Kerber takes aim at tournament format after bowing out
German Angelique blames tournament format for her exit
If it wasn't already apparent when she muttered angrily under her breath for fluffing her lines, it was more obvious when Angelique Kerber slammed her racket onto the ground.
And it would have been crystal clear to even the most obtuse when the camera creeped up on Kerber and her coach at the break.
One set down to Czech Lucie Safarova and 3-2 down in the second, Kerber was staring in the face of a group-stage exit at the WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global - and she was quivering.
Talking over her coach's words of encouragement, Kerber's voice raised to petulant pitch, as she slammed her racket down again, this time onto her bag.
It was evident that Kerber had already lost the head-game, and the sixth seed climbed off the bench only to step off the cliff, disintegrating on court after that, losing 6-4, 6-3 to eighth-seeded Safarova.
After Petra Kvitova had lost 6-4, 4-6, 7-5 to Garbine Muguruza earlier in the day, this was the only outcome that would have seen Safarova's Czech compatriot, Kvitova, qualify for today's semi-finals at the expense of Kerber.
And the annoyed German didn't mince her words.
"I was actually trying to be in the tunnel and just focusing on my match. But, you know, everybody around... they were counting. Okay, (Kvitova) won one set, now you must win just one set," said Kerber, who didn't specify who were the people she was referring to.
"Whatever. I don't know exactly what they thought, but I think it's fairer like in football if you play (the final group match at) the same time."
In football competitions, it is usual practice to have the final group matches kick off at the same time, to prevent any possibility of manipulation or pile on any added stress on the athletes.
"But, you know, you know the situation, and then you go on court and you try to be focused. I was trying it, but it was like too much at the end," she conceded.
"From the first point, I couldn't find my rhythm. I was actually not there. I was tight and I was not playing my tennis. Lucie played a good match for sure, but for sure it was not my best match today."
Kerber acknowledged that with just one competition court at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, and with the Finals to be hosted here till 2018, it would be impossible to implement such a change, but that did not stop her from speaking her mind.
And she does have a point.
With sports science advancements shrinking margins between one athlete and the next, some go to extreme ends to gain that one per cent of an advantage over their opposition.
But unlike the car analytics used in the Formula 1, where a quick catch of a potential situation could be rectified, there is no diagnostic programme for the athlete mind.
One wonders how the situation would have panned out if the order of play yesterday was switched, and Kerber and Safarova took to the court ahead of the Kvitova-Muguruza encounter.
"There were a lot of moments that I felt frustrated today. Today is about details, very short points, return, serve, double-fault, ace. You don't have that much time for long rallies or just to feel in the court, so it's easy to get frustrated sometimes," said Muguruza, acutely aware of the tiny margins that separated winning and losing.
"It was a very tough match. I was very nervous also because you see you have your opportunities, but you don't like have it until the end."
And Muguruza could not have claimed to have any sort of control of the match that could have passed for a break-dance battle of anything-you-can-do-I-can-do-better.
A Muguruza forehand was matched by Kvitova, a drop shot on one side of the court was followed soon by another across the net, a break of serve was countered - immediately - by another.
Indeed, there were 15 break-points won between the two, seven for Kvitova who lost the game but still won a spot in the semi-finals.
"Yeah, it was really up and down in each set, and then she really (went) forward, going to push the opponent a lot, that's what I was trying as well. I think the serves and returns weren't that strong today probably from both of us," said Kvitova, who had to depend on friend and Fed Cup teammate Safarova, for a massive favour.
And the latter will be getting a little reward for her part in the Czech one-two that knocked Kerber out.
"We met in the locker room and (Kvitova) was really happy and I'm happy for her obviously," said Safarova.
"She said she might buy me some beers."
Dancing king Aaron Kwok not slowing down at 50
But it's about time I settled down, said Hong Kong star at S'pore concert yesterday
Watching Hong Kong Heavenly King Aaron Kwok's performance at his concert in Singapore yesterday, I found it hard to believe that the singer hit the big 5-0 a few days ago.
The star, clad in a glittery, skin-tight blue-and-white bodysuit, kicked off his 2 1/2-hour gig with fast and difficult acrobatic dance moves while singing the Mandarin songs The Charm Of Blue and Song Meets Dance.
Even though the performances were physically demanding, he showed no signs of slowing down.
As the concert continued, the Cantopop dance king, also known as Asia's Michael Jackson, performed gravity-defying b-boy headstands and leaped to and from tailor-made dance boxes placed on stage, impressing the 5,000 fans.
