Sports / Tennis

Yearender China sports: Li Na 'playing herself' in 2012

(Xinhua) Updated: 2012-12-24 15:54

Li's Slam-winning feat has been expected to spur the development of tennis in China, but given the performances of her compatriot players in the past season, there's a long way to go.

Zheng Jie, a former Grand Slam doubles winner and the current Chinese number two, started the season with her fourth title in career in an Auckland event, but after that Zheng failed to make more splash and finally ranked 26th in the world.

The much younger Peng Shuai also had an inconsistent season and had to settle with a 40th place finish on the world rankings.

In men's part, the Chinese players made some progress in 2012, raising hopes that China's struggling men could finally emerge from the shadows of their women's tennis stars.

Zhang Ze and Wu Di both broke into the Top 200 for the first time, ranked 158th and 183rd respectively.

Zhang made history in the China Open in October when he became the first Chinese man ever to beat a top 20 player, with a three-sets win over Richard Gasquet which put him into the China Open quarterfinals.

His defeat of the Frenchman, then ranked 14th, also meant China's number one got further in an ATP tournament than any other Chinese man in 17 years, after Pan Bing made the Seoul semifinals in 1995.

Yearender China sports: Li Na 'playing herself' in 2012

World No 184 player Wu Di returns a serve against Zhang Ze during the men's singles final of the 2012 Mercedes-Benz Cup China Tennis Grand Prix in Sanya, Hainan province, on Oct 29, 2012. Wu beat Zhang, 6-3, 6-4, to claim the domestic title and prize money of 90,000 yuan ($14,400). [Provided to China Daily]

Wu also made history by winning a wild card into the 2013 Australian Open and becoming the first Chinese male player in the Open Era to contest a Grand Slam main draw.

"Me and Zhang are good friends. We have played tennis together since our junior years, we've been like brothers," said Wu, who defeated Zhang en route to winning the wild card.

Both players have named Li as their guiding light.

"What I admire about her most is her perseverance. She is 30 years old now but still in the Top 10, competing with girls much younger than herself. She focuses so hard on tennis, from every minute of a training session, to what to eat and drink and when to sleep. She is just so professional on and off court," Wu said.

A different Li Na:

Li Na serves a gift of love to street kids

Related stories:

Yearender 2012 basketball


Previous Page 1 2 Next Page

Most Popular
What's Hot