Friday, 30 January 2009

BOA!


Music has been lounging around recently but hopefully with the release of Se7en, Utada and BoA's English albums there will be a lift in the industry. I'm really excited for BoA because she seems to be getting a lot of promotion and her song is charting well (ok it's only the dance charts but at least it's charting). On the other hand Se7en seems to be getting very little attention; hopefully his talent will enable him to sell alone. Besides English Albums there will be a few Japanese Singles released in March e.g. TVXQ and Koda Kumi; things seem to be lifting up for Asian artistes.
Back to BoA, I really hope she could break the Billboard charts and at least make the Top 75 or something because that will be an achievement for an Asian artiste I think. Though I'm not a fan of any of her album covers - well that's the least of her worries I think. Waiting for news of English albums but seems to be few and far between.

Australian Open Women's Pre Final

Well besides Jelena's loss in R16 there weren't any shocks in Round 16 except for a few unexpected retirements. I was so happy that Vera Zvonareva put Marion Bartoli back into her place by beating her 6-3,6-0. The semifinal was expected besides the loss of Jelena because at one point I was seriously considering the Top 4 making the semis. I was worried about the Serena/Elena match but luckily Serena won - or it would have been an all Russian final!
Well the final now is Dinara Vs. Serena - which was probably what I wanted from the start; even better is that the winner will be ranked No.1 afterwards. I think Serena will win but lets hope that if she does win and get to the No.1 spot that she wouldn't lose the ranking in a few weeks time (like last time).
But I think I'm suffering from Vaidisova-withdrawl symptoms; I'm really missing her presence in the top echelons of the womens game. I need to see her back desperately! I can't even defend her against my friends who have never seen her potential.
Well anyway I was just looking at the Top 10 womens rankings and realised two things - first was how Jelena was like more than 1000 points away but she'll lose all of her lead when the winner emerges! Secondly; kind of silly really, but in the Top 11 players only Venus's name doesn't end in an A, just a thought.

Just a little side note on the other draws;
In the mens doubles the 2nd and 3rd seeds are in the final - hope the Bryan Borthers win!
Also congratulations to the William's sisters for winning the women's doubles - they are just so dominant whenever I focus on the women's doubles draw. It would be so great that two pairs of siblings won the doubles titles. If only Dinara Safina and Marat Safin were a good doubles pair for the mixed! But honestly how did nearly all the Top 8 seeds lose before the Quaters!
Haven't really focused on the mixed doubles because it is so unpredictable - the seeds never matter; only 1 seed was in the quaterfinals - just to note half of the seeds lost in the 1st round.
On the junior boys the No.1 seed is playing a guy I've never heard of - and has too long a name for me to pronounce.
The girls final will see Laura Robson play Ksenia Pervak - go Laura - do Great Britain proud!
Not really interested in the boys doubles but there is 3 Asian players in the final!
Whilst the girls doubles are even less interesting.
I never knew but the Wheelchair Doubles draws consist of only 4 teams - no disrespect but what's the point! What's evem more frustrating is that the Quad Wheelchair Doubles Draw consists of only 2 teams -and they're the same players from the singles! No wonder Peter Norfolk wins everything!

Australian Open Men's Pre Final

Only two days left! So lets recap from my last post.
Well lets start back from Round 16.
I was slightly dissapointed that Gael Monfils retired in the third set but the shock was that Murray lost to Verdasco - and what would subsequently happen. I always thought Murray and Djokovic had a tougher draw than Federer and Nadal - like always, and that showed when Verdasco beat Murray in 5 sets. Though I was sad about it I felt like telling all the supporters of Murray winning the title; I told you so!
The quatrefinal was characterized by Djokovic's retirement and Federer absolutely thrashing Juan Martin Del Potro - my friend went as far to say that Federer was walking to the ball in half of the points. Still devastated that Djokovic didn't make the semis but hopefully he'll push on from here.
The semifinals was everything we wanted, Nadal Vs Verdasco - the longest match in Australian Open history - by a mere 3 minutes. Roddick Vs. Federer - though a comprehensive win by Federer it showed how Roddick may still have the potential to reach a Grand Slam final.
I was in school when Nadal played Verdasco - but I didn't know it would last nearly my whole school day - I remember hearing the score when Verdasco won the 4th set and saying "yes Verdasco will win!" Sadly he didn't but at least he pushed Nadal to his end. I hope Verdasco can continue this form as I don't want to see a Tsonga from him (out for most of the season and then resurge towards the end).
Well it's yet again a Nadal Vs. Federer (which is why I wanted Verdasco to win). I really don't want to see Federer win again however I don't want Nadal to win in that it seems too early for him to conquer the hard courts as well. But if I had to choose I hope it will be a victory for Nadal.

Thursday, 29 January 2009

My Life Would Suck Without You

Kelly Clarkson broke a record by shooting up from No.97 to No.1 with her hit My life Would Suck Without You. I remember loving her album Breakaway but then being absolutely dissapointed by My December, hopefully All I Ever Wanted would be good (especially since Ryan Teddar is producer because I love OneRepublic!)
Kelly's album names seem to be my life story really;
Thankful - for getting into one of the best secondary schools in the country.
Breakaway - from the traditional Asian jobs (if you've never heard of them they are Accountants, Doctors and Lawyers etc)
My December - of hard work and revising for exams!
All I Ever Wanted - was a year without school work! lol!
Well I wonder who I could say "My Life Would Suck Without You" to!

Stressed

My first post about me! I've been really stressed lately, everything seems to be piling on me. Some of my subjects are really taking the bat because of this. I haven't looked at my Art for the last month and I handed in one of my worst pieces of homework today - it may seem rather small to you but its bound to snowball (Pessimistic me!) NEED to practice my violin as well or I'll find it difficult even to play an "A". So typical everything starts piling up when exams have finished. It's just that education seems so pointless when i think about it; aren't we focusing too much on the academics rather than compassion and empathy - why do people laugh when the government wants to bring in happiness classes - it would sure help me!

ANTM CYCLE 12!

Oh My God, I didn't realize that the ANTM girls had been posted on the web, but now I know! I was really excited about this cycle as from the candids I've seen, the girls looked like a strong bunch. Well lets go onto the contestants shall we!
If you haven't seen them here's a link:
http://honestlyantm12.wordpress.com/

Allison has a cute look which does appeal to me in certain aspects, she looks totally different from past ANTM girls which is good but I wasn't too sure about her portrait shot. Interested but not loving her yet - emphasize on the yet, she may strike me like an Analeigh!

I liked Aminat's afro and the style she portrays in her portrait shot, in some aspects she reminds me of Danielle Cycle 6 - the first ANTM I watched the whole of. I really hope she isn't a flop like a few of the girls last year.

I'm not liking Celia to be honest, mainly because of her portrait shot, she kind of reminds me of a past ANTMer but I just can't put a name to it.

Love the name Fo! and I do see how some people think she looks like Leslie Cycle 6. She looks a bit tame at the moment but I'll reserve judgment because I think she's one of my favourites currently.

Isabella looks OK but her body proportions in her portrait look well out of line. I'm hoping she comes out with some sass and maybe a makeover will help her like Sam Cycle 11, as at the start you can barely remember her, but after her makeover she was much more striking.

Jessica has an unconventional look I think, she may get compliments for her being racially ambiguous (remember Elina who then failed towards the end of the show!)

Kortnie! Though I like her name spelt Courtney more. Anyway she looks like a girly girl to me but she doesn't have a great pose - if any! However she works as a Non-Profit Organizer so that must say something about her personality right?

LONDON, no not where I live but the contestant London! Love the name! Anyway she seems ok but I don't like her portrait shot - it makes her look really short, seriously like 5 foot 3 short. Every cycle we seem to get a girl who has done more previous work than other girls e.g. Allison Cycle 10, Analeigh/Sheena Cycle 11. She seems more like an Allison but lets hope she can bring some of her experience to the shots unlike Allison.

Natalie doesn't really attract with her portrait shot - not too keen but every cycle I find someone's portrait shot awful but then end up liking them! Like Sheena Cycle 11 (more for the personality), Anya Cycle 10 etc.

Nijah, another exotic name, loving the names this year - very un ANTMey. I like her, though I'm not to keen on the portrait shot, I think I saw her on a photo in Brazil but I'm going to try not to predict as last season I got my head in a twist trying to predict the winner (even though it was so blatant in the end - too blatant for ANTM!)

Sandra looks cool - like her a lot! For some reason she makes me think of Naima cycle 4 - must be her hair. I'm not really seeing the Nnenna/Ambreal fusion people are talking about but I hope she won't be like Nnenna who dissapointed me so so much - Ambreal too, though I still like her!

Tahlia's portrait shot is probably the worst as her smile looks so tense and I don't like what she's wearing - but actually not many girls have impressed me with their portrait shot. I think I'll like her personality as she seems bubbly but slightly shy but I don't want to like her too much in case she leaves early!

Teyona looks good to me, though I'm hoping she has a nice personality because I can't really tell from her portrait shot.

I swear that two of the girls in the photo of Brazil are Jessica and Allison, but yet again I'm not going to predict, that much! Oh I just realised Tahlia was the girl who has burns all over her body - I feel so sorry for her but I know she won't go far as she's kind of a press attention for the show like Isis was last cycle. For some reason the girls remind me of the early ANTM girls rather than the recent ones. In the past cycles I judged the girls portrait shots but I won't anymore as I've learnt not to do that because they distort the figures of their actual performance in the show.
Can't wait until the 25th Feb - it will be 2 days before my b'day as well!