Kwok is in town for a two-night concert at Marina Bay Sands as part of his latest Aaron Kwok De Showy Masquerade World Tour Live 2015.
The seasoned performer knew what his fans wanted and he did not hesitate to give it to them.
At one point, he got his fans excited when he unzipped his long-sleeved jacket during the song Fly, baring his tanned, muscled hot bod to deafening screams from the audience.
The good-looking singer also worked his charm on his fans, greeting them with words like: "I am so happy to be back in this beautiful city to see all my fans.
"Do you miss me? How much do you miss me?"
He spoke calmly in a mix of Cantonese and Mandarin, in a cheeky yet sincere and confident tone.
During the popular chart-topping hit Sharing Love, Kwok went offstage to interact with his fans and caused a commotion as the audience surged forward to get up close with him.
The seasoned performer, who debuted in the 1980s, showed his emotional side when he reminisced about his career on stage.
"I just turned 50 recently. How many 50s can one get in a lifetime?" he asked.
"Everyone will age, but whenever I am working, I always feel that I am getting younger.
"I am very blessed to have the support of you guys," he told the crowd.
Saving the best for last, the radiant age-defying singer belted out his top classics such as Loving You Never Stop (1990) and The Wild City (1994) before obliging with an encore of popular hits including Para Para Sakura.
At the end, the bachelor expressed his desire to start a family, saying: "It's about time I find someone to settle down with."
He asked the crowd: "If I have a family, will you be jealous?"
The fans enthusiastically replied with a loud "No".
Judging from that, it seems like the popular singer is now ready to enter the next phase of his life.
Not a bad way to turn 50 indeed.
Everyone will age, but whenever I am working, I always feel that I am getting younger.
- Hong Kong Heavenly King Aaron Kwok
NUS prof honoured for giving massage therapy to HIV/Aids patients
NUS associate professor leads volunteers to massage HIV/Aids patients every Saturday
He was shy and introverted and did not know how to interact with Aids patients or how to address their condition.
But he could tell they were hurting not just from the disease but also from being abandoned by their families and friends.
So he started a group who massage and comfort such patients to let them know they are not alone.
After doing it for more than a decade, he is being recognised for his work.
Associate Professor Albert Teo, 54, is the director of the Chua Thian Poh Community Leadership Programme at the National University of Singapore (NUS).
He first came to know about the plight of HIV/Aids patients when he was studying for his doctorate in Berkeley, California, in the early 1990s.
He said: "Many of them were isolated because of the stigma that went with the disease."
In 2001, he started Touch Therapy at the Communicable Disease Centre (CDC) wards here, where volunteers massaged HIV/Aids patients every Saturday.
For his 14 years of dedication, he received the inaugural Singapore Patient Advocate Award (Individual) yesterday. It is part of the Tan Tock Seng Hospital Singapore Patient Action Awards, presented for the first time this year.
Nine recipients were picked from out of over 60 nominations and they received their awards from Minister of State for Health Lam Pin Min yesterday.
Prof Teo said the massages do not just relieve joint stiffness and improve mobility.
He said: "More than that, touch therapy also conveys the important message of love and acceptance.
"Many of them are rejected by family and friends and to have a stranger massage them, it is a form of acceptance."
Prof Teo told The New Paper that he and some friends volunteered a lot while in California in the early 1990s.
That was when HIV/Aids sufferers were routinely blamed for their condition, especially if they had contracted the disease through sex or drug use.
One of the organisations they volunteered with was the San Francisco Aids Foundation. That was where Prof Teo learnt how lending a sympathetic ear and simply holding someone's hands could comfort them.
Seeing how HIV/Aids sufferers thrived and gained confidence from human interaction, Prof Teo wanted to start a similar programme here.
"But I was caught up with my career - getting tenure and promotion - (and) I did not have time until 2001," he said. He started volunteering at the CDC wards then.
"These people have been ostracised for so long that even a stranger's touch is healing, even to their spirit," he said.
One such patient is Richard (not his real name), 50. The former odd-job labourer frequented Batam to visit prostitutes after his divorce and got infected with the Aids virus.
"I found out when I had a fever that would not go away. I was tested when I was admitted to hospital and was diagnosed then," he said.
DARE NOT TELL
"I dare not let my family and friends know. Only my mother knows," he said.
Richard said it was through Touch Therapy that he got to know Prof Teo.
He said: "He doesn't look at us with coloured glasses and he talks to us like we are friends. He always has a smile for everyone and many of the patients look forward to Saturdays."
Besides becoming friends with many patients, Prof Teo has helped to raise funds for their care, secured jobs for some and even attended their funerals when they died.
