Congrats to Lexi Thompson

Kraft Nabisco Trophy

Kraft Nabisco Trophy

It was another really good golf tournament at the Kraft Nabisco in Rancho Mirage. We weren’t in town to watch it but we followed it intently on television. Both Lexi and Michelle played exceptional golf.

From Thursday  on, we watched Lydia Ko, Yani Tseng and Michelle Wie play their best. We even saw Angel Yin a few times when she played like a pro. It was as though we knew her.

Last year, we met Angel’s father while in line when we were all waiting for the bus. When you attend the Kraft Nabisco, you can’t just drive up to the golf course and park unless you are a VIP, media or someone affiliated with the LPGA.

You park your car at south end of the Aqua Caliente parking lot and shuttles take you to the Mission Hills Country Club. Throughout the day, there are shuttles that pick you up from the golf course and take you back to the parking lot.

For a moment there, Angel was right up there on the Leaderboard. Something happened to her game because she ended up last, alone at 73rd position. Better luck next year Angel. We will be watching for you!

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Congrats to Novak

Novak wins

Novak wins

I guess I should congratulate Novak for his back-to-back wins at Indian Wells and Miami. I was disappointed after seeing my favourite player, Roger Federer lose to Novak Djokovic when I was sitting in the hot sun at Indian Wells. It was a great match and Novak really played well.

Novak Djokovic becomes the first player to win both the BNP Paribas Open and the Sony Open. It would have been nice to see Roger win it, like he did a few years ago. It was clear that Roger had improved since last year and there were signs of the old Roger coming back. I felt confident of Roger’s backhand. It was solid and well executed, unlike last year when I held my breath every time he went for his back hand.

It would had been nice to had seen Rafa, Milos and Andy but this year, we missed them because we only attended the Championship weekend. By missing them earlier in the week, we are now re-thinking our future purchase of tickets. Perhaps, we need to attend the week sessions just in case the top seeds don’t make it past the earlier rounds. I know Rafa had lost to Dolgopolov earlier on and so did Maria Sharapova. I also missed out on Ryan Harrison’s match and would have liked watching Ana Ivanovic too.

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Counting Sheep

Big Horn Sheep

Big Horn Sheep

One of my favourite things to do when I’m in Palm Springs is to visit the animals at the Living Desert Zoo. There you will find an assortment of animals like giraffes, lions, elephants, ostriches and birds of all kinds.

Another favourite event that I enjoy is to play a round of golf at the SilverRock resort in La Quinta. As a resident, I get to play this course for a reasonable dollar and enjoy a PGA championship course where the Bob Hope Invitational was played on.

Along the back nine, the fairways run along the canal and the mountains where often, big horn sheep comes down from the hills to drink water and to graze. I’ve seen them many times on the course but usually from afar.

This time was different because on hole # 16, a large male sheep was standing on the blue tees waiting for us. Luckily we were playing from the white tees so we stopped, took this picture and drove on. These are majestic looking animals but approach them carefully because they are still wild animals.

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Another Satisfied Customer at Salsa’s

Pork Shank

Pork Shank

Our friends are in town for the BNP Paribas Open and one of the restaurants we have recommended to them to try was Salsa’s Mexican Restaurant on Highway 111 and Date Palm Drive.

They tried it and loved it! And so did we (for the um-teenth time). On this occasion, I decided to try something new. I usually go for one of their Camarones (or shrimp) dishes but I was starving and needed some meat in my diet. I went for the Pork Shanks in Adobo Sauce. It was served with the usual stuff, rice, beans and veggies.

I found the pork a bit fatty but the sauce was incredibly delicious. The pork shank was a good size and there were lots of edible morsels of meat on it but let me warn you, it was quite fatty as well.

The adobo sauce is delicious which I used to slurp up with rice. Like always, corn tortillas or flour tortillas are served alongside, making it a pretty hardy meal.

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Rafa at Okura’s

Kobe Beef Carpaccio

Kobe Beef Carpaccio

I found out one of the favourite hangouts for tennis celebrities playing at the BNP Paribas Open is Okura’s on Highway 111 and Washington. I spoke with Carl who is one of the managers there and he told me that Ana Ivanovic had already dined there twice. He was hoping to see Rafael Nadal because Rafa really likes their sashimi and always enjoys the delicacies and quality of food at Okura’s. He has been eating at Okura’s ever since he started competing here.

I was doubtful to see Rafa because he had lost the match against Alexandr Dolgopolov. For some reason, Rafa wasn’t himself and Alex was playing extremely well. Maybe we’ll see Rafa next year at Okura’s.

At Okura’s, every item on the menu is high quality. I’m glad to hear that it is very popular to tennis celebrities because I like it too. Every time I’m in town, I try to make it to Okura’s at least once.