Sunday, 25 January 2009

Bad Day for Serbia

The loss of Ana Ivanovic in the third round has seemingly taken its toll on her fellow Serbians, the once mighty trio seems to have lost the plot! After the expected loss of Ivanovic came the 4th Round match up between Jelena Jankovic and Marion Bartoli. I doubt many would have predicted an upset, though we do have to remember Bartoli does at points find something in her to take out the top seeds - maybe this time Daniel Craig was sitting in the audience!
Well anyway Jankovic lost quite badly 6-1, 6-4; what's even worse was that the day before I'd actually labeled her as a finalist hopeful - but her loss has taken me back to earth - in that shes unlikely to win a Grand Slam this year. But's it's amazing to think how unpredictable this years Roland Garros will be - I'm expecting a final of Dinara Safina vs. a 1st time finalist in a Grand Slam; Dementieva could possibly swap for Safina or if Svetlana Kuznetsova plays better.

Novak Djokovic came out on a night session to play Marcos Baghdatis. I'd always labeled this match as something Djokovic needed to look out for; not that he would lose but a possible 5 setter could occur. The first set was terrible for Baghdatis but it eventually became extremely tight; the next two sets being a 6-7, 7-6 affair. Luckily Novak was able to end it at 4 sets or we could have seen his match last until 4am - anyone remember Lleyton Vs. Marcos which went until 4:30am!
Well remember yesterday when I wrote off Berdych as a threat, well what does he do against Federer - nearly toppling him over! I guess I can't write him off after that performance but imagine if he didn't choke towards the end; how amazing would it have been that Federer lost before the QF!
Well anyway besides Marin Cilic I got the 4 quatrefinalists in the bottom half of the draw right. Supposedly Del Potro was playing amazingly so hopefully we'll see a delayed shock of Federer losing before the semis instead. Novak is going to have a tough time against Andy Roddick but hopefully playing someone in the Top 10 would allow Djokovic to up his game.
Another little add on; currently it's possible for the Top 8 seeds all to make the quatrefinals - when was the last time that happened?
Oh and on the womens side it is so exciting because if Serena doesn't win the Grand Slam we would have a first time Grand Slam winner! Hopefully that would be either Safina or Dementieva because I wouldn't be able to imagine anyone else winning - though Serena all the way!

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Australian Open Week 1 Womens Review

On the womens side things may have been slightly more unpredictable with TWO non seeds in the 4th Round! And only TEN top 16 players! lol. But anyway my QF predictions have been less accurate here with Caroline Wozniacki, Agnieszka Radwanska and Venus Williams all losing before the 4th Round. This has left a gap of Jelena Dokic Vs. Alisa Kleybanova, Carla Suarez Navarro Vs. Anabel Medina Garrigues and Svetlana Kuznetsova Vs. Jie Zheng.
Remember my post about 4 British Women reaching the main draw, well when 3 of them lost in the first round I kind of wanted to bury my head in the sand but luckily Elena Baltacha managed to stop me from embarrasing myself - there's still hope for British Womens Tennis! Sadly however Maria Kirilenko lost to Sara Errani but at least she is still in the doubles with another of my favourite player Flavia Pennetta.
I guess the main shocks of the week were Venus Williams losing to Suarez Navarro and for me Agnieszka Radwanska losing to Kateryna Bondarenko (though Pennetta losing to Garrigues was another one of note because after Venus's departure I was betting on Pennetta for a QF match up against Dementieva).
Notice I haven't mentioned Ana Ivanovic, well I never expected her to reach far into the Slam, I still remember the days when I actually liked Ivanovic (because she was only ranked like 15 or something).
Well the 4th Round will see Jankovic Vs. Bartoli which I doubt Jankovic would lose in. Petrova will face Zvonareva - an interesting match I think. Dinara has an easier passage is she wanted to get to the semis; she'll play Cornet in the 4th and then either Dokic or Kleybanova in the QF - Australia must be ripping their hair out for Jelena Dokic!
Suarez Navarro will yet again play a Spaniard this time Medina Garrigues - a more difficult opponent I'd say. Though I think Elena should be fine in this environment (though she does have Dominka Cibulkova to play against next).
Svetlana, Jie Zheng and Victoria Azarenka are all sturdy players that are in Serena's draw - but anyway if the Top 4 don't make it into the Semis I think it would actually be a shock to me as I don't see any other possible semifinalists.

Australian Open Week 1 Mens Review

The Australian Open is already nearing the second week and the Round 16 lineup has been finalized. Sadly I haven't been able to watch many matches (the only whole match I was able to watch was actually the one that just finished a few minutes ago - Nadal/Haas).
Just a short recap; in the first section Dmitry Tursunov suffered an early defeat to Flavio Cipolla thereby paving an easier road for Tommy Haas. Gonzalez hasn't had it easy in the Aussies having to play Lleyton Hewitt on his home turf in the first round. He then had to face the experienced Guillermo Canas and had an extremely tough match against Rchard Gasquet - it must be his nightmare to see Nadal in his next match. Youzhny another one of my favourites lost early but in this section there were few shocks to the seeds (only Ancic beating Karlovic but that was always going to be a tough match).
In the second section Kei Nishikori lost to Melzer in 3 sets in the 3rd round. Not much else of note in the early rounds of Section 2 except for Dudi Sela beating 30th Seed Rainer Shuettler.
Skipping the third section, Bernard Tomic was able to make the 2nd round of the draw with a tough match against Potito Starace - the Australian's must have been happy. Though Feliciano Lopez was not as lucky; playing an awfully difficult last set against Gilles Muller - the deciding set went to 16-14.
A shock in bottom half of the draw; in the second round was probably Lu Yen Hsun of Taipei beating David Nalbandian - though most of us would have expected something unexpected from Nalbandian.
Coming into the 4th Round the Top 4 seem to be quite dominant over the main draw; though Djokovic has been taken to 4 sets; however that's Djokovic's game.
So where had my predictions of the QF lineup taken me?
In the 4th Round Nadal will play Gonzalez who will probably be little of a threat after playing two 5 set matches in the last three rounds. Therefore Nadal should cruise through to the QF's. Simon will play Monfils to set up the QF opponent for Nadal. I was predicting Monfils. Both have played well so it would be difficult to predict a winner here I think - though I'm expecting a 4 setter with Monfils winning.
Murray will play Verdasco but if Murray continues his form I don't see a problem with him getting through. Blake/Tsonga will be his QF opponent. Tsonga's supposed back injury hasn't seemed to affect his play so my earlier prediction of Blake reaching the QF may prove me wrong - though I'm still going to stick to my guns.
Roddick plays Tommy Robredo an underrated venom in the draw I think, we'll have to see what Roddick can produce. Baghdatis will play Djokovic which I'm probably the most worried about because the last time they met at a Grand Slam (Wimbledon 2007) it was a really tough 5 sets and if that was to continue then a possible match up against Roddick would be hell.
Del Potro will face Marin Cilic (by bet for a QF place). I don't know which way to go for this one so we'll just have to wait and see. Federer on the other hand has Berdych to contend with. I think I have past the days when I was hoping Berdych could upset Federer so I'm expecting very little from this match.
So till now all my Quatrefinalists are still in the draw - one match away from seeing how good my predictions were - though I have to say I've never been able to predict more than 6 of the finalists.
But I think this year has been easier to predict because if you look at the draw currently only 1 player is not a seed - 12 of the 4th Round players are seeded in the Top 16.

Friday, 23 January 2009

Young Guns

For the womens draw I predicted the possible quarterfinalists, out of those I chose two teen players Caroline Wozniacki and Agnieszka Radwanska, however both of them are now out - now I kno wnot to trust in the "young guns!"

Thursday, 22 January 2009

2009

Is it me or does the entertainment industry seem to be lounging around this year. I haven't really seen much from the music, movie, TV or gaming industry as such from Asia, Europe or America, hopefully February will rejuvenate the industry.

Venus Williams is Out

Oh NO! Venus lost to Spanish youngster Carla Suarez Navarro, supposedly she has a backhand Justine Henin would be proud of; I'll reserve judgment on that!

Monday, 19 January 2009

Brother Beat


All photos were taken from drama
My fascination with Hayami Mokomichi led me to one of his older series; Brother Beat. I was originally watching Regatta but because of some technical difficulties switched to Brother Beat. I found this a good drama with a few good relationships which brought the drama together however the series just doesn't feel complete to me. In all honesty I think out of the 5 series I watched of Mokomichi this one is probably the weakest however it does excel in certain aspects.

My favourite character and probably the person who stole the show for me was Kuninaka Ryoko.I found her character sweet and endearing whilst her performance was a gem - though personally I liked the Chisato (Ryoko's character) earlier episodes I found the growth of her character believable and interesting to watch.

I found myself developing a love hate relationship with Tamayama Tetsuji's character Sakurai Tatsuya because of the many times he hurt Chisato's feelings but yet how caring he was to his younger brothers (though at times implemented in the wrong way). I think Tetsuji did well for his debut as the main lead and hopefully I'll see better performances by him in the following dramas.

Now onto Mokomichi's character. His character development was strong at the start but it seemed to languish towards the end. His character annoyed me a lot but yet you couldn't dislike him for some reason. I think Mokomichi portrayed the character well but it is evident that he is a better actor now; still it was a good performance by him. It was sad to see that Ai and Riku's story was shoved aside in order to develop Chisato and Tatsuya's because I really wanted to see them together more (even though I love ChisatoxTatsuya!)