He has taken Touch Therapy beyond HIV and Aids. He and his group of volunteers also visit step-down care institutions to massage elderly patients with dementia.
He doesn't look at us with coloured glasses and he talks to us like we are friends.
- Richard, who is infected with the Aids virus, on Prof Teo
Nine receive Patient Action Awards
New quantum physics comic book for kids launched
Author takes a year to write comic book to introduce quantum physics to children, but he had to learn about the complex subject first
He did not understand what quantum physics was about.
Author and comic book artist Otto Fong admitted that tackling the subject for a children's comic was a daunting task even for him, a former science teacher and engineer.
But after a year, the 47-year-old has finally completed his book on the subject.
Titled The Quantum Bunny, it will be launched at the Arts House at Old Parliament Lane today.
Mr Fong is the creator of the Sir Fong's Adventures in Science comic book series, which tries to make the learning of science more enjoyable for children.
The series has sold about 15,000 copies.
He is also the man behind two Singapore Arts Festival plays - Mr Beng in 1999 and HERStory in 2011.
Mr Fong said that to learn about quantum physics, he had lengthy discussions with scientists from the Centre for Quantum Technologies (CQT), which is part of the National University of Singapore.
Established in December 2007, the CQT conducts interdisciplinary theoretical and experimental research in quantum theory and its application in information technologies.
COURTESY OF MR OTTO FONG
Mr Fong told The New Paper on Wednesday: "I spent many months just trying to learn about quantum physics from the scientists and even attended their lectures.
"Quantum physics is complicated and it was initially difficult for me to grasp. I had to understand what it was about first before I could write on the subject."
Mr Fong, who was a science teacher at Raffles Institution from 2000 to 2007, said The Quantum Bunny was his most difficult book to write.
But he stressed that it will not teach quantum physics to young people but will make some of its concepts familiar to them.
"In a nutshell, my latest work is a story about a misunderstood bunny, Qbit, who is in a quest to be accepted. The goal is to get young readers acquainted with the bizarre, almost cartoonish, behaviour of this physics by telling a good story," he said.
So what exactly is quantum physics?
Mr George Musser, a visiting writer-in-residence at the CQT, said: "It's the theory of matter: What is stuff, what does it consist of, how does it behave? Quantum refers to tiny particles and the principles that govern them."
The CQT's outreach and media relations manager, Ms Jenny Hogan, told TNP that according to quantum physics, particles like atoms can do strange things such as behaving like waves or be in two places at once.
She said: "Now scientists are working out ways to control these particles to build quantum technologies, from future supercomputers to devices for secure identification at ATMs and gravity-measuring devices for oil prospecting."
CQT research assistant Tan Peng Kian, 31, makes a cameo appearance in The Quantum Bunny as one of four guardians Qbit encounters on his adventure.
He said: "It's very weird to see myself as a comic book character. I'm very happy to see that Otto's book is finally completed."
The Quantum Bunny will be available at major bookshops next month at $13 per copy.
It's the theory of matter: What is stuff, what does it consist of, how does it behave? Quantum refers to tiny particles and the principles that govern them.
- Mr George Musser, visiting writer-in-residence at the Centre for Quantum Technologies, on quantum physics
Six nominated for Dollah Kassim Award
Meet the nominees for this year's Dollah Kassim Award
The New Paper Dollah Kassim Award is back.
This year, six of Singapore's brightest football prospects will be vying for the prestigious individual award for promising youngsters.
In addition to a trophy, the winner will also bag the Singapore Pools Passport to Excellence, which comes with an overseas training stint.
The award - initiated by The New Paper in partnership with Singapore Pools and the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) in 2010 - recognises both footballing excellence and character, both of which the late Dollah had in abundance.
Nicknamed "The Gelek King", Dollah was well loved in the local football fraternity, and was widely regarded as one of Singapore's most skilful players.
He died at the age of 61 in 2010.
Previous winners of the award Ammirul Emmran Mazlan (2010) and Adam Swandi (2011) each spent two weeks with English Premier League side Newcastle United, while the winners in the last three years - R Aaravin (2012), Hazim Faiz Hassan (2013) and Muhelmy Suhaimi (2014) - polished their skills at French outfit FC Metz.
This year's six nominees - strikers Glenn Kweh and Benjamin Davis (both National Football Academy (NFA) Under-15), midfielder Elliot Ng and playmaker Saifullah Akbar (both NFA U-16), midfielder Justin Hui (NFA U-17) and the versatile Joshua Pereira (NFA U-18) - are all determined to follow in the footsteps of their predecessors.
