Chinese women players show glimpse of future
Updated: 2006-01-18 06:59
MELBOURNE, Australia: A few years ago, the Russians were coming.
Now it's the Chinese who are shaping
up as the next big thing in women's tennis.
Sun Tiantian reacts
during her play against third-seeded Mauresmo .
There were seven Chinese in the main singles draw of the Australian Open. As
of yesterday, two were left after first-round matches, most of them losing to
seeded players or players ahead of them in the rankings.
Li Na took defending champion Serena Williams to three sets on Monday, and
Sun Tiantian, one-half of the Athens Olympics gold medallist doubles team for
China, gave third-seeded Amelie Mauresmo a tough time yesterday before losing in
"Everyone talks about the Russians, I always thought the Chinese have a great
slew of players coming up," Williams said before her match. "Not only are they
in the draw, but they're actually doing well."
Well, not so well this week.
On Monday, three went out - Russian Elena Vesnina beat Li Ting 6-2, 6-3,
Ashley Harkleroad of the United States defeated Peng Shuai 6-4, 6-1 and Williams
beat Li Na 6-3, 6-7 (1), 6-2.
The third-seeded Mauresmo beat Sun 4-6, 6-2, 6-2 yesterday while Anna
Chakvetadze of Russia defeated Zheng Jie 5-7, 6-2, 6-4.
But in two other matches yesterday, Yan Zi upset 11th-seeded Nathalie Dechy
of France 6-7 (5), 6-2, 6-3 and qualifier Yuan Meng defeated Melinda Czink of
Hungary 6-4, 6-2.
Sun, Yan and Yuan were all making their Australian Open singles debuts.
In 2002, there were no Chinese women in the top 100 on the WTA Tour. Now
there are seven in the top 200, three of them in the 50s.
Li Na is ranked 52nd this week, one ahead of Peng, while Zheng is 55. Yan is
88th, Sun 103rd, Yuan 152 and Li Ting 195.
While they have not come close to winning a Grand Slam like the new wave of
Russians did in 2004 - Anastasia Myskina (French Open) Maria Sharapova
(Wimbledon) and Svetlana Kuznetsova (US Open) - there have been some Chinese