Sakurai Junpei the youngest brother was played by Nakao Akiyoshi. I found his character a good supporting to the others, his caring nature made him a likeable character yet his outbursts added depth. I didn't really believe his sudden love interests though, yeah he maybe a young guy but it seems like he falls in love quite easily.



Namase Katuhisa played Noguchi Hideki. I was really annoyed with Katuhisa's character in Gokusen 2 but in Brother Beat I found him a vital role. I didn't really realize how important his character was until he left because their just seemed to be a void in the story after he left. It's so sad that he had other things to do whilst filming Brother Beat or we may have seen the boss with Haru (the mother)!


Tanaka Misako was the mother of the three, I think her character was OK but I thought she would be more outrageous of a character to be honest. Her antics were amusing and it's nice to see a different type of motherly character but I thought once Hideki had left her plot seemed to thin out and it seemed like she was becoming more and more of a supporting cast than a lead.


The Obstinate father (Chisato's father). I absolutely despised this character even if he developed to become a nice character. I just got really annoyed with his ignorance and outdated thinking. I'm so happy his character was only seen as much as he was because I would have got so annoyed with him that I would probably throw a slipper at my computer screen!


Oh also of note; the child actor that played Riku was also supposedly the child actor that played
the young Masaya Nakagawa in Tokyo Tower - personally I didn't realise it until I found out of the internet!

I think I found the love relationships more interesting than the brotherly relationships in the series which may have defied the point of the series slightly. I would really have wanted to see Ai and Riku more as well as Chisato and Tatsuya. I think the story could have been more sweet at times because I'm not sure how to sum this series up; it seemed to dabble in many genres and styles but it never developed on either one. I think the story should have had more scenes of the three brother alone also because those were far and few between - I mean without Haru.
The ending was also not very inspiring. From the Jdramas I have watched already Tokyo Tower had an emotional ending; but kind of a release, Zettai Kareshi was very emotional, Oh! My Girl! was sweet and suscint. But in Brother Beat and similarly in Gokusen 2 I found the ending uninteresting and kind of what you expected since the beginning anyway - though I didn't want it to end like that. the person that stole my heart in this drama was Chisato because of her innocence making her other emotions all the more sweeter.
Overall the acting was good, the characters were good, the relationships were good but the story overall was average. I'd give this drama a 7.5 (out of 10), something you could try if you have time.

Gladiators UK

When I was young I remember watching Gladiators with my brother, the two things I remember the most were lighting and jet doing the rings (though I liked Jet much more!) and Wolf being his bad self. So when I heard that Gladiators was being redone by Sky I was so excited. I liked the 1st season a lot; I loved Tempest, Spartan, Tornado and Panther. Enigma, inferno, Oblivion, atlas and battleaxe weren't all that bad either, lol.
However I only realized the new season was on when I saw Goliath on The Sunday Night Project. I rushed to find the new gladiators series and here are my thoughts.



Amazon looks like a true queen in her photos and I'm anticipating see her in the events.
I liked the look of Goliath when I saw him on the Sunday Night Project and hopefully he'll be a great competitor also.
Siren seems awesome to me, from what I've seen and read she is possibly my favourite new gladiator, wonder what dynamic she'll bring in the show.

The other 3 I'm less excited about. Warrior seems to be OK but I'm not to keen on his over grown facial hair! Doom just seems like a replacement for Destroyer who I didn't really like anyway and I've seen Cyclone before anyway.
All in all I'm really excited about this new series, definitely going to watch what I've missed already!

Tempest and Spartan

Sunday, 18 January 2009

4 British Women in Australian Open Main Draw

Melanie South, Katie O'Brien, Elena Baltacha and Anne Keothavong have all made the Australian main draw, it's the time 4 British players were in a Grand Slam main draw since 1992! This is such good news but knowing Britain it'll probably only grace a corner section of a local newspaper.
South will face Bartoli first so sadly I think she is slightly "doomed". O'Brien has Monica Niculescu to compete with, her highest ranking was No.47 but she hasn't really made an impact at the Aussies. As I said before Keothavong has Chakvetadze, there could possibly be an upset. Whilst Baltacha has Anna Lena Groenefeld which will be a difficult opponent.

MCI Final Part 3

No.20 Seattle: Jiang Ni
Another shock of the night was Jiang Ni, I’m so sorry I lost faith in her early on. But anyway she was a strong contestant and I expected her to reach the Top 8 and then the Top 5. I personally placed her 2nd out of the Top 5 and actually only 0.02 away from my winner (tell you when I get to her – only Tubingen, Vancouver and Toronto to go!). I was so annoyed when she didn’t get a top 3 and SKYE did. I actually thought she would get a Top 3 spot because she talked about the Sichuan earthquake and looked very classy throughout the night and it seemed liked the judges liked her talent too. I wonder where she lost marks.

No.21 Singapore: Valentane Huang
She wasn’t eloquent and her looks were around average – at points below. I would never expect her to make the Top 8 because she isn’t a pageant girl.

No.22 Sydney: Yuki Wang
Sadly I have no memory of her in the pageant!

No.23 Tahiti: Asia Hiou-Hamill
I liked her, she’s totally underhyped. She looks pretty and had a good swimsuit round, the only thing she lacked was her eloquence if not she would have been a sure fire Top 8 for me. But she doesn’t look Chinese enough for MCI to place her.

No.24 Toronto: Christine Kuo
I almost wanted to cry when she won; not because of emotions really but in a way how predictable it was. She was the crowd favourite, popular with netizens, popular with the hosts and they kept talking about how she was the favourite. In the end I actually wanted a shock even though I placed her No.1 in my rankings as well! She was calm and composed – if not too composed, had the look of an angel and was overall a strong contestant. The controversial part of the night surrounding Toronto was how rude Eric Tsang was to her talent. He was obviously in love with Skye Chan and basically tried to destroy everyone else’s talent – it’s so rude to speak halfway in someones performance and then go ridicule it for being boring – Ok it was slightly long but have some respect! Anyway lets rewind back more than a decade, do you remember the last MCI winner from Toronto; Monica Lo, also played the flute as her talent – let’s go back to the good old days when the Top 3 were actually well deserved.

No.25 Tubingen: Julie Lam
One of the faces of the pageant and I definitely think she deserved her Miss Young award because she was sweet/cute and at times vibrant (let me emphasize on the AT TIMES). I was always worried that Julie would be a slightly clueless in Chinese girl; all my worries were fulfilled – she was. Her conversational skills weren’t the best of the group and I found it amazing when the judges put her through each and every round as I never expect MCI to pick girls like her (even though I do), I guess her looks lead her through most rounds – her swimsuit was also fantastic – the best of the night I’d say. However her downfall besides the Chinese was at times she looked bored and sometimes did not have the composure needed for a pageant winner. I think if she had gone into the pageant at 24 or 25 she would have matured a bit more but at the moment she just seemed a bit too girly and not yet a woman.

No.26 Vancouver: Cici Chen
Honestly what was Eric’s fascination with her name! erghhhh. Anyway Vancouver was a likeable contestant and very sweet, though I didn’t really like her talent. It seems nowadays what MCI does is choose the girl with the most personality or possible TVB contract girl as 2nd runner up and then Miss Hong Kong or a composed/ slightly quiet girl as 1st Runner Up. But anyway Cici was a strong candidate who I placed in my Top 8. For me Tubingen, Seattle and her were the three fighting for the other two spots (No.1 having been taken by Christine) sadly in the end she lost out a placed 4th for me even though she was ranked the highest out of the three going into the Top 5. But anyway I’m very happy for her getting third as I wouldn’t be able to stand her placing any higher!

No.27 Wuhan: Xu Li
She was an OK contestant but her cold exterior and in my opinion rudeness didn’t get her anywhere for me.

No.28 Zhengzhou: Han Xiaoling
Though I thought she performed above expectation for me I still didn’t think she deserved a Top 8 spot. Her conversation with the 4 hosts/guest hosts was definitely what killed her because she just couldn’t reply to the question unlike Cici who I thought would buckle under the pressure but then turned it around to make the round her own. You just need to be on your feet and witty when against these types of questions.

The show was also much better than MCI07 and 08 PUT TOGETHER! They finally make a decent show in Foshan; but just when the public lost faith in it! Oceane was extremely beautiful on the night even with her new haircut – I’d thought she would lose her edge without the trendy hairstyle she had last year. Wasn’t to keen on the performances by Bosco and Ron though – they looked like fools! Also the night was full of rudeness – the distasteful Michael Jackson joke made by an MC, this was how it kind of went:
MC: So Kuala Lumpur (Kelly Tham) you like Michael Jackson.
KL: Yeah (forgotten the rest)
MC: So do you like children!
KL: (Forces a smile)

Then there was the Christine incident by Eric Tsang aswell as Eric Tsang blanking the judges not in TVB. Also there were a few contestants who I thought were slightly rude and not graceful.

My Top 8 would have been: New York, Beijing, Vancouver, Tubingen, Toronto, Seattle, Jilin, Melbourne (possible alternates San Francisco, Nanjing, Montreal)

Well I only got 3 out of 8 – told you I was bad at this! But I did get two out of 5 for my Top 5 and two out of 5 for Top 3!

