The Hilton Shanghai looked less like a hotel and more like an airport when Shanghaiist visited last night. Set up in the foyer was an x-ray machine exactly like the ones you find at Pudong or any other international airport, and each guest who entered the hotel was asked to put their luggage on the conveyor belt for a security check. Unlike when we travel home from China for a holiday, Shanghaiist wasn’t harbouring 400 DVDs and 10 Xiangyang watches in our bag, so we had nothing to be nervous about.
And we’re guessing that calming the nerves is what this security arrangement’s all about. The nerves of Roger Federer, that is. The Swiss number one jetted into Shanghai on Sunday for a week of preparation for the 2005 Masters Cup at the Qizhong Tennis Centre. And since we’re pretty sure he and the other qualifiers are staying at the Hilton (the official hotel of the event), we’re assuming that the high-profile nature of these guests is the reason for the safety measures.
Mind you, the field for the event is getting less and less “high profile” by the day. Marat Safin has already withdrawn, and word is that both Andy Roddick and Lleyton Hewitt will join the Russian on the sidelines. Organisers are no doubt praying that Federer’s suspect ankle holds up or the Masters Cup might be hoisted in the air by a Davydenko or Ljubicic. Never heard of them! (Though we don’t profess to following the ATP race very closely this year …)
The big question, however, is this: which of the Masters qualifiers is going to seize the opportunity to evoke the famous “cucumber in foil” scene from Spinal Tap when they go through the security check at the Hilton? If Nalbandian makes the final eight, our money’s on him. For no reason in particular.
Also spotted around town: giant tennis balls on Huaihai Lu (pictured).