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its not a bad result for her debut in tokyo :)

9,812 Posts
Li Na matures for greater success

Updated: 2007-02-07 16:24

Li Na has been described temperamental and even been accused of having a weak mentality.
But the 24-year-old from Wuhan has gone through the criticism and has proved her talent as she raced up the rankings from 277 in 2002 to sit at a career high 16 ahead of last month's Australian Open.

China's Li Na eyes the ball during her match against Switzerland's Martina Hingis at the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne January 22, 2007. [Reuters]
At last year's Wimbledon Li became the first Chinese player to reach the quarter-finals of a grand slam singles before losing to Belgian Kim Clijsters.
"I won't forgive myself if I get eliminated in the first round at the Grand Slams," Li said after pushing Martina Hingis to three sets in the fourth round of the Australian Open.
A former badminton player, Li made her debut in international tennis competitions in 1999 and rose to China's No. 1 soon after claiming four ITF titles. But she put an abrupt end to her promising career in 2002 and entered the Science and Technology University of Central China.
Li returned to competitive tennis at the beginning of 2004 and soon regained her status as the country's top player by winning three ITF races in a row and claiming China's first WTA title in Guangzhou.
"For sure, Li is one of the most talented players in China but her weak mentality hampers her improvement," National Tennis Management Center director Sun Jinfang told reporters last month.
Li, who is notorious for hot temper, said she is getting more mature.
"I used to blame others for losing but now I am learning to look for faults with myself," she said.
Li is the leading light of China's emergence as a tennis nation, with many tipping the country to rival what Russia has achieved (five women players in the top 10) in the coming few years.
"I hope more young players will come up," said Li. "Only when China has a lot of good players can we be considered a strength."
China has been aggressively pushing tennis since Sun Tiantian and Li Ting won a surprise women's doubles gold at the 2004 Olympics.
From having virtually no players capable of challenging the world's best just a few years ago, more than 50 Chinese women players are now listed by the WTA, the women game's governing body.
Two-thirds of them are floundering outside the top 500 but few are betting against at least some of them following in Li's footsteps. Sun Tiantian, Peng Shuai and Yuan Meng are also pushing for singles recognition, while China also has Grand Slam doubles champions in Zheng Jie and Yan Zi, who won the Australian Open and Wimbledon Open last year -- the country's first-ever Grand Slam titles.

9,812 Posts
Tennis chief aims to lighten up on Olympic team

China's tennis chief Sun Jinfang says she is working hard to take the pressure off players as the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games approach.
Sun's assurances came after the country's top player Li Na said during the recent Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo that she was becoming increasingly nervous about the intense pressure to achieve the "unrealistic goal" of medals at the Games.
Li, a quarterfinalist at Wimbledon last year, advanced to the final 16 in Tokyo last week before being dumped out of the tournament.
Sun, director of the Administrative Center of Tennis, said keeping her players relaxed is a top priority.
"I understand Li and I know she is under heavy pressure," Sun told China Daily.
"I know players are human beings, and I understand the feeling when the whole nation is watching you and expecting a lot from you because I was also a professional athlete some years ago."
A former volleyball player, Sun helped China win three world championships in the 1980's.
"We have been thinking about the right way to relax the players a little bit and we have taken some measures."
In a bid to help the rebellious Li, the center appointed her husband Jiang Shan as her coach, even though Jiang has no coaching qualifications and achieved little of note as a player.
Family involvement is not infrequent in international tennis, but a husband-wife coaching set-up is unprecedented in Chinese professional sporting history.
Romance is prohibited in most national teams to keep athletes focused on their games. Table tennis players and gymnasts even face the prospect of dismissal if caught engaged in physical displays of affection.
"I simply wanted her to feel better on the intense WTA Tour, so we did something hardly seen before in China's sporting history," Sun added.
China's hopes for tennis success in Beijing rose after Li Ting and Sun Tiantian won gold in the women's doubles at the 2004 Athens Olympics.
Adding to expectations is its female players' speedy improvements in the world rankings in recent years, with four now in the top 100 - Li (ranked 17), Zheng Jie (33), Peng Shuai (42) and Sun Tiantian (80).
"There's more pressure after what happened in Athens," said Li. "China will want to win gold in every sport, not just tennis."
But Sun believes Olympic gold is the top task for domestic players in light of the strong state support they receive. In contrast, European and American players usually fund their own careers as they chase down titles.
"For sure the Olympic Games is the most important tournament for Li and her teammates," she said.
"The authorities have invested so much money in coaching and sponsorship for women's tennis, and they offer everything they need to improve on the Tour, so it's the players' responsibility to compete for their country."
China ratcheted up the pressure on its female players last month to ensure they are at the top of their game come summer 2008.
First-round exits will not be considered acceptable and as of June this year players who are eliminated early may have to forfeit their prize money.
Chinese players are now training at a base in Jiangmen. They will leave for the United States after the Spring Festival.

