Peng Shuai has decided to split with long-time mentor Alan Ma, however there are no hard feelings.
The world No 32 attributed her tears after losing in the second round at the Australian Open to her parting of ways with coach Ma, but stressed the decision wasn't an impulsive one.
China’s Peng Shuai has split with coach Alan Ma. [Photo/Agencies]
"It's not like he felt angry about my performance and we had to divorce after a quarrel," said Peng, who wept in front of the media after losing to Maria Kirilenko. "It was a well-considered decision made after a long talk and I understood him very well."
Peng said it was Ma who brought up the idea, claiming he wanted to spend more time with his family.
"I've been working as a tennis coach since 1989. It's been more than 20 years of traveling around the world without enough time with my family," Ma told Chinese media on Saturday.
"I am getting older and older. It's too tough for me to still work on the court for 100 hours every week like I did before. It's time for a change of lifestyle for me," said the Chinese-American, who runs a tennis academy in Florida.
Starting a long-term partnership with Peng in 2010 after brief workouts in 2005, Ma was considered the driving force behind Peng's consistent performances which saw her reach the top 20.
Ma also supervises China's promising female player Zheng Saisai and Chinese Taipei's former boys' world No 1 Yang Tsung-hua with a crew including traveling coach Timothy Nichols of the US and Italian fitness trainer Marco Panici.
Ma will continue to oversee Peng's career as her crew leader and he has already found a coaching replacement.
Frenchman Guillaume Peyre, who helped China's leading male, Zhang Ze, reach a record ranking of 154 last year, will be Peng's new personal coach after his contract with Zhang expired at the end of last year.
However, Peyre's move from Zhang to Peng might be the result of their provincial teams aiming for a better finish at this year's National Games, according to a Guangzhou Daily report.
The Jiangsu team paid Peyre for helping Zhang over the past two years but failed to match a more lucrative deal provided by Peng's Tianjin squad, which expects his international experience to boost its squad.
According to the report, Peyre joined the Tianjin contingent at a winter camp in Guangzhou last month.
Still, Ma, who retains close ties with the Tianjin sports bureau, refused to say if he enticed the Frenchman to work with Tianjin.