Argentina, that sort of thing.

So we're going to have a quick shower and then get something to eat quickly before the restaurants close. Wish us luck for the final and we look forward to making our final post tomorrow.

Jonathan and Andy


Friday, September 29, 2006   
 
Andy: Hello. Last night we went for an Italian again, and once again I had a pizza. For the first time in four years, we did not have a massage in Bangkok. Our bodies are loose enough already. I chatted to my wife Shiri, my mother and sister and discussed the situation in Israel, as I have not followed it recently.

Jonathan: Today was the first time we played early, around 12 noon. It wasn’t easy waking up at around 8am, and we started to warm up at 10am preparing mentally and physically, as we knew it was not going to be an easy match against Jiri Novak and Petr Pala.

Andy: We really like playing here, the atmosphere, massage, food and shopping are excellent so it is no surprise we play well here. There are around 20 backpackers who have come to support us here and a further 30 who have come from Israel to Thailand to cheer for us.

Allon Khakshouri, the tournament director here, is a friend of ours from Israel. All the people who work from him provide excellent organization and that means when we come here we really feel at home.

Jonathan: Yona Yair, I am sure she wants to get a mention in the blog, so let me write, as she is very special! I have known her since the age of six. She runs the show. Every professional player knows about her.

Andy: Yes, anything you need, you go to Yoni.

Incidentally I just got a telephone call from the head of the Israel Tennis Federation, who informed me that we were playing Luxembourg at home in the Davis Cup in February. I think Davis Cup is, after competing in a Grand Slam, the most special week and the chance to represent your country is great.

Our last tie for Israel was against Great Britain on the Eastbourne grass courts in July, against Andy Murray, Alex Bogdanovic and Jamie Delgado, which we won in the end 3-2. It was an unbelievable tie. The first time, I think, Israel has beaten Great Britain in Davis Cup.

Celebrating our Davis Cup win over Great Britain in Eastbourne in July.Jonathan: Coming into the tie as underdogs, the coach said he would shave his head should we win the tie. He almost had an Afro haircut. So it was a big effort to win and to see him bald. Every rubber was tough; we were sweating right from the start.

Andy: Our doubles rubber was tough too, of course.

Jonathan: Yes, we were 4-1 and a break point down in the fifth set. We came out to win 6-4 – a great effort. Noam Okun also fought hard against Delgado for a fifth set win, so that we stayed in the [Euro-African zone] group one.

Andy: To make this story shorter, when we got back to the hotel, Jonathan took her shaving machine from his bag and shaved five players, the captain, coach, doctor and the physio.

Jonathan: EVERYONE ended up bald on the team. We didn’t miss one. We started with our coach, as the rest of us are almost bald.

Andy: When we came back to Israel, everyone looked at us on the streets.

Jonathan: Nine prisoners that have broken free from jail. But we are a close team, and it was done in the right spirit with plenty of fun. Right now, we need to raise the bar and see what we do next for Luxembourg. I’m thinking of something nasty.

Andy: Now we have played and won our match we will go back to the hotel and starting shopping and haggling for clothes. Not DVDs like the other day. We’ll have a massage, for me another head massage again – that was great. Have a good dinner with friends later.

Jonathan: Yes, I think I’ll have a small nap right now to be ready for this evening and then for another tricky match tomorrow.

Andy: Semifinals and finals are always exciting and tricky. It’s show time! These are the most exciting days. Read our blog again tomorrow and we’ll tell you about our holiday plans.

Jonathan and Andy


Thursday, September 28, 2006  

Greetings on day four of our blog! When we first saw the schedule today, we thought “oh, no!” We were ready to play but found we didn’t have a match, so are a little disappointed. Practice never comes close to a match.

We can only have so many massages each day, but we also know that from tomorrow onwards matches could come thick and fast if we win.

What makes up for it though is the pleasant tournament staff; the organization and the facilities here are superb. With the temperature outside being very hot we wear flip-flops, but in the players lounge jackets are required.

Jonathan: I was very disappointed not to play today, but we found out early on. Last night we had a great Italian meal with friends and then I chatted with my fiancée, Mor.

Andy: Unlike the Japanese restaurant there was no chance we would go in the kitchen again. The pizza we had was very nice.

Jonathan: Talking to Mor always helps me a lot. She allows me to travel and play tennis so that makes me happy. Being away around 30 weeks of the year on the ATP circuit isn’t easy.

