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Nikolay Davydenko Blogs From Beijing

Nikolay DavydenkoATPIrina and myself dress up on the Great Wall of China.

Saturday, September 16, 2006   

Greetings from Beijing, with my final post. After a good night’s rest, Irina and I started at 10am with transportation taking us to pick up tickets for a flight to Moscow tomorrow.

Then, we got to visit the Great Wall. Not the Simatai section, like Ivan [Ljubicic] on Wednesday, but the Badaling section. There was a lot of traffic on our two-hour journey. When we arrived we couldn’t believe how big and long it was.

We started to go up steps, not knowing how far we could walk. The beginning was steep; every 40 meters we would take a break. Irina said she was dying and couldn’t get to the finish, or at least as far as the eye could see.

The first 400-500 meters were just steps. We spent one and a half hours going up – around 1,000 steps. We recovered and took some photos. In the first 100 meters there were hundreds of tourists. The second and third hundred meters there was nobody. Come the finish... well, no one else could reach it!

It was hot on the ascent, but our Russian mentality told us to finish. Our legs were heavy. Then we thought how are we going to get down? We were exhausted. But we surprised ourselves by getting down in half an hour.

When we finished we thought no more steps. We never want to see steps again.

Exhausted, we bought some presents for friends at a souvenir shop. A group of other Russians spotted me and asked if I was still playing in the tournament.

Having spent two hours there we needed food, so went to a restaurant that combined as a porcelain factory for lunch. We bought some more presents there and then headed back to the hotel.

Irina wanted to do some shopping, so I dropped her off and gave her my credit card! I went on to the tournament site to thanks everyone.

I still haven’t heard from Irina. I guess I won’t see her until our flight tomorrow?

Tonight, I will rest and prepare for the Davis Cup. After that I will need two weeks to recover.

I really enjoyed doing the blog this week. I remember reading Dmitry’s [Tursunov] earlier this season. I wanted to add plenty of fun photos, not of me on the court. I wanted people to smile and have heard positive things from friends and fans. Thank you to everyone for reading throughout the week.

Nikolay


Friday, September 15, 2006   
 
Update: I am sorry that I had to retire tonight but my body did not have any energy. I do not have any injury, but at night because of the 12-hour difference with America, I feel completely dead.

Tomorrow I will stay in Beijing, and with Irina we will go to the Great Wall but not in the morning because I will sleep. I have enjoyed my stay in Beijing and I hope to be back in China for the [Tennis] Masters Cup. This is an interesting place.

Speak to you tomorrow night after the Great Wall trip and you'll see some great pictures.

Nikolay


Friday, September 15, 2006  

I got through my second match yesterday against Luka Gregorc but the conditions surprised me. The wind was strong right from the first game. I lost my serve easily. But I said ‘okay, no problem, I will come back’. He [Gregorc] was excellent on serve and I had only one chance to reach the tie-break. It was easy in the tie-break and after he lost his service game at the start of the second set, I found it easier.

After the press conference, we returned to the hotel and had room service. Because of playing at night we had no other choice. Go somewhere in Beijing? No, I needn’t to recover, room service was the best we could do.

This morning the ATP explained that Irina and myself would be going to the Summer Palace in Beijing by boat. But in the end the trip turned out quite different. Check out the China Open Photo Gallery.

Due to problems with the boat, we took a bus and arrived at 11:30am. However, on the way back we got a boat. At the beginning it seemed we weren’t allowed to record videos or take photos because I guess it is tough to do so in China. But then they allowed the photographer and camera crew in. We spent a few hours there looking around. It was very interesting and the outside was beautiful. Certainly, it was great to explore something in China outside of tennis courts.

I was very surprised to see a palace like this in Beijing. Every country is different of course. In Europe, you can see special things. Europe is city, city, and city. In Beijing, it is a historical city. I think China is unlike any other country. Beijing is an old city and what you can see in the Summer Palace is four-five hundred years worth of tradition. You cannot read about this sort of thing, you really have to visit in person.

A watch seller at the Summer Palace leaves Nikolay and Irina with a decision to make.It was very special. A Russian may come here and say: ‘I like it I want to spend the rest of my life here’. Someone like [Roman] Abramovich could buy everything. I think it is only in China you have this history. You have it in Russia, but it is very different.

Once again, I play a night match tonight so I don’t know what I am going to do until 9pm. I will practice a little, take lunch and rest. Preparation. Concentration.

After the Davis Cup in Moscow, next week, I will take two week’s rest and return home back to Germany. When I say home, I consider Germany to be home. I will spend time there practicing and buy a house in Germany near the Belgian border.


Thursday, September 14, 2006  

Hello. After my first match and press, we came back to the hotel to rest. I asked Irina what we would do and she said: “nothing”. No shopping. No trip around Beijing.

We decided to spend time at the gym. Irina ran and I used the sauna and swimming pool for a few hours. By the time we got back to our room, we didn’t want to go anywhere and got room service before bed.

Today, I woke up at the same time, 7am. Like normal people, not like tennis players! We had breakfast, but were then unsure of what we were going to do all day. So I went to the gym again and ran for 20 minutes, used the bicycles just to get in shape for tonight’s match. After all, my match is at 7pm.

I prefer playing during the day, because sometimes you don’t feel great in the dark with your serve. I think it is tough to play under lights, you can’t see the balls clearly. If I play a lot of night sessions, like in New Haven, every day, then it is okay.

