Midweek Update – Tennis in Asia

In Tokyo, the quarterfinal round gets underway tomorrow with Maria Sharapova vs. Petra Kvitova, Victoria Azarenka vs. Marion Bartoli, Vera Zvonareva vs. Maria Kirilenko, and Caroline Wozniacki vs. Agnieszka Radwanska.

Similar to her run at Flushing Meadows…Maria Kirilenko has been dishing out the upsets, first dispatching U.S. Open Champ Sam Stosur, then taking down Ana Ivanovic today.

Caroline Wozniacki just received an interesting gift from boyfriend Rory McIlroy . After Thanksgiving of 2009, you’d think professional golfers would learn never to gift golf clubs to a “significant other.” Sorry, Tiger.

Moving on…

For my friends in Southwest Missouri…In Tokyo, Vania King made it to the Round of 16 before losing to Petra Kvitova. Meanwhile, in Malaysia, Rik DeVoest was beaten by Jurgen Melzer in the Round of 16 (6-0, 6-4).

Those still playing in Kuala Lumpur include Viktor Troicki, Nicolay Davydenko, Philipp Petzschner, Janko Tipsarevic, Dmitri Tursunov, Marcos Baghdatis and Jurgen Melzer…

While in Thailand – American Donald Young is still alive. He’ll play Guillermo Garcia-Lopez first on center court Thursday, followed by Santigo Giraldo vs. Gael Monfils. Tomorrow’s night session features Andy Murray vs. Michael Berrer – then Simone Bolelli vs. Grigor Dimitrov.

Good question tweeted from Patrick McEnroe yesterday: “What are you most looking forward to in the last two months of the tennis season?”

If you found yourself yawning through an update from the Far East – you’re not alone. Sure, we have Davis and Fed Cup Finals to get to – year-end Championships in Istanbul (WTA) and London (ATP); but here in the U.S., with Football, Basketball (uh…nevermind), Hockey and the most aggressive Christmas-Shopping marketing on the face of the planet – tennis is WAY BEYOND an after-thought.

Selfishly, it would be nice if the 4th and final Grand Slam event of the year, the U.S. Open, represented every year end championship. Then the players could take a few months off (like NASCAR) – to tweak their engines and find more horsepower; with the exception of the Davis and Fed Cup schedules, of course. Those dates would have to stay the same – they’re static! I would never suggest otherwise, FRB!

Honestly, though – I’ve been making the effort to be less of an insular and arrogant American, and realize that the rest of the world could care less about Peyton Manning’s shoulder or Tom Brady’s four picks against Buffalo (Tom…really?).

That’s one of the great things about tennis – it truly is a GLOBAL game. Just working one Grand Slam event annually rewards you with dozens of new friends and colleagues from New Zealand to Tokyo to Turkey to France. And what brings everyone together? – The thrill of the Major…

Patrick – what I look forward to in the next two months? As an American — Tweeting less, eating more, and hoping that thousands of young kids receive 10-and-under tennis gear under the tree…

To turn a spotlight back on the sport in the States, I’m ready to see a true cultivation of fit young Americans committing themselves to excellence in the game…on the court, instead of through their Wii console.