Unfortunately she can’t travel with me full-time as she works as a fashion designer for a company, but she does travel four-five weeks of the year. She loves shopping too, so perhaps it is best she stays at home. Otherwise I would be broke by the time we get married.

I love having her with me, it is relaxing. It isn’t possible right now for her to be with me full-time, but hopefully in future years she will travel more with me.

Andy: Why don’t you buy her company and make her your manager and then you can travel as much as you want?

Jonathan: Firstly, I think I would have to make another $2-3 million in prize money. Perhaps the readers could sponsor me… yes, that’s it! Come on guys, I need to buy the company, I want my fiancée to travel with me… help me?

While my fiancée didn’t know a lot about tennis when I first met her, now she is getting to know the sport a little bit. She used to live in New York, so knew about the US Open, but not a lot more.

She has also nagged me to teach her, but there is no way I would do that. I’d be happy to pay for her lessons though. Andy’s wife used to coach a bit. Perhaps I will get a discount? Right now, she is a rip off.

Andy: Yes, my wife used to charge dentists or doctors fees! Shiri is my best friend; she knows me the best and is great fun. Right now she is finishing her psychology and management studies, so maybe in the future she can manage me better and travel more?

Jonathan: But she will be having babies; so will have to stay at home.

Andy: Oh my, babies! Maybe if we do the blog next year I will show some baby photos.

Jonathan: Yes, we could raise another doubles pair… Bryan brothers beware!

Andy: But perhaps they may decide to play soccer? I really enjoy soccer and can practice for five hours plus with friends. I support Betar Jerusalem, who has a millionaire investor and is bringing in players.

Jonathan: Yeah and they still can’t win a game.

Andy: We are first in the Israeli league and are going for European competition next season! Of course, I also like going to the beach and hang out with friends where we play a form of volley tennis. We also play backgammon, but I never take much money off Jonathan.

Jonathan: I used to play soccer and basketball, but now like to watch Ronaldinho and UEFA Champions League soccer plus listen to music and read books now. I also enjoy going to the beach and watch the sunset.

Andy: Right, we must stay clear of talking about massages. Everyone we know is reading the blog. Players and the public are stopping us in the street to discuss it.

Jonathan: I wonder if we might get a free massage with our newfound fame? No such luck. Perhaps a free DVD? Hint, hint!

Andy: Stop it! Lets write about what we always take with us on the ATP circuit. For me, all I need is a racket and passport. I don’t really need a credit card as you mostly pay.

Jonathan: I always take a shaver with me. I’ve started shaving my legs in the last few years.

Andy: We have to take a picture of this… any other parts?

Jonathan: Shut up! I also have an instruction book of how to react in various situations with you every day… ‘How to Deal with Andy’!

When you won the Wimbledon mixed doubles with Vera Zvonareva in July, I looked at my instruction book for what to do. Of course, I didn’t really need it. I called to congratulate you!

You were very surprised to hear from me.

Andy: I expected a phone call from the President for sure, but you? Martina Navratilova once told me that it doesn’t matter if you win a singles or doubles grand slam championship; it is still special to win a title.

Jonathan: Martina would know. She has won a few titles in her career.

Andy: Of course, we have talked about winning a Grand Slam in the future.

Jonathan: Yes, once or twice!

Andy: Yes, that was a very special moment. Wimbledon is Wimbledon, so lifting the trophy and the aftermath with all the telephone calls and emails was exhausting. The prime minister called me the day before the war started in Israel.

If we were to do it, we would be the first Israeli champions of a Grand Slam. We are getting there, so fingers crossed.

Jonathan: Personally, for me, I’d say our best match was the quarterfinals in Rome [an ATP Masters Series event] when we played against Paul Hanley and Kevin Ullyett. We won 6-1, 6-4 and played so well. Normally when we play them it is so tough as they are a great team.

Andy: Yes, definitely our best win against a top four team. We’ll write more again tomorrow.

Jonathan and Andy


Wednesday, September 27, 2006  

We’ve been pretty busy since our last post. We have been caught in a monsoon, eaten some excellent Japanese food, visited a new massage parlor for the first time in four years, purchased some DVDs, helped out with a pro-am and practiced for our next match.

Andy: Last night I asked Jonathan to cook for me but he didn’t succeed.

Jonathan: Yes, it wasn’t my best effort. I burned the food!

Andy: So we went out to a Japanese restaurant. The chefs cooked in front of us and it was unbelievable.

