By James Pham
Changeover contributor James Pham is on site as the tournament’s in-house writer, writing website posts, press releases, doing player interviews and whatever else needs editorial support for the week. He shares some behind-the-scenes notes with The Changeover.
In press conferences this week at the Shenzhen Open, I’ve been hearing about Chinese nicknames for the players, like in this priceless exchange:
Reporter to Richard Gasquet: Do you know your nickname in China? We call you “Dau Phu”. Do you know what that means?
Reporter: Tofu. Chinese food. Bean curd. You know bean curd? Tofu? Soya… It’s white. You’re white. Tofu looks lovely. You’re lovely.
Gasquet: Thank you.
Reporter: You can cook it in so many ways. You’re considered an all-court player. So that’s your nickname. You never had tofu before right?
Gasquet: No, never. Never in my life.
Reporter: You’re okay with [the nickname]?
Gasquet: Yes, no problem.
What? Seriously? Gasquet has never heard of tofu? Who doesn’t know tofu? Has he never been to a Chinese restaurant? Ah, but I digress…
After the presser, someone told me there’s another reason he’s called “Tofu”… “Because tofu is soft and easily broken.” Ouch.
Pospisil is known as Shao Shen Rvo which literally means “Little Fresh Meat”. I guess baby blues and a toothsome smile transcend language barriers.
This got me wondering what other players have endearing nicknames, something the Chinese love to use. So in honor of China hosting three straight weeks of men’s tennis for the very first time, I present you with the Chinese Nickname Tennis Quiz, courtesy of some of my colleagues in the media center.
Note: ATP and WTA players, active and retired, are all fair game. I’ve included the Chinese pronunciation to the best of my ability, as in some cases, nicknames are based on what players’ names sound like in Chinese. (Scroll down for answers.)
Who is known as…?
1. The Carrot (Ro-boh)?
2. The Zombie (Jiang Shu)?
3. Golden Boobs (Guang Jing Nai)?
4. The Monkey King (Ta Shew Shung)?
5. The Model Worker (Lao Mua)?
6. The Trojan Horse (Thua Lua Y Mua Ma)?
7. Big Ass (Lua Ta Pi)?
8. Husband of the Princess (Fu Mah)?
9. Big White Rabbit (Ta Bai Tu)?
10. Cabbage (Bai Tsai)?
11. Number Three Dua Zi (Tsan Dua Zi)?
12. The Cow (Na Nhiew)?
13. The Czar (Sha Huang)?
14. The Colorful Butterfly (Khwa Khu Tia)?
15. Four Eggs (S’Dang)?
16. High quality Mud (Yu J’Ny)?
17. The Empress (Nhu Hoang)?
1. The Carrot is Tommy Robredo, because “carrot” in Chinese sounds like how Robredo is pronounced. I’m sure it was just a coincidence that he was wearing an orange shirt and orange glasses in his win over Seppi today.
2. As my colleague explained, The Zombie is none other than Andy Murray, known for his huge open mouth anguished screams and pasty white skin. Also known as Thunder (Rey Rey) for its similarity to “Murray”.
3. This one actually made me LOL. One bad gold lame outfit day and Bethanie Mattek-Sands with her natural “accessories” is now forever known as Golden Boobs.
4. The Monkey King is a cute, lovable character in the 16th century Chinese folk novel “Journey to the West” and bears a resemblance to Juan Martin del Potro, especially on his sexy unshaven days.
5. In a workforce as large as China, the Model Worker is a compliment and refers to none other than Nikolay Davydenko who in his heydey consistently played the most tournaments out of anyone.
6. Another play on names, The Trojan Horse (The Horse in Troy) is Viktor Troicki who lost in the Shenzhen Open quarters this week in his second tournament back. Check out the ShenzhenOpen.com site for my interview with him where he talks candidly about his year away from tennis.
7. The Big Ass is Andy Roddick, so named for his habit of sticking out his derriere as he prepares to serve.
8. Since Martina Hingis is known as The Princess, Fu Mah is none other than one-time Mr. Hingis, Radek Stepanek circa 2006. I’m told that the honorary Fu Mah also applies to Ivanovic’s ex, Fernando Verdasco.
9. Another one of my favorites, Big White Rabbit is the now retired Marion Bartoli, so named for her penchant for bouncing in anticipation of the return of serve and not-so-slender figure. China, you’re mean!
10. Since “kohl” is German for cabbage, this refers to none other than Philipp Kohlscreiber.
11. OK. This one needs a bit of set up. In a famous Chinese TV series, there’s a comedic palace eunuch called Tsan Dua Zi, Tsan meaning “Three” and Dua Zi being the character’s family name. Three Dua Zi refers to Novak Djokovic who was stuck at the number 3 spot behind Federer and Nadal for the longest time. Bonus fact: Djokovic is also known as The Chicken (Tua Ji) because “chicken” refers to a new, up and coming, popular star and because “tua ji” sounds like “dj”, the first two letters of his last name.
12. We call him The Maestro, the Chinese call him The Cow, a reference to Federer being gifted a cow from the Swiss Open.
13. The Czar is none other than Marat Safin, kind of fitting now that he’s an elected politician, no?
14. The Colorful Butterfly is actually male. Twist! With insect eyes-like signature sunglasses, a colorful bandana and colorful shirts, Zee Papillon is France’s Arnaud Clement.
15. Okay, I didn’t get this one at first, but I’m told that Dang is a common kids’ nickname, meaning “eggs” or “balls”. And Four Eggs (S’Dang, say it fast) refers to the man with the similar sounding first name, Stan Wawrinka.
16. This one should’ve been easy. “High Quality Mud” in Chinese sounds exactly like Youzhny.
17. The Queen in any language is still Serena, although I’m told she’s also called “Shao Wei Dien Mu Shu” which translates to “Little Williams Lioness”.
So how did you do on the Chinese Nickname Quiz? Will The Zombie make it to the WTFs? Will Three Dua Zi three-peat in Shanghai? When will The Monkey King make his return?
For more on what I’m writing for the Shenzhen Open, including fun player interviews and match analyses, please see the News and Media section of www.ShenzhenOpen.com