MCI Final Part 2

No.10 Hong Kong: Skye Chan
ARGH! WHY WHY WHY TVB TVB TVB! YOU’VE DONE IT AGAIN – GIVE HONG KONG THE 1st RUNNER UP WHEN THEY DON’T DESERVE IT! I was slightly annoyed when they put her into the Top 8 let alone when she got 1st runner up! Her look definitely improved since Miss Hong Kong – I’d say the change in hairstyle helped her leaps and bounds, but that was it. They say she has good conversational skills but I totally missed that, she showed some charm but besides being a Hong Kong contestant what other attributes did she have in order to place in the Top 3! Her talent was average and the one thing the judges continually say she does well is her convo skills; but they’re lacking too. I bet she scored a place because Susanna Kwan loved her singing! TOTALLY ANNOYED!

No.11 Jilin: Liu Mo YiYang
She represented a fashionable young Chinese woman to me, her conversational skills weren’t all that bad either. I found her swimsuit round to be strong but the judges only scored her averagely. I’d definitely have given her a Top 8 placing but I knew TVB would never do that.

No.12 Kuala Lumpur: Kelly Tham
Every time I see her look goes down slightly. I thought she was photogenic in Miss Astro but in MCI she looked average and just didn’t shine. But it doesn’t matter because MCI just don’t like Malaysian representatives anymore.

No.13 Macau: Florence Loi
Her hairstylist was on drugs – how could someone deem that hairstyle as good! She could have done well but I think the stylist totally destroyed her, if not she may have been able to place as an alternate in my Top 10 list.

No.14 Manila: Hui Ming Ming
Overall not too impressed, she also seemed lost! Her swimsuit round was stronger though.

No.15 Melbourne: Skye Chu
She looked one of the best of the night – on par with Vicki and Christine I’d say. She had that quiet class to her which I loved, but her slightly cold personality probably lost her the judges votes but I would have definitely put her into the Top 8. She’s definitely better than the other girl called SKYE!

No.16 Montreal: Luciano Hurtado
To me she didn’t seem as photogenic as I thought she would be. However I liked her bubbly and all accepting attitude to the competition and I’d definitely put her as an alternative to the Top 8.

No.17 Nanjing: Yang Xiaolei
Her conversational skills were average and I’d say her look is about mid pack but for some reason she managed to place 11th in my scoring. I was totally shocked when the judges gave her 40 (a high score) for her swimsuit round and even more shocked that giving her such a high score that she still didn’t reach the Top 8!

No.18 New York: Vicki Pon
Totally gobsmacked that she didn’t make the Top 8. She was sweet, beautiful, TALL, great smile, likeable and just a good representative. It would have been great to see New York do well because they have just failed in the previous years. I do have to say she didn’t look as beautiful as the pictures but still enough to be a Top 5 in the looks category! I guess Hong Kong just don’t like New York representatives because of Michelle Ye winner of 1999; basically because she stitched TVB up and went to their archrivals ATV and then basically stuck two fingers at them and said I don’t need you to be famous! She’s probably one of the most famous MCI’s in the past 10 years – I’d say only Michelle Reis and Chirsty Chung are more famous than her (Bernice, Sonija and Linda are only TVB/Hong Kong famous but Michelle is Movie/China famous!). And actually looking at the ages of the Top 5 they probably didn’t like the fact she was 19 (because the judges were all so old! Lol) Just found out two of the prettiest girls in the pageant (New York and Toronto are of Taiwanese heritage! Vicki doesn’t look Taiwanese to me though) I wonder if the heritage of all the winners were shown would there be a correlation.

No.19. San Francisco: Louisa Liu
She was a strong candidate and I was shocked when she didn’t make the Top 8. She held herself well in both rounds and I thought she had good presence. Her look and her swimsuit round were also strong. Personally I put her in my Top 8. But I expected to get a few from as normally when I score contestants at MCI only about half the contestants going through correlate with my own scores.

MCI Final Part 1

I just finished watching MCI and I thought the results were mixed as usual, some utter shocks and some totally predictable. Firstly I’ll go through each girl.

No.1 Auckland: Yenyi Lee
She was one of the more photogenic candidates and had a likeable personality – her command of Cantonese was good but I found her eloquence to be average. Her Top 8 place was not shocking to me but personally I wouldn’t have placed her in the Top 8. But in the Top 8 she did show charm and continued to look pretty.

No.2 Beijing: Dong Yiyun
She was the shock of the night; before the pageant I had totally ruled her out besides noting her possible eloquence due to her TV presenting. On the night she shined and sparkled – she was much more photogenic, showed good taste, had eloquence and everything else. She performed 110% so I was totally annoyed when she didn’t make the Top 5 whilst other less deserving candidates did – I’ll reveal later!

No.3 Chicago: Nancy Kwong
On the night she didn’t sparkle, her speeches were fake and too rehearsed and she just didn’t stand out.

No.4 Chongqing: Liu Sitong
At times I found her pretty at times I thought she had a way to go, but overall she did well. To me she was a good contestant but it wasn’t enough.

No.5 Foshan: Yang Yun
She had charisma and was well spoken, her look was OK but she didn’t have the overall presence to wow the judges.

No.6 Guangdong: Liu Jiaxuan
Generally OK, not a standout though and because of that I have very little to comment on her.

No.7 Hangzhou: Guo Yuliang
It was great to see that she coped so well in a pageant that is normally very inexperienced in contestants that don’t speak a form of Chinese, she was likeable but in the end she faded like most other contestants did.

No.8 Harbin: Zhang Yehan
The judges gave her such a harsh score for her Swimsuit round! But anyway she was a good contestant and if there was a Top 12 I’d put her in.

No.9 Heilongjiang: Zhang Xiuxiu
In the end I found her the weakest contestant of the pack. Her looks were average, her style and presence were average, her eloquence was below par; everything just cumulated into a less than impressive showing.

Friday, 16 January 2009

Australian Open Women's Draw

Jankovic has Zvonareva keeping her company. Closer to home Ai Sugiyama could be her first worry but I think Jankovic should be able to fly past her. Melanie South's first opponent is Marion Bartoli; though I hope Bartoli was ousted by her I doubt that would happen, instead it looks like Bartoli will play Jankovic unless Lucie Safarova or Sybille Bammer have anything to say about that. But Safarova does seem to be playing better - but I doubt she'll do as well as she did in her "heyday".
Nadia seems to have lost her touch coming into 2009 whilst Agnes Szavay lost that ages ago so I'm not sure who would win out from their mini section. I guess Petrova would be a safer bet. Vera did do well at the Year Ending but I'm not sure if she'll be able to continue that into the Australian Open. I do hope Maria Kirilenko could perform.
Dinara will have Ana as company which basically solidifies my prediction that Jelena will be in the final. Though Dinara hasn't had a great record at the Aussies I don't think any shocks would occur before she reaches the quarters (though if Hantuchova is in form she could be a problem for any of these players; but I doubt she's in form). I do hope Anne Keothavong could do some damage as Anna Chakvetadze hasn't been doing well recently. Jelena Dokic would also be interesting to watch. Wozniacki Vs. Ivanovic could be interesting as they played each other last year - but Ivanovic is in way worse a form than last year round. Alisa Kleybanova could also be a one to watch in this draw.
Venus Williams and Elena Dementieva fill the next section. I think Elena is on too hot a form not to reach the quarters - but I have a feeling that she'll run out of gas if she were to face Venus Williams. But before that could happen we need to see the draw in between them. Personally I don't see any problem with Venus reaching the quarters (though I do hope Flavia could cause a shock!)
Whilst on Elena's side I absolutely don't see any possible shocks giving her current form but I guess Iveta Benesova maybe someone to watch out for.
Svetlana and Serena Williams make up the last quarter. Hopefully Nicole could do well in this draw as yet again I think she has a relatively easy one; until she reaches Svetlana Kuznetsova that is (4-0 match record isn't going to help). I'm expecting this part of the draw to be dominated by Agnieszka Radwanska though.
Mauresmo and Azarenka could be interesting - though Mauresmo has Olga Govortsova and Anna-Lena Groenefeld (most likely) to pass before a possible meet up with Azarenka. If Mauresmo does beat them all I doubt she'll have enough steam to see off Serena Williams who I think should fly past her draw - I'm only expecting a Top 10 seed to beat Serena here; though I do wish Dulko to do well.