With not a lot to do, we had our first lunch at the hotel and it was surprisingly good. A buffet, like I have never seen before. There was every kind of food from different countries. The calamaris were great and the seafood unbelievable. It was amazing. There was everything there that you could wish to eat. With a full stomach, after lunch I tried to sleep. But couldn’t.

I forgot to tell you. I got a special gift from the tournament on my arrival at the China Open. It’s difficult to explain, but I’ll do my best. It’s my name in Chinese on special paper, calligraphy paper that I can put on the wall. Someone said the guy who did it was the best. The other thing isn’t a gift or a present, but my treatment here at the hotel and club has been great. If I stay longer maybe I’ll have another present?

And the prawn said to the crab...You might be thinking with a big Davis Cup semifinal tie against the United States coming up, next week, is my focus on that? The answer is no. My mind is only on this tournament in China. I am only interested in what I do now. The tie is in Moscow, only a four-hour time difference. The only problem I foresee should be changing to a clay court surface. But I don’t need to concentrate on that now. I will just relax and take it easy. I have got match wins under my belt and my confidence is good.

If I lose tonight, I have all day tomorrow to see everything in Beijing! The Chinese Wall and everything that I want to see. We will see what happens today. Wish me luck!


Wednesday, September 13, 2006   
 
Hello again. After my first post yesterday, I went to practice and then did a photo session with Rolex. By the time I got back to the hotel I was very tired!

My girlfriend, Irina, then gave me two choices: we either go somewhere or go to sleep. To stay in her good books, I chose the first option.

We asked directions to a shopping mall and, not realising it was a 30-minute journey, headed off in hope of finding some good bargains. By the time we got there we didn’t feel like buying anything. Having walked around for 90 minutes looking in shop windows we decided there was nothing.

Irina stopped to buy some sunglasses and tried on plenty. A further thirty minutes later, I was almost asleep! At this point some Chinese girls, who were trying to sell some products, asked if I was a tennis player. I signed some autographs and posed with them for photos.

By the time we got back to the hotel I had 15 minutes to change my clothes and head down to a cocktail party in the hotel, which was a presentation with the tournament director and sponsors. Irina didn’t go she went asleep straight away.

I spent an hour down at the party and tried to eat some food, but was distracted from my meal by autograph hunters. It is safe to say that I went to bed with very little in my stomach. By 9:30pm I was fast asleep.

Irina and I have been together for three-and-a-half hours… oops! That’s not long! We’ve been together three-and-a-half years. We first got together when I won in Estoril [in 2003]. It was the first time she had come to a tournament, and I won! That was surprising. Irina comes from Chelyabinsk, to the east of the Ural Mountains, and works in Moscow having finished her psychology studies last year.

Now Irina travels with me every week. She didn’t travel in Australia back in January, but now she’s full-time. Irina provides me massages. If she isn’t here I get a Russian physio. But I don’t like that too much.

Irina helps me from going crazy at tournaments. If something is bad at a tournament, we spend more time together and don’t think about wanting to go home and rest. It’s one of the reasons why I play so many tournaments. If my family and girlfriend are here then I’m fine.

The people in Beijing have been very hospitable. It’s my first time here and I don’t think I have ever got such VIP treatment. In the United States and Europe the organization is different. Everyone comes to me here like I am so famous and organize the best things for me.

I played my first match early this morning and it went okay. Prior to the match I went to the tournament doctor because I was experiencing breathing difficulties, like asthma. I have found it tough to breath here. I tried to get the job done quickly, so a two sets win was good.

Tonight, my girlfriend is in charge of arrangements. I don’t know. I think we will just rest on our second full day in Beijing. Perhaps we will use the hotel swimming pool, the sauna and have a massage. While we like Chinese food, I don’t think it won’t be a good idea after a swim. So maybe room service.

Nikolay

 
Tuesday, September 12, 2006  

Phew, I made it to Beijing!

After my semifinal loss to Roger Federer at the US Open on Saturday, I immediately made my flight and hotel reservations. I had planned to fly from New York to San Francisco with American Airlines, then onto Beijing.

When the car took my girlfriend and I to the airport at 5:30am things were going well. Arriving early, with only a reservation form and no tickets I went straight to the check-in desk.

Then things started to get difficult. At the desk the girl told me, "You lost your reservation yesterday. You do not have a flight." Undeterred, I responded, "No problem, give me something different." She said: "Okay, we have something for 11:30am."

Having arrived at 7am I needed to wait four hours and finally got on a 16-hour flight to Tokyo. Unable to sleep, my eyes were red as I watched six different movies. Switching planes to Japan Airways, I slept throughout the four-hour journey.

We finally arrived in Beijing at around 9pm last night and were surprised to see that my two bags of clothes had arrived safely. The organization was great as a car was waiting to pick us up and when we got to the hotel, we didn’t need to check-in – just like at the Tennis Masters Cup in Shanghai last year.

I slept well in a perfect suite and woke at 6am. We ate a great breakfast at 8am and then ventured out to a supermarket just 50 meters from the hotel where we bought some chocolate and water. Although there are plenty of Europeans at the hotel, none of them seem to venture outside. Perhaps they are scared?

The flights and the time differences do take it out of you, but if I have proper rest and prepare for each match then I can play a lot of tournaments and feel okay. The time difference between here and New York is 12 hours so today it is tough for me, but I will try to sleep better tonight and then maybe tomorrow I will be okay.

While I may not make it downstairs to the hotel dinner and reception at 8pm, I am looking forward to exploring Beijing. We’d like to see the Great Wall of China and my girlfriend is particularly keen to do some shopping.

I’ll write more after my first match tomorrow.

Nikolay

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