Call to move Open to Shanghai
January 20, 2008
CHINESE No1 Li Na called for the Australian Open to be moved to Shanghai , saying the city's climate was better for tennis than Melbourne.
Li backed the prospect of shifting the season-opening Grand Slam, which has been played in Australia since 1905, after losing to Polish qualifier Marta Domachowska 2-6, 6-2, 6-4 in the third round of this year's tournament.
“I'd like it in Shanghai,” the tournament 24th seed said.
“It would be only and hour-and-a-half (flight) from my hometown (Wuhan).
“Also the weather for us is tough, it's so hot in Australia. It wasn't too bad this year but last year it was tough.
“In China at this time of year it's colder, better weather for tennis.”
Defending Australian Open champions Roger Federer and Serena Williams have opposed any move to switch the tournament's venue,
Federer, who has won three of his 12 Grand Slam trophies in Melbourne, said Australia's rich history in hosting a tennis major since 1905 should be respected, rather than rotate it to Asia-Pacific nations like China or Japan.
The 2007 Australian Open drew record crowds of 554,858 and has topped a half-million fans for the fortnight since 2000.
Li, a quarter-finalist at Wimbledon in 2006, was philosophical about her Australian Open exit, saying she was satisfied with her performance at the tournament.
She won an Open lead-up tournament on Australia's Gold Coast and was hoping to replicate her good form throughout the year.
“It's been good, I've only lost once this year.”
On the loss to Domachowska, she joked: “It's OK, it gives me more time to go shopping.”