9,812 Posts
China's Li smashes her way into round of 16 at Indian Wells

China's Li smashes her way into round of 16 at Indian Wells
td.yspwidearticlebody { font-size: 13.5px; }by Greg Heakes
March 11, 2007
INDIAN WELLS, United States (AFP) - Chinese firebrand Li Na battled back under the sweltering California sun to defeat Alona Bondarenko 5-7, 6-3, 6-2 in a third round match at the Pacific Life Open Sunday.
The 25-year-old from Hubei province advanced to the round of 16 where she will face the winner of a match between Martina Muller and seventh seeded Jelena Jankovic.
"I had a good start in the second set and then she came back," Li said. "I told myself to just play my game which is to use my backhand and keep wearing her down from the baseline."
if(window.yzq_d==null)window.yzq_d=new Object();window.yzq_d['2KraAM6.IsU-']='&U=13bdbeuv2%2fN%3d2KraAM6.IsU-%2fC%3d518724.10385602.11028438.1806201%2fD%3dLREC%2fB%3d4392733';With temperatures slated to peak at 37 degrees Celcius (98 Fahrenheit) Sunday, 22-year-old Bondarenko eventually succumbed to the heat and Li's backhand.
"It was a tough match," Li said. "Today was so hard because of the heat. I woke up this morning and I wanted to sleep the whole day but I told myself I better get up because I have a match to play."
She said the turning point in the match was winning the second set.
"After the second set I got more confidence. She had a lot of misses early in the third and then I just held on," said Li, who is travelling with husband Jiang Shan.
Li enjoyed a breakthrough season last year, becoming the first Chinese woman to be ranked in the top 20.
She is the 12th seed at Indian Wells, and if she wins her next match this would be her best finish ever at the 5.3 million dollar hardcourt tournament.
Li, a quarter-finalist at Wimbledon last year, is now 10-5 in 2007. She is China's best hope for a medal in women's singles at the 2008 Beijing Olympics but says she is not thinking about the Summer Games just yet. "Right now I want to improve my ranking," Li said. "Maybe next year I will get ready and start thinking about Beijing."