Predicted Quarterfinal line up
Jelena Jankovic Vs. Vera Zvonareva (Just because I don't think anyone else in the draw is capable of getting to the quarters)
Dinara Safina Vs. Caroline Wozniacki
Venus Williams Vs. Elena Dementieva
Agnieszka Radwanksa Vs. Serena Williams

Australian Open Men's Draw

Rafael Nadal and Gilles Simon are the two Top 8 seeds in the first quarter. I personally don't expect Simon to be a quarterfinalist so that spot is up for the taking. Gael Monfils could fill his place as I don't see anyone else taking it. If Youzhny was in form I would expect him to take the spot but I'm not too sure about his current form. I'd love to see Ancic have a shot but I'm not sure he is capable of making the quarters. Therefore Monfils is my bet for the Quarters; it would also be interesting to see if he could beat Nadal again like at Qatar.
Going back to Nadal's side I'm excited to see Tommy Haas in the draw and I also hope Gasquet and Tursunov do well. I do think Gasquet has a chance to reach the 4th round (like the previous 2 years) I think in his section Lleyton Hewitt maybe the biggest problem but besides that he should be fine.
Andy Murray is in the second section; so my finals prediction is Murray Vs. Federer (which could mean a first Murray slam!)He has an unbelievably easy section of the draw; I personally don't see any possible shocks for him to get to the QF's, but I do hope Nishikori can perform well though.
Tsonga is on the other side but he supposedly has injury woes; hopefully Juan Monaco can capitalize on that. Personally though I'd say besides Blake and Tsonga I don't see any other alternates for the QF spot. If Tsonga is in trouble then I'd go with Blake because he's normally been a sturdy player at the Australian Open.
Djokovic probably has the hardest of the ranked 5th to 8th player to tackle if he was to make it into the semis; this being Andy Roddick. Well lets look at Roddick's draw before we say anything. He was shocked last year by Kohlschreiber but I don't see that happening again.
I am increasingly worried about Djokovic as he's lost twice this season already and to relatively lower ranked players. But to be honest I really don't see anyone Djokovic should lose to - I think Mathieu could be a difficult challenge but besides that I would be shocked if he doesn't make the QF because Djokovic always fights for his spot at Grand Slams.
Juan Martin Del Potro and Roger Federer fill the last quarter. I think Del Potro should be fine until the 4th round though I do hope Bernard Tomic and Feliciano Lopez could do well. On the other side Marin Cilic I think will definitely play David Ferrer. Though Ferrer is a solid Australian open player I think Cilic may edge him out on this one.
Federer does have Safin in his draw and I would LOVE to see a shock because it's Safin's last year. Besides that the draw should be quite simple for Federer.

Expected Quarterfinal Lineup
Nadal Vs. Monfils
Murray Vs. Blake
Roddick Vs. Djokovic
Cilic Vs. Federer (just for some variation of top 16 seeds)
I'm slightly worried about my predictions because they are all relatively high seeds and there are always shocks.

Elena Dementieva

Two weeks, two titles, next stop: Australian Open. Will she win that too? Beating Serena and Dinara is not easy feat so I she really has risen her chances here. I said a QF spot for her in my last post but now I may bump her up to a Semis spot, however I haven't seen the draw yet (going to look at that now) so you never know what could happen.

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Utada Hikaru - Come Back to Me

I'm late on this but I didn't listen to it until two days ago. My first impression was, wow this is not like Asian music; which I thought BoA's Eat You Up is very reminiscent of. I actually liked this song maybe because Utada is fluent in English so it doesn't sound awkward. It's a good solid song by Utada which should receive praise because it's very Utada but also fits into the American market. However I think Utada isn't getting enough coverage like her Asian counterparts Se7en, Rain and BoA, we do have to remember how Exodus didn't even make it into the Billboard Top 100 - Island records definitely need to work around this. But anyway Come back to Me has a nice tune and has a smooth rhythm. The only complaint is that I think at times it tries to do too much at once making it sound a little too conpact however you'll barely realize that time past when you listen to the 3 minutes and 57 seconds of Come back to Me. Definitely a contender for a Top 20 Asian songs spot for my Best of 2009, though it's only January!

Miss Chinese International 2009 Final Preview

With the finals only 2 days away I don't see any foreseeable new news to be released so I'm going to decide on my final favourites.
Before I go on I'm really annoyed that TVB has yet again chosen 3 actors/actresses as judges; this time being Gallen Lo, Kevin Cheng and Susanna Kwan. They should instill more variation - but I guess holding it at Foshan not many Hong Kong stars would be willing to take the journey.
There is also only going to be a Top 8 and a Top 5 supposedly which means 20 contestants will be eliminated in the first part! I'm hoping they decrease the random dancing and put in some meaningful Q&A rounds and some good catwalk sections - a talent round for all 28 would also be good!
Well I've been follow the Chinese Pageant Page recently and from 1 week of voting the results show that New York's Vicki Pon is the favourite with a score of 1490 (though I don't know how it's scored). Toronto's Christine Kuo took second with 1165 whilst a shock third was Manila's Beatrix Co with 984 (on the 13th she received 754points! a little suspicious there). 4th was Tubingen's Julie Lam with only 441 and 5th was Hong Kong's Skye Chu with 433.
Jilin, San Francisco, Kuala Lumpur and Vancouver all past the 200 mark whilst Nanjing would have rounded out the Top 10.
The results on average are Ok I'd say. But sadly I promotion for MCI seems to be dwindling that even my cousin who lives in Hong Kong said he barely knew about it because of the lack of promotion. This year has a strong bunch of girls so I'm dissapointed TVB puts so little effort. The show should be brought back to Hong Kong and there should be more photo shoots/events to allow foreign Chinese to see what is going on. But anyway lets get back to the girls.
I have to say in the previous years my favourites have never really made it to the Top so I'm slightly worried for Vicki Pon as Christine seems to be the favourite. Anyway here are my favourites as of now.





Yep not much change since my last post but I have to say I clearly have a favourite three - New York/Toronto/Tubingen; whilst Jilin is a close 4th. Then is gets slightly shady. I continued to put Montreal at 5th but there are some girls which have really climbed the ranks since my last judging.

My 6th to 10th
Melbourne
Auckland
San Francisco
Nanjing
Hong Kong
(If you want to see these 5 girls go to
http://www.geocities.com/chinesepageantpage/
Melbourne has really grown on me for some reason - I think it is because of the classy official portrait. She was always one of my maybes but when my Dad pointed her out as one of his favourites I suddenly took a much bigger liking towards her.
Auckland has steadily climbed the ranks for me. She has a sweet look to her (but I kind of think I like her more because she nearly got 0 points in the vote; gaining my sympathy!)
San Francisco is next because I think she hasn't grown on me; instead I think I like her less. When I first saw her photos I put her in my Top 6 but now she's only in my Top 8.
Nanjing hasn't really increased or decreased in terms of me liking her - so I think whatever happens she'll still be in the lower part of my Top 10.
Hong Kong is at tenth because of her official portrait I think which made me remember how her photos looked at Miss Hong Kong. I'm so dissapointed with Edelweiss for not competing but I think Skye is probably a stronger all round performer than Edelweiss is because Edelweiss only has the heights and decent looks.

If I were to rank the rest I'd go with...
Kuala Lumpur: Her look and composure (if not too composed) at Astro was enough to secure her 11th even though I'm not loving her look now.
Vancouver: She has a sweet look to her and is a possible Top 10 alternative for me.
Macau: Seeing her on video at Miss International again allowed me to see how she could look; even though she hasn't been photogenic in MCI in my opinion. Though she is very composed.
Chongqing: Her modernness may give her an advantage (quite modern for a mainland chinese girl) like Oceane did. Waiting to see her on film.
Tahiti: She is actually more photogenic than I thought - but yet again I don't think she'll do well at MCI.
Seattle: I've lost my initial liking of her for some reason.
Hangzhou: I'm still fascinated with how she'll fare in MCI.
Guangdong: She has grown on me for some reason. I really like her official portrait also.
Harbin: I know she can be photogenic even though she isn't showing it at MCI.
Foshan: I've also lost my slightly liking for her also.
Wuhan: She's OK but yet again she is easily forgettable.
Manila: I think what makes me remember her is that she got third place on the pole!
Sydney: Don't have much to say on her
Heilongjiang: Lost my interest in her for some reason.
Beijing: Slowly climbing but not enough exposure
Chicago: Just a bit awkward in the photos
Singapore: Never really liked her look
Zhengzhou: No Comment

Well with my Top 8 being New York, Toronto, Tubigen, Jilin, Montreal, Melbourne, Auckland and San Francisco I was wondering who I thought would actually make the Top 8 cut.
New York: She's too much of a stunner not to make the Top 8. New York has not been in contention for a long time so I think she has a chance to reinstall some pride for the Americans
Toronto: Too much of a favourite not to at least make the Top 8. She has the looks and the poise so I doubt she'll be barred from the Top 5.
Tubigen: In my opinion I think she'll be an unsure alternative. I think she may get into the Top 8 but also could have been one that just missed it. I just think she will only reach the Top 8 for some reason
Jilin: Similarly I think Jilin is on the verge of a Top 8 spot, her look could get her somewhere but I have a feeling MCI will bar her from making the Top 8.
Montreal: BARRED: I just don't think MCI will appreciated Montreal and instead miss her from the Top 8.
Melbourne: Possible Top 8, she has a classic look that I think the judges (all being quite old) will like. I'm expecting her to do Ok on the night so a Top 8 is possible.
Auckland: BARRED: I just have this feeling that Auckland won't make it - probably because she is No.1 and because she doesn't stand out as much.
San Francisco: I'm not sure with San Francisco. I think a Top 8 is possible but yet again she could lose out.

Here are my thoughts on some of the other girls:
Heilongjiang: I don't know why but I think she could make the cut. I doubt MCI wouldn't have at least 2 mainland Chinese girls in the Top 8 (especially since 2 judges will be from China and Susanna and Gallen are also judges.
Hong Kong: She'll definitely make it to the Top 5, not only is she from Hong Kong but she's also favored by TVB a lot. I'll be shocked if she doesn't make the Top 5 at least because I'm sure they'll give her a Top 3 status.
Kuala Lumpur: In any other similar pageant she'd probably make the Top 10 but MCI don't seem to like girls from Kuala Lumpur unless they are full of energy (seeing how Novel was not even considered last year).
Macau: They could possibly put her through just because she is the first Miss Macau in a long time.
Nanjing: She'd probably be a mainland chinese girl to represent China in the Top 8.
Vancouver: I don't know why but I think Vancouver has a shot at the Top 8.

