From the Australian Open site! Best of luck to this excellent doubles team. (And I even saw them live!
) They have come a long way from the 50K level (In St. Paul where I saw them) to their current Slam ranking of 16! Best of luck against Paola and Virginia!
Chinese pair excited to be back
by Chris McAsey
Friday, January 23, 2004</I>
Last year, two young Chinese women, Tian Tian Sun and Ting Li, turned up at the start of the Australian Open clutching a letter of introduction from the Chinese Tennis Association. They had heard the Australian Open was offering wildcard entries for Asian players, and, oh, was it OK if they played in the tournament?
As Tennis Australia officials patiently explained, the Australian Open's wildcard offer to Asian Championship winners in 2003 was only available for singles players.
But as luck would have it, a women's doubles pair dropped out at the last minute to free up a space in the draw, and Tian Tian and Ting made their Grand Slam debut, appropriately, at the first Grand Slam of Asia/Pacific.
Despite a first-round exit in 2003, the girls have used their Grand Slam experience at the Australian Open to catapault themselves into a successful year on the circuit, winning WTA tournaments in Pattaya (Thailand), Quebec and Vienna and finishing the year on a 16-match winning streak
This year, Tian Tian and Ting didn't need a wildcard entry to the Australian Open.
They returned this week as the No.16 seeds and to top it off, scored their first Grand Slam win on Wednesday over Indonesian Wynne Prakusya and Ukrainian Elena Tatarkova before crushing Japanese pair Saori Obata and Shinobu Asagoe 6-0 6-2 in the second round on Friday.
Speaking through an interpreter, Tian Tian, 22, from the ancient Chinese province of Henan, said she was 'very excited' to be back at the Australian Open.
"I felt very nervous last year because it was my first appearance in a Grand Slam," Tian Tian, whose name means 'sweet' in Mandarin, said after completing her second round match.
"I was frustrated because we lost in the first round, but we were very thankful to the Australian Open for giving us a wildcard."
Tian Tian was full of praise for coach Zhang Qi, also from Henan, who she said had developed the duo's game plan - which was executed to perfection in overpowering the Japanese pair.
Both girls are more than 175cm tall and play power tennis - Ting Li possesses a big serve-and-volley game, while Tian Tian is an athletic all-court player.
The Chinese contingent at the Open is a close-knit unit, sharing a traditional Chinese New Year meal together on Wednesday night at Tian Tian and Ting's rented apartment.
But there is also some rivalry in the camp. With a 2004 Olympics doubles berth at stake, Tian Tian and Ting Li are locked in a struggle with Chinese pair Jie Zheng (China's No. 1 singles player) and Zi Yan, who will play their second-round match on the weekend.
Tian Tian said qualifying for the Olympics was the pair's main aim for 2004.
"The more matches we win, the more confident we feel," Tian said. "So we hope that after our performance here we will be able to qualify for the Olympic Games."
Here at the Open, Tian Tian said the girls have set themselves to reach the semi-finals -and they are clearly beginning to enjoy the winning feeling.
"We feel very honored to be seeded at the Australian Open," Tian Tian said with a smile.
"We are very excited to have the chance to be here."
Footnote: The Australian Open officially introduced an Asian wildcard entry for both men's and women's doubles and mixed doubles in 2004.
The 2004 women's doubles wildcard recipients were Seiko Okamoto and Ryoko Takemura of Japan. The two nervous girls came up against second-seeds Martina Navratilova and Lisa Raymond, losing in straight sets 6-0 6-1.
* Thank you to Xinyi Hua of Xinmin Evening News for translation.