Jonathan: We had a great time and had around ten waitresses came up to take our photos. They drove us crazy. We posed for more snaps than we ate, I think.

Andy: This is really the only week when we feel like Roger Federer. Everyone treats us so well.

Jonathan: I really enjoy all kinds of food. Italian, Mediterranean dishes, Japanese, Chinese, Thai, etc.

Andy: My mum…

Jonathan: Yes, your mum is a very good cook too.

Of course another monsoon came again. Apparently people do not leave their homes and go outside between 4 and 7pm. We really are astounded how such heavy rain can come at exactly the same time every day.

It was hot like hell for three hours… Andy didn’t learn how to swim until the age of 24, when he moved to Tel Aviv.

Andy: There’s no sea in Jerusalem, where I lived before moving to Tel Aviv.

Jonathan: Thank goodness there aren’t any sharks in the Mediterranean, otherwise someone would eat you.

We then went for a DVD shop after dinner and found the second series of Lost and plenty of other great deals.

Andy: Yeah, Jonathan was a freak… he bought loads.

Jonathan: Well, why not? We had a lot of time and with the European indoor season coming up I need to find some entertainment for the next few months.

Andy: I helped with the bartering.

Jonathan: You liar, you didn’t say a thing, you kept quiet! All you said was to me, “no, no don’t pay this – we leave.” I paid and got six DVDs for $10. Not too bad, hey?

Andy: They asked for $10.50!

Jonathan: When we were in the US, I couldn’t find Lost. So I really could not wait to come to Bangkok. We went to a street market near the hotel, where there was plenty of clothes and DVDs. They know us already as we have been before.

Afterwards we had a massage. We’ve been coming here for four years, and we have started to realize we have gone to the same place each time.

Andy: Yes, YESTERDAY we changed. A day cannot go by without a massage. We took some photos too.

Jonathan: Yes… just for you the reader. A new place and a new atmosphere. We found a place called ‘Paradise’… and guys… it was paradise. It was clean, on three floors. Great people. We had to wait for 45 minutes for our massage.

Andy: I think the Thai people are so nice and polite. As you know we have gone every night. We have foot, back, and oil massage, Thai massages – really just to work out which is the best.

Jonathan: I came to Thailand for the first time ten years ago and the price hasn’t changed. Everything else has changed, but not the massage price. I will come in 20 years and I bet the price hasn’t changed. A little bit more than $10. I love it.

Andy: Finally, I don’t have jet lag. I feel great with lots of energy. We went to breakfast and then headed off at 11:30am to the club.

Jonathan: Andy informed me were we going at 11:21am.

Andy: We helped out at a pro-am. I think we are the pro-am specialists, when someone is needed we do it! We are the number one pro-am players on the ATP circuit.

Jonathan: Yes, we couldn’t wait…

Andy: We were happy to do it and it promotes the ATP Doubles Revolution. Only one girl came… maybe they have read the blog, or next time we’ll ask the readers if they want to turn up and play a pro-am with us?

Perhaps at the end of the week, I’ll post a photo of my wedding. Yes, perhaps one of Jonathan drunk and kissing me.

Jonathan: I don’t remember that one! I’ve erased that from my mind.

On that note, goodbye!

Jonathan and Andy


Tuesday, September 26, 2006  
 
First things first… last night’s massage! That’s what Tim Henman obviously wants to read about… :-)

Andy: A good place to start... we had a GREAT massage. We didn’t get any photos, but don’t worry if YOU read the blog again we will get some hot pictures!

Jonathan: Yeah, only if we hear we have got more hits than Nadal’s blog will we publish the massage photos! You guys need to work for the photos.

Andy: Obviously, every day is a massage. We really cannot play without one. The massage helped us with a tough first match against Julien Benneteau and Jeff Coetzee for sure today.

The ATP Doubles Revolution new rules make the matches much shorter and the level is tighter and even. There really are no easy matches. The first of the tournament is always tough to play, but we competed at a high level, a good performance, and enjoyed the large number of spectators who watched us win.

Jonathan: Of course, before our massage last night there was a monsoon so we did not want to get wet and wander outside too long in search of a restaurant and dinner. It poured for 50 minutes; it rained so hard you could have drowned standing. After dinner we went for a relaxing walk and were generally looking forward to playing today following our break of three weeks. You never know how you will perform after such a break but we were happy to start the tournament.