For the adventurous eaters, try the Kobe Beef Carpaccio which are very thin sliced beef from Kobe, Japan. The dish is served raw with slivers of pickles on it. To eat it, you simply roll the beef up with a slice of pickle inside and eat it. Okura’s has three types of carpaccio’s on the menu, Hamachi Carpaccio, Salmon Carpaccio and Kobe Beef Carpaccio. All of them are a must-try.

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An Impossible Rematch

Nadal with 2013 Title

Nadal with 2013 Title

Yesterday was a shocker. After hearing that Maria Sharapova lost to Camila Giorgi, a qualifier, I was ready to sell my tickets to Championship weekend to the first taker on eBay. I sat down to watch Rafael Nadal and after the first set, I was ready to give away my tickets for free. I couldn’t believe it. Nadal is usually a rock and a rather big rock, more like a boulder. He is usually solid and hard to beat but the round yesterday, made him look incompetent. Nadal was not moving like himself. He looked more lead footed than ever which was surprising to me. His opponent was quick, lightning quick and had this weird forehand shot that seem to had flatten the shot. It would fly over the net then dive and almost not bounce at all. Nadal could not return anything and when he did, it went errant. So unlike Nadal. There goes my hope for a Nadal vs Wawrinka rematch.

With Rafa out, who is going to win the men’s title? Same goes for the ladies’ title. I was hoping to see Maria Sharapova again but no, not this year. And then there was the match between Ana Ivanovic and Sloane Stephens. Sloane was victorious over Ana and so, another top seeded player is out.

 

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Maria needs our prayers

Maria in 2013

Maria in 2013

As last year’s champion, Maria Sharapova (or better known as Sugarpova to her sweet fans), it is hard to defend the title when there are a field of young talented players in the mix. Today, Maria is having a difficult time playing against Camila Giorgi who is four years younger , shorter and lighter.  Maria lost the first set (3/6) but won the second set (6/4). She is struggling in the third set and is close to being eliminated. It would be an incredible upset if Camila is the victor.

At 5/6, I am still hoping that Maria comes out winning this round. It would be horrible for last year’s champion to exit so early from the tournament.

Update: Maria Sharapova lost to Camila Giorgi – unbelievable!

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OD’d on tennis?

Indian Wells

Indian Wells

My friend Jack is OD’d on tennis. After a whole weekend of watching my favourites and non-favourites, I’m almost there too. But Jack has been at it for two weeks instead of my two days.

For some reason, it’s been tough for the top seeded players to get through their first and second rounds. World No. 1 Rafael Nadal struggled in his first set and came close to exiting. Luckily he found his game and did a comeback. Roger Federer struggled too, with lots of mishits and sky’d balls. Then there was Andy Murray who really struggled to find his game. Andy had to play three sets before winning the match.

What was surprising to me was to see an early exit from Tsonga. Jo didn’t play well, so perhaps he deserved it. He didn’t look like himself for the entire game until he got mad, threw his racquet on the court and broke it. With a new racquet, he seem to had come alive but only briefly.

Other surprises included ninth seed Sara Errani and fourth seed Tomas Berdych.

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Congrats to Rafa but my heart goes out to Roger

I truly enjoyed watching the Federer vs Nadal match at the Australian Open this morning. Roger was almost himself again, hitting shots confidently and coming to the net more often. His footwork had improved too, but once his backhand started failing him, Rafa swooped in for the kill.

I do give credit to the Spaniard. Rafa is a top notch player and World No. 1 player to beat. It would had been pure luck for Roger to come back from a bad year and beat Rafa. I had a glimpse of hope in the first set but when Rafa played on his terms, I knew it was over for Roger. He tried though. There were some really good rallies and back and forth exchange. Roger had hit some quality shots which were a long time coming. It’s great seeing him playing well again and I wish him all the luck this year. I think all his fans are waiting for another win, at Roland Garros or better yet, at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells in March.

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Preview for BNP Paribas Open

Are you watching the Australian Open?

Did you see the new Roger Federer with his new enlarged racquet? I’m glad to see Roger is back to playing well and hungry again for a win.

Did you see Rafael Nadal and Kei Nishikori’s match the other day? Nadal had to work for it and for once, I saw his knees. He didn’t have any bandages until later on, when he decided to wrap up his hand.

Did you see Ana Ivanovic against Serena Williams? Upset. Then Maria Sharapova exits early. A bigger upset. And last night, our Canadian Eugenie Bouchard ousted Ana Ivanovic, big upset!

Tonight’s match will be good to see. Roger Federer against Andy Murray. I wanted to see this at Indian Wells last year but both Roger and Andy exited before the Championship weekend. Perhaps, this year at the BNP Paribas Open will be different.

We have our tickets and we can’t wait.

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