9,812 Posts
Children of the 80s show talent for trouble

Laptop, iPod and Blackberry phone: China's tennis chief Sun Jinfang was surprised at the contents of star player Li Na's bag as she packed up after the US Open last year.
"Everything is changing so fast," Sun, who led China's women's volleyball team to multiple world champions in the 1980s, said in an interview with China Daily after the September tournament. "Society is changing, and so are our sports teams and athletes. Sometimes I find dealing with them exhausting."
Like Sun, many Chinese coaches and officials are complaining that athletes born in the 1980s are moving away from the team spirit that first made China a sporting powerhouse.
"There was no 'me' in our team when I was a volleyball player some 20 years ago. The team was the only unit we had," Sun said. "I did everything for the team, not myself, and I think that was the key to our success."
However, the post-1980, One-Child Policy generation are thinking in a different way.
Unlike their parents and grandparents, they grew up in relative affluence and have endured little hardship. They missed the years of war, the rigors of postwar construction and the single-minded drive to catch up to the United States.
This generation are advocates of individualism, and from the point of view of the coaches, this means trouble.
Twenty-year-old Peng Shuai, Li Na's national teammate, raised a ruckus last year when she refused to get up at 7am for training at the team's base in Jiangmen, Guangdong Province.
"I simply cannot wake up in the morning and I should train at the time I want to," she told head coach Jiang Hongwei.
Officials swiftly got their revenge by making doubles specialist and early-riser Sun Tiantian her new roommate.
Li herself is no stranger to controversy. As well as quitting the team in 2001 and consistently complaining about the quality of coaching, she is also a famed shopaholic.
After splashing out $3,000 on clothes and shoes for her husband during the WTA Dubai Open last year, Li admitted to "going shopping as long as I have some spare time at tournaments."
"I like walking around markets and buying things for my husband and myself. It's quite enjoyable," she added.
The most notorious incident in recent months involved billiards player Zhou Mengmeng, 19, who accused a male teammate of sexually harassing her at December's Doha Asian Games before quitting the tournament.
Officials were angry that Zhou, a Gucci addict who has spoken of her collection of 30 bags, used the media to vent her anger and banned her from domestic competition.
But then her father, a wealthy snooker club owner from Shanghai, responded by filing a lawsuit. The dispute was resolved only when the lawsuit was dropped and Zhou issued a public apology.
"The athletes from one-child families are self-oriented and lack discipline," Deng Yaping, a former table tennis world champion and now member of the Athletes Commission of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), told China Daily last week.
"They have very few opportunities to learn about society and suddenly when they become successful everything is wide open for them. This means it's easy to lose control."
Rising prizing money is another reason for the changing attitudes.
NBA All-star center Yao Ming tops the Forbes 2007 Chinese celebrity rich list with 260 million yuan ($34 million) and 110-meter hurdles world record holder Liu Xiang follows with 58 million yuan ($7.5 million).
Grand Slam champions Zheng Jie and Yan Zi ranked 12th after their combined prize money and sponsorship revenues topped 14 million yuan ($1.8 million).
"I couldn't image so much money when I played volleyball. I just wanted to contribute to my country and never thought about payback," said Sun. "But now there are too many temptations."
Team spirit
Liu Guoliang, head coach of national table tennis team, said team spirit is badly needed ahead of the Beijing Olympics.
"I think the spirit is the reason behind our success. You can win nothing without it," he said last year, after kicking Qiu Yike off the national team for getting drunk. "Some of them are selfish and are not mentally as strong as those born in the 1970s. I prefer personality during their matches, not in their social lives."
Another men's table tennis player, Chen Qi, landed himself in hot water with Liu when he kicked a chair and threw his bat after losing in the 2006 Asian Cup.
Authorities punished him by forcing him to spend a week in an army boot camp and another week in a poor rural area, to help him "realize how good his life is and see how poor people live their lives."
Liu later attempted to improve discipline by inviting the country's first astronaut Yang Liwei to lecture players.
Li Na, however, has said her reputation as a troublemaker is undeserved.
"I don't really like being called a maverick or anything like that," she told China Daily last year.
"I have never tried to challenge the authority of the Chinese Tennis Association (CTA), never. I've always felt we are a family and the CTA are my parents. How can I leave my family when trivial problems occur?"
"I am very calm now. I've realized I need to get used to the environment around me and be on my best behavior at all times if I want to keep on improving my tennis on tour."
Deng admitted the fault was not all with the young athletes.
"The problems are normal to some degree," she said. "They are young, famous and rich, you cannot avoid trouble in this situation.
"We need better management, different from the old ways. We need to tell them what is right and not just punish them."
"Those born after 1980 are very active and charismatic, so we have to improve ourselves before managing them," Xin Qingshan, former national short-track skating team, was quoted as saying on "We should try to protect them because the country invests so much in training top athletes. "
Source: China Daily

1,429 Posts
not sure if it is posted before.

Chinese Trailblazer Is Used to Going Her Own Way

INDIAN WELLS, Calif., March 14 — Li Na, who advanced to the semifinals of the Pacific Life Open on Wednesday, remembers the first time she defied her coach in China.

At one practice when she was 11, the coach told her, “You must continue,” even though Li said she was tired. Li refused. Again, the coach said, “You must.” Li still said no.

That strict sports school was no place for insubordination. Li was ordered to stand in the same spot during practices until she apologized, which meant staying put for several hours in the morning and several more in the afternoon. It took the stubborn Li three days before she said sorry.

“For a long time after that, if the boss said, ‘Go,’ I went because that’s what people do in China,” Li said after beating Russia’s Vera Zvonareva, 6-4, 7-5. “Now, I’m different. If the boss say, ‘Go,’ I don’t go. I don’t care what they say.”

Li, 25, is ranked No. 17 in the world and No. 1 in China. She has been a trailblazer for Chinese tennis: the first to win a WTA Tour event; the first to break into the top 30 in the rankings; the first to advance to the quarterfinals in a Grand Slam event.

She reached a career-high No. 16 last year after advancing to the quarterfinals at Wimbledon. This year, at the Australian Open, she lost in the quarterfinals to Martina Hingis.

Mary Joe Fernandez, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and an analyst for ESPN, said Li had the talent to break into the top 10, calling her a powerful player with one of the best two-handed backhands in the game. She said Li just needed more experience. “I’m not surprised she’s improving so fast, either,” Fernandez said, “because China is really pushing to have athletes ready for the Olympics.”

Li’s ability has given her personal freedom in a country that frowns on individuality. She is not forced to travel or eat with her compatriots on the WTA Tour. She has her own coach, who is also her husband, and a personal fitness coach.

