Thursday, 14 January 2010

Hefty Yevgeny Kafelnikov

A huge surprise at the Hong Kong Tennis Classic 2010 was the appearance of Yevgeny Kafelnikov, who was Marat Safin’s last-minute replacement in the exhibition event.

Appearance: meaning “arrival” was not so surprising, especially considering Kafelnikov’s “hard-earned” reputation as someone who entered the most tennis tournaments than any other fellow professional purely for the financial incentive. Here’s Agassi’s comment about Kafelnikov: [He] should take his pay cheque and go and buy some perspective with it. (see SCMP article below)

Appearance: meaning “physical look” was the huge surprise (pun intended). Since retiring in 2003 at the age of 28, Kafelnikov has packed on the pounds. He’s also become quite a competent poker player and a failure at golf. Kafelnikov's biodata says he is 6'3" (190 cm) and 185 lbs (84 kg). But these are his measurements whilst he was a pro. Roger Federer is 6’1” (185cm) and 187 lbs (85 kg). Kafelnikov is likely to be over 200 lbs easily.

[Fat Kafelnikov. Pic courtesy Tennis Classic 2010 website.]


Net returns for tournament, sponsor or not (SCMP)
John Carney
Jan 10, 2010

After a tournament, US tennis player Andre Agassi once said that Russia's Yevgeny Kafelnikov should take his pay cheque and go and buy some perspective with it.


It's hard to know if Kafelnikov's attitude towards life has changed thanks to his advice, but the Russian was back in the cash yesterday in the Hong Kong Tennis Classic at Victoria Park. The problem was nobody knew exactly how much he received.


Kafelnikov, Maria Sharapova of Russia, Denmark's Caroline Wozniacki, Sweden's Stefan Edberg and Michael Chang and Venus Williams of the US were the star attractions.


But as has been the case over the years, their appearance money was not made public. They do not play for prize money.


The tournament lost its title sponsor this year after JB Group, which came on board in 2008, pulled out of the event. It left the organisers, Hong Kong Tennis Patrons' Association, looking for a backer.


Having found it hard to find sponsors with sufficient funding because of the recession, they applied to the government's HK$100 million Mega Events Fund. Organisers refused to say how much they had received, but it is understood that they asked for HK$5.5 million.


It also did no harm to the funding bid that the Hong Kong Tennis Patrons' Association has such notable members within its ranks. Chief Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen is its patron-in-chief, while gaming tycoon, Stanley Ho Hung-sun is a vice- patron-in-chief.


Tournament co-director Brian Catton, however, dismissed the idea.


"I don't think that the likes of Mr Tang or Mr Ho would have any influence in this instance," he said.


"They would remain totally removed and impartial. With an issue like this everything is throughly scrutinised and everyone has to go through very strict criteria to get the funding."


One sponsor whose cash till was still ringing was Stella Artois. Sales of the beer were up by 20 per cent compared with last year.


"What has happened is that we've been selling more jugs of beer than pints and it has made a big difference," Stella Artois' marketing manager, Kitty Cheung Wing-yan, said.


Regardless of the bad weather, the tournament played out over the week to a near capacity audience of 3,700 people each night.


But tennis fan Michael Yip Yau-kar, was annoyed at Russian star Marat Safin's non-appearance.


"It's very disappointing as I'm sure organisers knew well before this that he wasn't playing and could have done a lot better job of letting the fans know sooner," Yip said.


But this aside, with another full house for the last day's play yesterday and the next-door tennis village also well attended, local fans were only too happy to be seen splashing their cash in style whatever the players were being paid.

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