Andy: You might think we thoroughly prepared for today’s first match, but I really couldn’t wake myself up this morning as the jet lag had kicked in. I had breakfast and as we were second match on, we started to focus.

We came to the club and I checked my emails on the computer. I had plenty from people I hadn’t talked to for a while – every one discussing the blog. I was surprised to see how popular it is. I was really happy and excited to see that.

Jonathan: We have been surprised about the reaction, so maybe after one week’s break if readers like it a lot we will return and start charging a fee.

Andy: Jonathan then got me away from the computer, which made me a little sad, and said: ‘lets warm up’. We did so for 45 minutes and got pumped up after a three-week break.

Jonathan: Firstly, you are excited upon returning to the court. For sure you miss the adrenaline of competing. Every athlete, every tennis player lives for the adrenaline. You can’t stay at home for two or three months and practice, after two weeks I get crazy. I can’t stay at home. I’m pretty crazy anyway, but I need the adrenaline. I need to play. We got ourselves pumped up for our return and I surprised myself at how well I played, as I had been sick for a few days.

For sure, I struggled - like Andy - with jet lag this morning, people need to understand this. I woke up at 8am, which for me is like four o’clock in the morning. I felt like a hammer had hit my head.

Tomorrow we have a day off, so I’m going to buy some DVDs in the morning. I’m really excited to find the lowest price I can get in the market. As I couldn’t find any in the US, I’m really excited for tomorrow morning.

Andy: I won’t buy anything. I’ll just be backing Jonathan up with the haggling.

Jonathan: This is our main goal for tomorrow, we maybe have up to two days to rest and prepare for our next match.

Andy: Yes, wake up, argue with the Thai locals and then come to practice a little bit as we are in the tournament. Hopefully we will win a few more matches and go on to win the title. But really all I can think about right now is the massage and then you can see the photos.

Jonathan: Jeez, people who read this will think you are stupid writing about massages every day. But I suppose, people who have travelled to Thailand before will understand and know what we are talking about. We DON’T get a happy ending.

Andy: Hopefully tonight we will go to an Italian restaurant, recommended by a friend. A couple of days ago we went to a seafood market, where we met the Israeli Ambassador.

Of course, Jonathan and I are great friends off the court as we’ve known each other for around 15 years. We have good communication and that transmits to the court and makes us a good team.

Jonathan: How about you write something bad about me?

Andy: No, I’m not going to write about that. Like a politician I will work around the issue.

Jonathan: Ha! I’m not going to be so kind. There are so MANY bad points! No, Andy’s great, has a great personality and is excellent to be around. He likes being spoiled, but I’m not the guy to do that. He’s also lazy, but I’ll keep a few more for later in the week!

Andy: And here was I, going to write about your great heart. You can’t harm a fly, etc... BUT he’s serious and that’s what I don’t like!

Jonathan: Right, that’s enough! We’ll have more to tell tomorrow.

Bye!
Jonathan and Andy

 
Monday, September 25, 2006  
 
Hello from the Thailand Open in Bangkok. This week we’ll be double-teaming with the blog from one of our favorite stops on the ATP circuit. We haven’t missed a year… four years running. Let us first begin writing about when we were asked to write the blog.

Andy: I have no idea what the word ‘blog’ means in English. I know many famous singles players have done one this year, so am very pleased to be one of only a few doubles teams to have been asked to write one.

Jonathan: When I first heard we were going to do the blog this week, I started to shake and have been trying to figure out what to say every since. Andy and I have been discussing what we should talk about for the last few hours. I’m not a big talker, Andy likes to talk more! I’ve read other guys blogs, and am really looking forward to it this week. Hopefully we’ll make it fun and readers will enjoy it.

Of course over the last few weeks, since the US Open, the focus has been about a certain wedding on Tuesday, 12 September.

Andy: The WHOLE year has been in preparation for my wedding. I have had the same girlfriend for the last ten years her name is Shiri (I won’t write her maiden name as the space needed will extend this blog too far). Many people in the Israeli tennis community have been waiting for this wedding. Including Jonathan! He’s been talking about it 24 hours a day.

Jonathan: Yeah, 24/7!

Andy: It was an event I won’t forget, a day to remember. People wanted a great wedding and it was! Many people told me about it.

Jonathan: Hang on... I have never heard anyone say their own wedding was ‘a great wedding’. I think other people should be left to say that. No?