New York, Toronto, Tubigen, Melbourne, San Francisco, Heilongjiang, Hong Kong, Nanjing
The 8 above are who I think MCI will make the Top 8 - though I'm not normally that good at predicting what MCI does. There are a few alternatives I can see MCI doing but I'll have to wait and see what MCI does.

Australian Open Predictions (Women's)



Well now onto the woman's draw.
Jelena Jankovic will be the No.1 seed here. She is definitely a force in tennis currently - a Lindsay Davenport of her time; someone we'd expect to be in the latter stages of most tournaments, however when it comes to Grand Slams I'm not sure if she will prevail especially in the Australian Open. Most of the time I find that there's always somebody better in the tournament than Jankovic; therefore I always think she will only make the semis or finals. This year I have a similar feeling. I'm just not sure the Australian will be hers - I think she has a better shot at Roland Garros or the US.
Expected Appearance: Semifinals

Serena Williams has always been a strong competitor at the Australian Open and with 2008 being one of her best years I think it is plausible that Serena will be in the latter stages of the event. Lets remember that Serena took this title in 03,05 and 07. If history were to repeat itself 09 would be her next title! But one thing does worry me; since her debut she hasn't been in this many Grand Slams consecutively - this would be her 10th consecutive Grand Slam - yes she maybe a pro but I do have a bad omen on something like this. I do however think she is the one to beat.
Expected Appearance: Semifinals/Finals

Dinara Safina has never been a force at the Australian Open but she only rose to prominence after the Australian 08 tournament. However she does seem more comfortable at Roland Garros and the US. She's not yet an all court player and I think the Australian maybe one of her downfalls. However she hasn't seem to fail us in many hardcourts appearances so lets just sit and watch.
Expected Appearance: Quarterfinals

Elena Dementieva had similar circumstances to Dinara in that she only seemed to hot up after the Australian 08. I think last year was one of her most consistent years (remember 04 when she achieved 1st round, finals, 1st round, finals at the 4 grand slams. I think Elena is on her best form currently.
Expected Appearance: Quarterfinals

Ana Ivanovic reached the Finals last year with a mix of form and a good draw. She however deteriorated towards the end of last year. She also recently lost to Amelie Mauresmo (she's not what she used to be). I think Ana will find it difficult to make an impact here as I only think Roland Garros is suited to her. She doesn't have the form she had during mid 07 towards mid 08.
Expected Appearance: 4th Round/ chance of reaching Quarterfinals

Venus hasn't played since last year so I'm unsure of her form. If it was Wimbledon we could always expect her to put on a show but as it is the Australian open I don't know what to expect. Anyway I looked at the last 5 years of her Grand Slam achievements and it was interesting to see that when Venus reached the QF's of Roland Garros she losses out early in Wimbledon but when she only reaches the third round of Roland Garros she wins Wimbledon; guess you can't have it all!
Expected Appearance: Possibly Quarterfinals?

Vera Zvonareva: not expecting too much from her as she never seems to do that well in Grand Slams.
Expected Appearance: Third Round

Svetlana Kuznetsova seems to be dwindling - and at the age of 23 that is not a good sign as 23 should be your glory days. The Australian Open is probably her weakest Slam so I don't know think she'll make it far.
Expected Appearance: If Unlucky Second Round, Most likely Third Round

Sadly the reigning champion Maria Sharapova has withdrawn because the Australian was one of her most consistent Slams. I'm finding it difficult to accept that Sharapova is out of main contention currently because I began to like her in 2007. I am dissapointed that many of the former Top 5 players have vanished but hopefully Sharapova will give us a good Wimbledon showing.

Other players of note:
Agnieszka Radwanksa - A Strong contender for a Quarterfinal spot; could be the one to defeat the weaker of the Top 8 players.
Nadia Petrova - She had a good end of Season last year but she may have declined back this year with her latest performance. However I'll still watch out for her.
Victoria Azarenka is quickly becoming one of my liked teen players and I think she could possibly upset one of the Top 8.
Amelie Mauresmo - could shock one or two of the Top 8 before maybe losing unceremoniously to a weaker player!
Yet again there are other players of note but it would take to long to list them all - however I do find that WTA has less variation in the quarterfinals than ATP most Quarterfinalists normally are in the Top 20.

Oh my God just realized Anne Keothavong is only 2 ranks behind Nicole Vaidisova!

Australian Open Predictions (Mens)


Photo taken from the NY Times

With the Australian Open main draws tomorrow I thought I'd talk about a of the players beforehand.
On the mens side Rafael Nadal will continue as the No.1 seed. In the 4 years he has played in the Australian open each year he goes one stage further into the tournament than the last; last year having reached the semifinals. Could he possibly reach the finals this year? It's not impossible - with a good draw he could possibly even win it all - it really depends on how the draw works out for him but currently I think there are other players more likely to win than him - and out of the Top 4 his chances seem to be the worst.
For me though I'm expecting a Quarterfinal/Semifinal appearance from him.

Roger Federer use to dominate this scene but I doubt he will dominate this year - with 3 consecutive tournament defeats from Andy Murray I honestly doubt he will be considered a favourite - if Andy Murray was to be in his draw it would be interesting to see if Federer could step his game up.
I'm expecting a semifinal/final appearance from Federer but does anyone remember how tense his 3rd Round match was against Tipsarevic - so I'm not discounting a shock early exit.

It's amazing to see how Djokovic has developed in the past year or so, early 2007 we were still calling him a potentially great player but 2 years on he has fledged to become a possible No.1 candidate. His forages in the Australian Open were dismal before 2008, with his best performance being a 4th round exit to Federer; last year he was in form and the likes of Nadal and Federer were just not ready to take the title. This year however Nadal has stepped his game up and Murray has also become a potential titlist so I wonder if Djokovic will have his way again. He is a great player but at times he can still be unpredictable.
I'm expecting a Semifinal/final appearance.

Andy Murray is probably the hope of Britain for 2009; he's expected to produce some amazing results in tennis but lets step back to the real world for the minute. Yes Murray is undoubtedly continuing his great form from last year but lets look at his record in the Australian Open; he's never reached the Quarterfinal stages, now call me a party wrecker but I'm slightly doubtful that Murray could win the whole tournament despite having such a weak record for a Top 5 player. It would definitely be the fairytale come true after losing in the 1st round last year. I do think he is more mature and plays much better now but I have an inevitable feeling that something will happen to Murray which will set him back a few steps. We all remember how we thought Murray had a promising chance in the Australian Open last year but then lost in the 1st round; so will something similar happen again? He is still a favourite but I'm not going to put money just yet on him winning the title.
Very Varied expectations from him but Quarterfinal appearance at the least. Possible finalist.

So now we've gone through the top 4 lets look at the players trying to cause a shock. Jo -Wilfred Tsonga is likely the 5th seed of the tournament. His run last year was nothing but amazing however he didn't seem to get a move on until late last year. I doubt he will be able to emulate his performance but being a Top 8 seed will definitely help him in the draw.
Expecting a 4th Round/Quarterfinal appearance - if he is given a good draw maybe even a semifinal appearance

Gilles Simon is a top 10 player who you wouldn't be amazed if he suddenly became a Top 20 player. He still hasn't had the achievements to catapult him as a favourite in any main draw. However he did have a good year in 2008 getting to the latter stages in quite a few tournaments and etching a few wins here and there; however like most players he was a later riser also. I wouldn't doubt his chances of doing well in this tournament but come the big guns I doubt he'll be able to survive. He also doesn't have that good a record in the Australian Open.
4th Round appearance, possible Quarterfinal

Andy Roddick seems to have lost his touch to keep in the Top 5 and to be honest I believe is is only going to get worse from here on. He had a good few tournaments last year and also got to the finals in Doha. However like many players his nemesis not only comes in the name of Federer but also recently, Murray. He left last year in the 3rd Round so I really don't know what to expect from him. I just hope he gets a draw which he can contend with a maybe cause a shock in the Top 4.
Expected to see him at least in Round 4 with a Quarterfinal appearance also possible.

Juan Martin Del Potro will probably be the 8th seed looking at the current rankings but I doubt he'll make it far in the Australian Open.
Expecting a third round or possibly 4th Round appearance

Other players of note:
David Ferrer maybe the possible link to one of the Top 8 being dismantled.
Marin Cilic had a good run to the 4th Round last year; with a good draw he could topple off a Top 8 player.
Richard Gasquet, its been quite a long time since we saw Gasquet below the Top 20 but maybe this will ease some of the pressure off him. He's had a steady two years in the Australian open so he could cause an upset.
Marat Safin; remember when he use to be a favourite of the Australian Open, winning in 2005 and having played in 2 finals beforehand. Well this year is supposedly his last so maybe we could expect a stellar performance from him!

There are also a few other potentials but I don't want to blog it down too much as I've written a lot already.