If she practices with the national team, she said, she feigns an injury if she wants to take a break. Li, quick-witted and spunky, has figured out how to bend the rules. “Because I have potential in tennis, they let me do certain things,” she said. :lol:

Li is proud of her rebellious streak. She has multiple piercings on each ear, which she said angered her federation and national coaches.

“When I don’t play well, they say, ‘See, it’s because of the earrings!’ ” she said, giggling as her silver dangly earrings swished.

Li said she loved tennis because it had allowed her to see the world, an opportunity unavailable to most of her countrymen. But there was a time she thought differently.

Having played since she was 8, she grew sick of the sport by the time she was 20, quitting to enroll in a university. Two years later, she was coaxed back to her city team. Soon, she returned to the national team. That same year, 2004, she won her first WTA Tour event.

“She has been a great player since then,” Zvonareva said Wednesday. “Now I think the younger generation of Chinese players look up to her as a hero. All of tennis in China will get better because she gives them a reason to believe in themselves.”

Although Li is China’s best hope for a singles medal at the Beijing Olympics next year, she still must deal with criticism from her tennis federation, to which she gives a percentage of her winnings.

Officials have disapproved of what they call her hot temper, her hardheadedness and her love of shopping, which they say ruins her focus. (In a publicized shopping spree in Dubai last year, Li spent $3,000 on clothing and makeup.)

Last month, the China Tennis Association chief, Sun Jinfang, said that Li’s “weak mentality hampers her improvement." Sun has also called Chinese players “chokers.”

Still, Li showed incredible focus when she rebounded from a 5-1 deficit in the second set to beat Zvonareva. She saved three set points, not shaken by the heat or by Zvonareva, who the day before toppled the world’s No. 1, Maria Sharapova.

But even if she had not won, Li said, there would have been an upside: shopping in nearby Palm Springs.

“Before, I was told that shopping made my tennis bad,” she said. “But now the coach says you just play tennis and stay happy. They say, ‘If you want to go shopping, maybe you’d feel better and play better.’ I think so, too.”

9,812 Posts
Time to look out for Li

Photo Gallery
2007 Pacific Life Open - March 13
<A class=blink href="javascript:NewWindow('680','780','/apps/pbcs.dll/gallery?Avis=J1&Dato=20070313&Kategori=EVENTS10&Lopenr=703140801&Ref=PH&Profile=1002&SectionCat=sports')">2007 Pacific Life Open - March 14

Wade Byars, The Desert Sun
Na Li of China returns to Vera Zvonareva of Russia on Wednesday during the Pacific Life Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. Li won 6-4, 7-5.
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Larry Bohannan
The Desert Sun
March 15, 2007 March 15, 2007
INDIAN WELLS - Apparently, it's beat No. 1 and your done at the Pacific Life Open this week.

Vera Zvonareva knocked out No. 1 seed Maria Sharapova on Tuesday, only to suffer a second-set collapse in a 6-4, 7-5 quarterfinal loss to Li Na of China on Wednesday on the Stadium Court of the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.
That's almost the exact path followed earlier this week by Guillermo Cañas in the men's draw of the tournament. Cañas beat No. 1 Roger Federer on Sunday, only to drop a straight-set match to Carlos Moya on Monday.
For Li, seeded 12th this week, the win put her in her second semifinal of the year. She lost in three sets to Kim Cjlisters in the semifinals in Sydney, Australia, earlier this year.
Li's second-set rally surprised not only the fans but some of the match officials.
"Funny, it was 4-1 I was down," Li said. "Then the chair umpire said, 'After the second set, you have 10 minutes for a break.' I said, 'Oh, OK.' Then I come to the court, and I feel, oh, the weather was not (hot). It's good for me."
Li won the first set Wednesday, taking advantage of errors both on the 17th-seeded Zvonareva's serve and her ground strokes. But Zvonareva looked like she would easily square the match when she took a 5-1 lead in the second set. The Russian's service problems continued, though, and that allowed Li to mount her comeback.
Li held serve to get to 2-5, then held off a set point to break Zvonareva to start the comeback in earnest. At 5-4, Zvonareva and Li engaged in a 14-point game, with Li holding off two set points before winning the game. Zvonareva double faulted twice in the game, part of a match that saw her hit on just 59 percent of her first serves.
Li said she was never too concerned on the set points against her.

"I think, 'OK, I put the ball back.' And then if I put the ball back, I still have a chance to play this. If I lose the point, after 10 minutes, you come to the court, you don't know how you can play."

