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Thursday, August 1, 2019

Tennis - on top of Burj al Arab and ..........under sea !!

A host of Hollywood A-listers and sports stars gathered at the MGM Grand to watch Floyd Mayweather comprehensively outpoint Manny Pacquiao in their eagerly-awaited superfight.  Among them were the Tennis family of Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf.   About a year back,  Andre Agassi  hailed Rafael Nadal as the best player in the history of tennis, ahead of Roger Federer.  The former world No 1 opted for the Spaniard over Federer,  because he has thrived in an ultra-competitive "golden age of tennis".   Agassi opined that n Nadal had to deal with Federer, Djokovic, Murray in the golden age of tennis.  Conventional wisdom ranks Federer ahead of Nadal, as the Swiss holds a record 17 Grand Slam titles against 13 for the current world No 1.

Burj Al Arab  is a luxury hotel located in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. It has been called "The world's only 7 star Hotel" and is the third tallest hotel in the world; however, 39% of its total height is made up of non-occupiable space.   It stands on an artificial island 280 m (920 ft) from Jumeirah beach and is connected to the mainland by a private curving bridge. The shape of the structure is designed to mimic the sail of a ship. It has a helipad near the roof at a height of 210 m (689 ft) above ground.

A good  match can bring the viewers to the tip of their seats –  tense someone could bite-off their nails –  there can also be matches with none watching – for this one was at a dizzying height – a green roof, infact  the helipad of the luxury hotel – the competitors were World famous – Andre Agassi and Roger Federer, but the result was no important.  

On February 22, 2005, the Burj al Arab hosted Andre Agassi and Roger Federer to play a match on their helipad tennis court before heading to the US$1 million Dubai Duty Free Men’s Open, which was the first round of the two-week Dubai Tennis Championships. The hotel’s helipad is situated 211 meters high and covers a surface area of 415 sq m.   Although the court was plenty big enough to play at their fullest, it must have been scary to run too fast or hit too hard for fear of getting close to the edge. There  was  a net around the pad, but still,... worrisome

They were not alone in the sense, that sometime later,   Tiger Woods played golf on top of Burj Al Arab hotel in Dubai.  If that was funny idea, there is more as MailOnline reports of plans  for an underwater tennis court off the coast of Dubai.  It is stated that  Polish architect Krzysztof Kotala, 30 is looking for investors to turn his dream of an underwater court into a reality.

The  architect has served up plans for an underwater tennis court complete with a massive curved roof that he envisages would keep the water out and let players see fish swimming above.  He wants to build the glass clad-court in Dubai, which has a track record of pushing the boundaries of architecture and engineering, by building the Burj Tower - the tallest skyscraper in the world - and the man-made Palm Islands, for example.  However, engineers warn that such a design may be prohibitively expensive and incredibly difficult to execute.

Polish architect Krzysztof Kotala, 30, who has a Master of Science in Architecture from Krakow Polytechnic, is looking for investors to turn his dream into reality.  The owner of 8 + 8 Concept Studio in Warsaw, said: ‘This will be something original. It should be somewhere where there is the tradition of tennis. Dubai is perfect for this idea.’  Mr Kotala said he believes the idea has strong commercial potential and would combine the best of technology, ecology and sport.

While the proposer and  spectators may be enthusiastic, engineers thinks the project is unlikely to come off because of technical difficulties and cost. Sarah Fray, director of engineering and technical services at the Institution of Structural Engineers in London, told MailOnline that one of the biggest challenges would be to create the large span of glass to cover the court.  She said this would have to be at least 108 ft (33 metres) wide to accommodate the court and spectators. Currently, flat panels of glass can be manufactured in single pieces around 32 ft (10 metres) long - such as panels used in Apple’s store in Turkey - but new machinery would have to be invented to make larger panes of curved glass, the type of which would be needed for the design.

 Adding technical angle, Ms Fray said: ‘I don’t know if you could play tennis in it - there’s light refracting above and I don’t know how you’d control it. I can’t imagine players not finding the fish distracting either.' A concept of the building from the player's point of view is shown.  ‘The more joints there are, the more likely it would leak,’ Ms Fray said. ‘The design would also need to be thought out in terms of how it would react to an impact.  ‘Any boat would have to be kept well clear and a dropped anchor would destroy it,’ she warned, adding that the design would have to withstand earthquakes and tsunamis too.  ‘The technological challenges are big, but the human challenges are bigger,’ she said, explaining that there would have to be a way for the structure to be connected to the surface and easily evacuate people in the event of an emergency.

One cannot entirely dismiss it as a crazy idea – as there are some crazy people around – and perhaps tennis underwater too might become a possibility -  may not be the game for the ordinary game lover – but for rich aristocrats seeing funny things happening, even as a technical expert quipped that  'Water in general and seawater in particular is not colourless,' meaning that the outside may look murky.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

6th May 2015. 

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