A panel of judges from the FAS and TNP will assess the nominees and the winner will be announced on Nov 14.
TNP Sports Editor Lim Han Ming said: "We are looking not just for the best among these six boys, but also one who embodies what the late Dollah was all about.
"All our previous winners are not just good players but also role models for their teammates.
"This year's nominees have impressed their respective national youth team coaches with their talent and attitude, and I am sure all would make worthy winners."
Janet Seow, director of corporate services and corporate communications of Singapore Pools, said: "The late Dollah Kassim was more than a Singapore football legend; he was also a Singapore Pools staff.
"In honour of Dollah's footballing skills and the values he espoused, we are proud to be a founding partner in this award to support young football talent in reaching their potential."
"The Dollah Kassim Award is one of the key platforms through which we recognise the best youth talent who has performed well during the past year," said Benjamin Tan, deputy director of development & planning of FAS.
"We have stringent criteria aimed at identifying and shortlisting the nominees for the award.
"First, the players must be strong in both technical and tactical aspects of the game. Apart from his performance on the pitch, he must demonstrate key qualities and values, including discipline, respect and possess a strong drive to excel at all times.
"After assessing our players' performances - both on and off the pitch - during the past year, we shortlisted these six players who have been exemplary in their conduct.
"One of our key objectives in sending our players on overseas attachment/training stints is for them to compete against, and learn from, their foreign counterparts.
"We are encouraged by the positive assessments of our youth players, several of whom have caught the eye of the international teams, including European clubs.
"Going forward, we will continue to seek more resources and opportunities, enabling us to send more players and teams on regular overseas attachment/training stints, which would give them the international exposure required."
TNP readers will have a say as their votes will also go towards determining which budding young talent will carry on Dollah's legacy through the award.
If your pick goes on to win the award, you could win attractive prizes, sponsored by Singapore Pools.
The profiles of the six candidates will appear in TNP starting from tomorrow's paper.
Voting begins next week.
Federer in quarters after 11th win over Kohlschreiber
Wozniacki: 'I proved I can be a great player'
Wozniacki insists she played her best tennis despite an injury-plagued season
She was picked because she strives for excellence and improvement, and is perceived to be resilient.
But, perhaps Mundipharma's pick of former women's world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki as its new ambassador for Betadine in selected emerging markets is apt in another way as well.
After all, the 25-year-old Dane, who was unveiled at the Asia Square yesterday morning, could use the backing of a major pharmaceutical company after her injury-plagued season.
MODEL DANE: Caroline Wozniacki and Mundipharma's Raman Singh, who is holding a Guinness World Records certificate after its mosaic of 16,000 tennis balls beat the previous record of 10,080. -- TNP PHOTO: JEREMY LONG
Wozniacki has dropped to 17th in the world rankings after winning only the Malaysian Open earlier this year.
She also missed out on the ongoing BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global after finishing 15th on the Road to Singapore list.
Only the top eight made it to the marquee tournament at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
But she viewed her own season a little differently than the rest.
"I think I played some of my best tennis this year that I've ever played, but I haven't had luck with injuries," said the 1.79m-tall player.
"I was playing really well during the clay season and that's something that I've been working hard on. I proved to myself that I can be a great player."
Wozniacki said that she has been spending time with her friends and preparing for the WTA Elite Trophy Zhuhai next week instead of watching the Finals here.
"It is my last tournament this year and I am excited to finish off the year and go on vacation," she said.
"I am just going there and working on some things that I want to do for 2016."
The next 12 months will be a big season for the player, who is branded in some quarters as an underachieving former world No. 1, due to the absence of a Grand Slam title to her name.
She has set her sights on the four Slams next year, as well as the Rio Olympics in August.
"I'll try to get into even better shape and keep my body healthy next year," Wozniacki said.
"It's about working hard and keeping the body strong and suited for the strain that I'll have to take on next year."
"That's really the most important thing," added the tennis star, who unveiled Mundipharma's new Guinness World Records title at yesterday's event.
Some 16,000 tennis balls of different colours were put together to create a mosaic of children at play, surpassing the previous mark of 10,080, set in New York in August this year.
Each tennis ball at yesterday's event represents the life of a child under the age of five who can be saved each day, which is the goal of the United Nations Children's Fund.
Mundipharma's president for Asia Pacific, Latin America, Middle East and Africa, Raman Singh, hailed Wozniacki's appointment yesterday.
He said: "Caroline perfectly embodies the Betadine vision of protecting people in the global fight against infection, while promoting healing and wound care."
Hopefully, for the Dane, the 12-month endorsement will help heal her playing career as well.