Monday, 12 January 2009

WTA January 12th Update

Melanie South is through to Round 2! Even better is that it was in the expense of Bartoli (what would have made it better is if South beat Bartoli; she only retired). Talking of retirements so many players from the latter stages of last week have retired; Mauresmo, Azarenka and now Bartoli - was last week that strenuous!
One good new before we get to the bad. Anne Keothavong is through! This week is definitely doing well for the british! Could she make it back to back semifinals? It's possible; she beat Agnes Szavay and now she won't need to face a seed until the semis!
Bad news comes in the name of Nicole Vaidisova (yes again!) She lost to Mara Santangelo 6-1,6-1. I really want to support her in this tough time in her career but she is waring it a bit thin. I really think she should rest for a few months after the Australian Open and come back revived - because Roland Garros is one of her stronger events. I really don't want to see this performance from her because I know she is much better than this

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Monica Lo



Just on the topic of former MCI's did anyone realize that Monica Lo filmed a Hollywood movie playing a lead role! Ok it wasn't a big movie but it's still amazing how she's still out their making her career work - I'm definitely going to watch it but I'm not expecting anything much!

Miss Chinese International 2009 Part 3

Well I’ve basically said 20 contestants who I think could make the Top 10! Well I’ve only got 3 photos to judge. The others I’ll talk about now.
02. Beijing – Comparatively she is slightly below average for this contest in the looks department but being a TV presenter should mean she has strong conversational skills which will do her well – also coming from Beijing could give her a slight advantage!
03. Chicago – I don’t really like her or dislike her. Her face doesn’t really match well with her body and I doubt she’ll make it far into the competition.
06. Guangdong – Her official portrait was good but the other two weren’t, so I really do have to see more of her before I finalise a decision.
08. Harbin – Her contest photos are decidedly average, but I’ve seen other photos of her and she looks good actually. I don’t know what to expect from her so I guess I’ll have to wait.
09. Heilongjiang – At the start of this process she was in my Top 15 I’d say but she just lost her appeal for me. There are other contestants who look better, have a better posture and are more vibrant than her so I don’t know where she places amongst them.
13. Macau – Personally I think she is one of the weaker contestants if not one of the weakest in terms of presence and looks. I really doubt she’ll make it to the next stage in the contest.
14. Manila – She gives me two feelings one is that she’ll be quite a happy go lucky person like a past contestant from Lima, or one who is deceptively shy; we’ll just have to wait and see.
21. Singapore – Facially the weakest I’d say – It looks like she went through bad surgery! Well let’s not be too harsh but I doubt she’ll make it far.
22. Sydney – She reminds me of a children TV presenter in Hong Kong?!?! Anyway I don’t think she is particularly strong in my honest opinion but I wouldn’t 100% rule her out of a further stage.
23. Tahiti – Similar contestants never make it far at MCI because she is just slightly too foreign for MCI to put her into the next stage. I think she has a sporty and strong look to her but I think her appeal isn’t as strong in such an event.
28. Zhengzhou – I don’t really like her, she just doesn’t look too good to me! Let’s not comment any further on that!

I do think this year is quite strong because there are 4 or 5 great candidates and a bunch of good ones also, there are bound to be weaker contestants like in any other pageant but I think this year we actually have a good quality bunch of contestants.
So lets bring the crown back to the former strongholds of America after 3 years without a win. It would be great if the title could go back to New York as it would be a 10 year anniversary since their last title in 1999 with Michelle Ye - now a national star. Going to Toronto wouldn't be too bad either with their last win in 1997 by the fabulous Monica Lo (even my favourite contestant Lee San San had to hand it to her). Or maybe another title to the ever growing (in beauty) European contestants whilst a first for China would be an interesting twist!

Miss Chinese International 2009 Part 2

After the Top 5 there are a few who stand out as possible alternatives for me
01. Auckland – I like her but she has no votes on Pan’s Pageant Page!
10. Hong Kong – She looks much better with this hairstyle, more vibrant and feminine and also younger; much much better than when she was in Miss Hong Kong.
17. Nanjing – She looks like a sweet small town girl to me which is why I like her, but in the competition she is yet to stand out for me – though she is deemed a favourite.
19. San Francisco – She won the Miss Asian American which should put her on good stead, she is a simple beauty so I think a Top 10 isn’t asking too much.
20. Seattle – It took quite a time to decide on her but she has a nice smile – but she does look very awkward at stages, if everything goes right for her this 5’10 Seattle girl could cause a shock in my opinion.

Currently including these 5 I’ll have my Top 10 but I have to say there are a few who I think could easily break into my select group of 10. Let me name a few…
04. Chongqing – though at times she looks very spaced out I’ve seen some of her modelling shots and I think if she can reproduce that type of effect on the day a Top 10 placement wouldn’t be too difficult.
05. Foshan – She kind of reminds me of Lily Ho who absolutely broke down in Miss Hong Kong 2007. But anyway she has a sweet young look to her but I’m not sure if that’s enough to garner her much success.
07. Hangzhou – It was interesting to know that she is deaf and mute because it will be the first time MCI has a contestant like that, it would be interesting to see how she fares in conversations and how MCI will try to make it work out.
12. Kuala Lumpur – Sadly I think Kuala Lumpur doesn’t look as good with the short hair compared to her at Miss Astro. At Miss Astro she looked sweet and endearing; a strong Top 10 candidate, but here she seems to have lost that look.
15. Melbourne – She was one of the contestants that I took some time to decide on whether she was in my current Top 10; she has a elegant and sophisticated look to her which is her main selling point.
26. Vancouver – I consider her a strong dark horse; she as a contestant reminds me of Sarah Song of Sydney in 2007, someone who you don’t expect to win it but is one of the prettier ones. Her look will probably take her to the Top half of the pack so it really comes down to whether she could perform on the night – though I doubt MCI will award Vancouver 5 wins out of 21 contests!
27. Wuhan – It’s weird because I think she looks Ok but if I were to remember all the 28 contestants I think she’ll be the one I’ll most likely forget. I guess her photos don’t shine and she doesn’t have a feature which really makes her stand out (in a good or bad way).

Miss Chinese International 2009 Part 1

Miss Chinese International has always been an important part of the start of the pageant calendar for me but this year I’ve found it particularly hard to find any substantial information on the contestants maybe because last years was such a disaster! But anyway I’m back, motivated to post about the pageant which is only a week away!
This year there are a whopping 28 contestants compared to below 20 of previous years. Quite a few netizens have bashed this years contestants but personally I think they are better than last years and a few actually stand out as possible winners.
Before I start talking about the contestants I highly recommend you to open http://www.geocities.com/chinesepageantpage/ before reading my post as you’ll know who I’m talking about then.
After looking through the limited resources I’ve got I can safely say my current Top 5 are
18. New York
24. Toronto
11. Jilin
25. Tubingen (Germany)
16. Montreal

These are the 5 that stand out to me, 3 of which are favourites in the Hong Kong press. There are also a few good alternatives just knocking the door on the Top 5 but I’ll talk about them later.

So why is New York my favourite at the moment? She stands an impressive 5’11; she wouldn’t look out of place even in an international event! If Edelweiss has actually entered we would have seen two of the tallest contestants ever on MCI – the battle of the giants! She has a stunning smile and beautiful posture which should aid her well (note I haven’t heard any of them speak so I don’t know there eloquence etc).

Toronto is the hot favourite of the Hong Kong public and I understand. A few days ago she was ranked at a respectable 4th for me but every new photo I’ve seen of her makes me like her even more. Her elegance and sweet smile are enough to take her to the Top 5 on top of that she won an award for being a good orator, so I guess she is the one to beat.

Jilin looks to be the cute/sassy Chinese girl who we see in countless Asian dramas. She is undeniably photogenic but when the camera isn’t just on her she looks somewhat average and a little awkward (as seen in the Top 7 selection in China). She isn’t deemed a favourite but I’ll like to see more of her (as I don’t want her to become like Vancouver last year where I was mesmerized by one of her photos but then her look changed 180 degrees for the following ones).

Tubingen is the European representative (honestly why don’t they send the Top 3 after Oceane won it last year!) My first thoughts of her back at the Miss Europe were slightly mixed but then seeing better shots of her I felt she was a contender for the title – though I doubt MCI will give it to Europe again I think with a good performance it would be outrageous if she doesn’t reach the Top 5.

Montreal stands out to me with her mixed heritage and charm but for some reason very few people agree with me on this. I personally don’t understand why because she has a good look, posture and smile so why not put her as a contender?

Qatar, Chennai and Brisbane ATP Final

Well two of the tournaments boasted some unexpected finalists but at least in Qatar the Andy's made their mark. With this win Andy Murray is definitely going to be a favourite for the Australian Open having beaten Roger Federer who I'd expect everyone to list as the favourite even if he seems to be going on a downhill curve. I think the two favourites for the title will be Djokovic and Murray and maybe we should add Federer in the mix too. I do think that Djokovic will need to perform well in Sydney before he is labeled a favourite but I have confidence that he will at least reach the semis. I think Nadal will be a possible semi finalist and if he has the luck of the draw he may even reach the finals; however I doubt he could win a hard court Grand Slam yet - maybe in 2010.
Unlike last year I don't think there will be as many unexpected shocks like Tsonga getting to the final though I'd expect a few to get to the quaterfinal stages and maybe even break into the semis. All in all this week will be crucial to see who really is the favourite for the Australian Open. Currently all eyes are on Murray after he beat Federer but if Djokovic can make a good comeback at the Medibank international I would be a fool to doubt the reigning champion!
Congratulations to Cilic and Stepanek also - nearly forgot about them, but one thing that interested me was in the three tournaments neither of the first two seeds made it to the finals Nadal/Federer, Davydenko/Wawrinka, Djokovic/Tsonga - that's a pretty strong bunch of players if you ask me! Instead all the 3rd seeds made the finals and besides Fernando Verdasco both the other 3rd seeds won the tournament - is that a sign? - by the way Djokovic should be 3rd seed in the Australian Open (wink!!)

