Players Soak Up Kickoff Party
by Matt Fitzgerald|
Tuesday night saw an array of stars from both the ATP World Tour and WTA come together for a night of fun at the Sony Ericsson Open Kickoff Party. Held at the Paris Theatre in Miami Beach, players, celebrities and VIPs were able to take pleasure in a night out away from their day jobs.
Melanie Oudin, fresh off a win earlier in the day, was one of the first guests to greet the blue carpet and was ready to have an enjoyable night off. “We don’t often get to dress up so it’s fun to do something different, especially at a place like Miami Beach. I’m looking forward to seeing everyone, both inside and outside the tennis community.”
Daniela Hantuchova echoed similar thoughts.“It’s nice to have some fun away from the court. We get to relax a bit and step away from the tennis, which is needed every now and then.”
Austrian Jurgen Melzer felt the kickoff party was a perfect way to alleviate anxiety. “Tournaments can be stressful. You have all sorts of distractions and have to stay focused,” stated Melzer. “A night like tonight allows us to have fun and participate in something we don’t do often… it helps that it’s in a great location, too.”
When asked about his favorite restaurant in Miami, Melzer nominated something non-local, P. F. Chang’s China Bistro! P. F. Chang’s was also endorsed by Vera Zvonareva. “I really like their food. Could eat there every day,” Zvonareva said. She added, “I also love the Cheesecake Factory – on occasion I can be a cheesecake addict, especially there!”
Japan’s Kei Nishikori discussed the overwhelming support he’s received from fellow players and fans and the upcoming fundraisers planned to raise money for tsunami relief efforts. “It’s a tough situation. I’m so thankful for all the support that’s been going around,” expressed the 21 year old Japanese player. “If I can do something to help and give hope and happiness to the people in Japan, it’s all worth it.”
Intertwined with current tennis stars were a number of celebrities. From musicians to renowned “professional video gamers,” all spectrums were covered.
Married Broadway couple Orfeh and Andy Karl, visiting from Manhattan, took part in a number of music events in Miami this past week. Being regular tennis followers, they jumped at the chance to attend tonight’s party. “I’m really excited about everything going on here tonight,” exclaimed Orfeh. “We’re both huge tennis fans and respect what these guys do.”
She was hesitant to name her favorite player, but after Karl quickly named Federer as his favorite, Orfeh said she also preferred Federer. Up to date on this year’s results, she proclaimed that Djokovic is “moving up on [my] list with his incredible play and personality.”
“Real Housewives of Miami” star Adriana De Moura also dubbed Federer as her favorite player. “I like his overall class, the way he plays so smooth,” explained De Moura. But her gravitation towards the popular Swiss may derive from other forces. “Roger is my son’s favorite player so perhaps that’s why I favor him over everybody else.”
Gamers Dmaq and Tsquared arrived, equipped with Sony Ericsson’s mobile gaming system, Xperia PLAY. “We’re here to check out the experience, promote Xperia PLAY and have a good time,” said DMaq. “We want to show the players how to play video games properly.”
Fans might be surprised that the player they’d like to play against most in a video game challenge is Maria Sharapova. According to Tsquared, “she’s very good at video games and could be tough to beat.”
Sony Ericsson executives Stefan Croix, Andre Jacquet and Steve Walker explained their motivation to improve the Sony Ericsson Open each year. “Tournaments are about the stars and fans so you need things to go well,” Croix said. “There’s good energy this year so far but you always want to improve upon the previous event.”
One of this year’s focal points is the showcasing of Sony Ericsson’s latest products. “We have a lot of new products coming out, so this tournament is a great platform to introduce them,” said Walker.
Final arrivals included tennis power couple Tomas Berdych and Lucie Safarova. Having just come from a divine dinner, Berdych was keen to continue the night of relaxation. “We get our own car from the tournament, so we’re free to do what we want when we’re not playing. It’s really nice.”
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