Andy: All my friends were there. From the tennis world my best friend Jonathan, Noam Okun, Harel Levy, some of the Israeli girls, the Davis Cup squad, all the Olympic Committee, everyone who has supported me. Six hundred people! Basically anyone who I knew in the street I invited. I’ve got 2,500 photos from the wedding. It was unreal, really impossible to describe. It was a GREAT party!

It was expensive. I have spent money like I’m a singles player! Obviously I have had to keep playing tennis. We are No. 7 in the Stanford ATP Doubles Race now, but hopefully we will finish the year higher. But that depends on how Jonathan plays! ;-)

Jonathan: I was on the same schedule, same pace, as Andy. It seemed hectic, and it was! Who was going to be the singer? Who was going to be the rabbi? With six hundred people coming it was not easy. Everything I did was to help Andy out. Andy’s wedding really was one of the most important events of the year. As one of his best friends we all wanted to celebrate with him. I had a great time and around this time too, I got engaged. Perhaps it was the spirit of the wedding. I proposed to my girlfriend the week after the US Open.

I had three weeks at home and one of the best parties was Andy’s bachelor party, which he failed to mention earlier. That was really something with plenty of dancing and alcohol.

Andy: Oh yeah! But I can’t mention the details of the bachelor party, as I’ll get in trouble with Shiri.

Jonathan: Yeah. It’ll be the fastest divorce ever!

After three weeks break and the wedding we really had massive hangovers and had to start thinking about tennis. Here we are in Bangkok right now. We haven’t missed a single tournament here. It really is one of our favorite tournaments of the year. We are looking forward to getting back on court, after what has been a long break for professional tennis players.

Jonathan: For me it was a long flight over to Bangkok. In Israel, the weekend was a holiday. So I wanted to spend time with my family. Andy came for the qualifying tournament, so was here early. On Friday night I had a 5pm flight to Zurich then on to Bangkok. I arrived 6am Sunday morning. Right now, I’m a zombie! But I would do anything to come to this tournament. They treat you great. I feel at home here.

Andy: My flight was great. I got upgraded to business, which doesn’t happen too often.

Jonathan: Lucky b******!

Andy: On the flight I dreamt for 11 hours from Tel Aviv to Bangkok about the massage I was going to get in Bangkok. That’s really one of the reasons why we have come back four years in a row. It’s unbelievable. One of the best in the world, cheap and the Thai women give great massages.

The hotel is five-star deluxe and the people here are mostly Israeli. The tournament director is as well so everyone takes good care of us.

Jonathan: We won here in 2003 and were finalists last year. But really it is about MASSAGE, MASSAGE, MASSAGE. We have them every day. We really have fun. The people are great. This is a relaxed week. We go shopping and argue over $1. Haggling over 50 cents when we buy shirts, etc. It was great. I HATE people cheating me!

We play well here, we like the surface. We have our friends here and one night I had to sleep on the sofa because they took my room. That year we won. So maybe I should do it this time around?

Andy: But really the main goal this year is to get to the Tennis Masters Cup in Shanghai. Last year we got to go as spectators: cheerleaders with pom-poms, as the wild card reserve team. This time around we are in a good position to qualify with five tournaments to go. Obviously, we believe in ourselves making it this year and since 2003 we have been finishing higher and higher, keep improving and enjoy this great sport as everyone knows.

Jonathan: This really is where the big guns start fighting for places. Spots for Shanghai are up for grabs. Should we blink we will miss out on a place for sure. We will play against all the world’s top teams in the coming weeks. We need to qualify! Beside, I must be there… this is my shopping year! I need to buy CDs and my fiancée has given me a shopping list for Shanghai. In her eyes, if we don’t get to Shanghai she says I shouldn’t come home!

Andy: Today the jet lag has kicked in. I went to bed at midnight after a massage, but woke up at 8am and was clock-watching from 8:30am, 9am, 10am and rose at 10:30. I then went to breakfast and returned to sleep for an hour. After that I practiced with Jonathan for an hour. Good hit. Then onto a buffet lunch and onto thinking about the evening massage… mmm... yes.

Jonathan: I don’t really remember my day. I collapsed after a shower and then woke up at 10am. I could not believe it. My sleep went so fast. I went to breakfast and then practice. Right now, like Andy, I’m thinking about a massage tonight.

We’ll write more tomorrow. Check out our web site: www.andyyoni.com

Jonathan and Andy

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