Saturday, 10 January 2009

Tomosaka Rie


I was just looking through Japanese Artistes when I bumped into Dohmoto Tsuyoshi - half of the group KinKi Kids. I remember watching him in Kindaichi when I was like 6 or 7 because TVB always showed Kindaichi! I LOVED KINDAICHI!!!! But anyway as I was looking at Jdorama I suddenly realised that the other half of the beautiful little couple was Tomosaka Rie - the actress who was in Oh! My Girl! I can't believe I didn't recognize it (but I guess I was young then, so my memroy has faded! lol)
I'm definitely much more interested in her now so when I have time I'll watch her series as well as Mokomichi's!
Sadly I cound't find a good picture of her on Oh! My Girl! but this will suffice.

Hobart and Sydney WTA Draws

On the womens side the draws are also really exciting with 6 Top 10 players aligned for the Medibank International - though two weeks in Sharapova still hasn't made an appearance, could mean she still isn't back to form.
Serena Williams (MY ABSOLUTELY FAVOURITE TOP 10 FEMALE PLAYER) headlines the draw with home favourite Samantha Stosur and Casey Dellacqua on her side, of course there is also the tough cookie of Sara Errani. The draw looks even more tough when you span slightly down and see Dominika Cibulkova on Serena's part of the draw (and I guess I have to add Marion Bartoli).
Well Serena normally plays better with competition so we'll see what happens here. Last weeks winner Elena Dementieva is third seed here with the likes of Victoria Azarenka (another winner from last week) and Agnieszka Radwanska in her section of the draw; it's definitely going to be a tough set up here. We also have the possibilities of Sybille Bammer and Daniela Hantuchova rising to the competition.
Kuznetsova and Zvonareva heads the next part of the draw, though I don't like them that much I do agree that it should be a difficult match. Shuai Peng, Kaia Kanepi, Ai Sugiyama and Anabel Medina Garrigues are in this section of the draw - all capabale of toppling some of the big names once in a while.
Nadia Petrova will have Alize Cornet to worry about in the first round of the draw whilst Dinara Safina the 2nd seed will have Sorana Cirstea. Whilst I have to mention Maria Kirilenko; one of my favourite players.
All in all the Medibank International looks like a tough tournament - hopefully not too many favourites lose in the early stages!
In Hobart - Morilla Hobart International, we have another of my favourite players Flavia Pennetta who is No.1 seed!!!! I think Pennetta is capable of beating the players in her part of the draw but I need to see her result against Peer before I can make a judgement.
Jie Zheng who definitely caused a stir last year will have Tamarina Tanasugarn; an Asian compatriot to keep her company. Two of my favourite players Gisela Dulko and Nicole Vaidisova are in this draw. Hopefully Nicole will be able to step up her game and make me proud by at least reaching the quarters because her draw isn't all that difficult - but saying that last year she had some really easy draws but still lost out.
The third quarter of the draw sees Alona Bondarenka and Anna Chakvetadze with a score of other less known players. I'm actually taking a liking towards Chakvetadze maybe because she is at a ranking she deserves rather than in the Top 10!
Agnes Szavay and the every present Patty Schnyder are in this side of the draw with dangers like Anne Keothavong (finally I get to say that for a British player) and Olga Govortsova lurking beneath. Agnes didn't have a good end to the year last year so Anne maybe able to make a shock because I haven't seen her making a mark on the higher ranked players.

Auckland and Sydney ATP Draws

Well the draws for next weeks tournaments are out and there are some interesting things of note. Let's start with Auckland - the Heineken Open.
Del Potro; the superman of late last season headlines this draw. Ironically his early opponent could be Ernests Gulbis who beat out last weeks No.1 seed Novak Djokovic - could it happen again!
Juan Monaco one of my favourite players is in that part of the draw also.
Last year I found a liking of Robby Ginepri so I'm going to look out for him - his first opponent will be Jose Statham - a New Zealand wildcard. Besides that Kei Nishikori is also in this draw, having Juan Carlos Ferrero as his first match - it could be tough.
In Sydney; the Medibank International, Djokovic heads the draw again hopefully it will be second time lucky as I don't want Paul-Henri Mathieu or Andreas Seppi to schok Novak Djokovic after a first round exit last week. Mario Ancic is also in Djokovic's quarter of the draw but if Djokovic is on form the draw shouldn't be a problem - let's just hope he has had time to reflect on the loss last week.
Tsonga could be his semifinal opponent - it seems like nowadays Tsonga is shadowing Djokovic in every draw! Rainer Schuettler, Feliciano Lopez and Tomas Berdych are also in that side of the draw.
But what's interesting is that Lleyton Hewitt is in this draw but not as a seed like we would expect probably a year or two ago but as a wildcard - could he cause a shock? David Nalbandian is on his side of the draw and we know how Nalbandian likes giving us shocks!
Dmitry Tursunov and Richard Gasquet are sadly 1st round opponents! Amazingly Gasquet is not even a seed in this draw. But anyway the Medibank International looks really interesting - can't wait for the 1st round action.

Brisbane and Auckland WTA Final

Well after my last post amazingly Mauresmo beat Ivanovic. It shows that Ivanovic is still not on track because Mauresmo really did not look on form in her previous matches but she beat Ivanovic quite comprehensively. Sad that she had to retire in the next round allowing Bartoli to reach the finals, I guess she used up too much of her stamina to beat Ivanovic!!!!
On the other side Victoria Azarenka continued to be the unrelenting force driving the bottom half of the draw, it was a deserved title for her.
In Auckland Keothavong sadly lost in the semis, however even if she did advanvce I doubt she will beat Dementieva. Well Dementieva's final opponent was Elena Vesnina who beat Vaidisova and Wozniacki in her big to win the title. But Dementieva was on form, though she barely played any high ranking opponents she beat most of her opponents in easy two set matches.

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Brisbane, Chennai and Doha update

Well after Djokovic was beaten I felt totally at loss with this tournament - to then find out that Djokovic's successor Gulbis lost out in Round 2 was even more of a shock; as it was to Paul-Henri Mathieu! Now everything lies on Kei Nishikori to set things straight! Richard Gasquet vs. Tsonga will hopefully be good considering they are good friends they'll probably know a lot about each others technique and style.
Did you hear - Davydenko is out of the Australian, ok not too big a news in terms of losing a possible semifinalist but knowing that Davydenko looks to be on the end of his career is actually quite pleasing. Besides that the Chennai Open is still in it's round 2 stage so I can't really say that much but with the top 2 seeds gone it looks like the field is much more interesting and diverse for some reason!
At Doha the 2nd round has not finished but the usual lot are currently safe. Nadal breezed past his two opponents losing only 4 games - actually quite sad to know that he is starting off this year so dominant. Gael Monfils will be his next opponent who had a rough match against Nicolas Devilder. Roddick is still in; he will face Clement next and if he wins Victor Hanescu would be his next shot before he gets to the bigger fish like Nadal. Sadly Youzhny lost - not a good start.
Murray is through to the third round with Sergiy Stakhovsky as his next opponent, this should mean a safe entry to the semis to face most likely Federer.
This tournament just seems so uneven as you have 4 main players a few possible threats and then a string of lower ranked players - meaning that it's quite likely that the Top 3 or 4 make it through to the semis.

Brisbane and Auckland QF Stage

In Brisbane the Top 3 seeds are still standing - sadly Marion Bartoli is part of that mini elite. On the other hand Amelie Mauresmo has scraped through her last two matches. She beat Dokic in a very tight two sets 7-6(9), 7-6(5) and then struggled against Julie Coin 5-7, 6-2, 7-6(11). It's so sad to see Amelie at this stage of her career, she reached her highest and then literally dropped of the podium.
Bartoli will play Tathiana Garbin in the QF but to be honest whatever happens I doubt the eventual finalist from the top draw wouldn't be Ana Ivanovic because there is simply nobody in the top half of the draw that I think could take out a Top 10 even if it is Ana Ivanovic who took 3 sets to beat Roberta Vinci. Hantuchova continued her less than impress run - it's amazing how she continues to stay as a seed even with her weak performances. This has left two rising stars Sara Errani and Olga Govortsova to play for the semifinal position. Whilst Lucie Safavora will play Victoria Azarenka (my favourite player left in the draw).
In Auckland Nicole Vaidisova lost to Elena Vesnina; I'm getting increasingly impatient with Nicole because I don't know what is happening to her, she was such a talent in 2007 but it all left in 2008 - the doomed year for many! This time losing to Elena Vesnina is not going to help her spring back in 2009; though no disrespect to Vesnina, losing to someone who has never felt any trophy success isn't really a good start to the year. However at least Anne Keothavong makes me proud - at this rate Anne will surpass Nicole in rankings! I just hope Nicole will improve quickly as even Shahar Peer who had a bad year in 2008 is doing OK in this tournament.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Brisbane International (Mens) quick update

My worst nightmare! Djokovic is out! The first match of his in 2009, in the first round losing against Ernest Gulbis 6-4,6-4. OH MY GOD! I hope this doesn't mean a weak Australian Open showing for the reigning champion! My worst nightmare indeed - and I thought it be possible for Djokovic to overtake Federer in the next month! Only 20 points seperating them. Also Tursunov lost! This year is not starting well.