Squared at 5-5, Li won eight of the last 10 points in the match, including breaking Zvonareva at love in the final game.
Li's run in the Pacific Life Open this week should help her improve her world ranking of 12th in the world. But Li said she's not focusing on year-long goals or even the 2008 Beijing Olympics. "If I play this tournament, I will focus for this tournament," Li said. "If I play Miami, I focus for Miami."

9,812 Posts

6,016 Posts

29,528 Posts
I just saw this interview in GM from Na after her Indian Wells SF


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Na Li, please.

Q. It appeared that the break after the second set really changed your momentum and your game wasn't the same when you came back, especially because you'd been playing very well at the end of the second. Was it the heat or was it loss of momentum?
NA LI: You mean the final set?

Q. Final set, yes.
NA LI: I mean, you know, final set start, actually because I know I was a little bit tired. I just want to hit a lot of winner, because I didn't want play a lot in the court. I want to hit, like, one or two good shots and then finish the point. So but I miss a lot.
And after three games, I think, "Okay. All you can do." Nothing you do. Always miss. And then she never miss. She win all the points, yeah.

Q. How disappointing is it to lose the match on two double faults? Is it disappointing, the two double faults at the end?
NA LI: Yeah.

Q. Is it disappointing to lose that way?
NA LI: I don't want to put double fault to end in the match, but I don't know why. I can't serve in the court, yeah.

Q. She was taking a long time at the end between points.
NA LI: Mm-hmm.

Q. Did that bother you or is it okay?
NA LI: It's okay for me, yeah, because if I play, like, long point, I would like her, take a long time to break and then play the next point, yeah.

Q. I think you're the first Chinese to reach semifinal of a Tier I or a Grand Slam tournament. When you look back, do you feel it's been a positive tournament for you?
NA LI: Yeah, of course. You know, I was second time to play Indian Wells, so I got semifinals this year. If I play -- the next tournament, I go Miami, so more practice for me to play Miami or tournament, yeah.

Q. How did that heat affect you, because you had to take a break? Was it difficult to play in the heat?
NA LI: It's okay. Yeah, it's okay.

Q. But you took a break and then you came back and then --
NA LI: Yeah, I mean, on the ten-minute break, I think more time. Yeah, maybe just rest ten minutes and then come to court hot, because I think about the weather was hot, so the weather was more hot.

Q. So you felt more tired today?
NA LI: Yeah, I think, okay, I tired from my legs, so I think my legs was more heavy, yeah.

Q. What lessons do you think you learned about your tennis game from this match? What lessons will you take?
NA LI: What do you mean "lesson"?

Q. Learn. What did you learn from this match?
NA LI: Oh, okay. For me, I didn't control the point for this match. Because, I mean, I hit a lot of winner, but I have a lot of miss in the court. So I give opponent lot free points. So maybe she think, "Okay. If I serve to her, just I can win easy point, yeah."

Q. I didn't see the first set, end of the set, end of the second set. You didn't seem to have a coach there. Did you have a coach there with you today?
NA LI: Yeah, I have.

Q. Did he come out and talk to you after the first set?
NA LI: No, I didn't say for the coach, because I want to try for myself. I want to play myself, yeah. Because for this tournament, I didn't sign for the coach. But my coach was watch play every match, yeah.

Q. I think you were speaking to your husband or your coach in Chinese. What were you saying?
NA LI: I saw "Ha, always miss" (Laughing).

Q. Next time you're playing in such heat, maybe it would be a good idea not to think of the heat. You say I think the weather was hot, so the weather was more hot, so forget it.
NA LI: Yes, and if I play hot weather, I think, okay it's cold.

Q. What was the difference, do you think, between your serving in the second set and the third set, because you served a lot better in the second set?
NA LI: Yeah, because I say, because I come to court, I feel my legs was heavy, so I can't jump, hit big serve, yeah.

Q. During the break, did you drink a lot of water or what did you do during the ten-minute break?
NA LI: I was sitting in golf cart and drink a lot of Gatorade.

Q. Just one whole bottle?
NA LI: No, just small bottle, yeah.

Q. You're very close to making top 10. Do you think about that or not?
NA LI: I think every player, they want top 10, but you need -- I mean, you need hard work, play a good tournament. I mean, I would try to play good tournament. I try my best already. I lose the matches. Okay. I can play next one or I can come next year. So I will learn the -- how to get top 10.

Q. Is it difficult to come this close to making the final and then missing or more disappointing?
NA LI: Because now I lose, so I think, "Okay. If I win, I got final." So I can -- I will be -- come back for next year, yeah. I will try next year.

Q. When do you leave for Miami? Today? Tomorrow?
NA LI: I don't know. I didn't buy the flight ticket.

Q. You didn't buy the ticket?
NA LI: I want to go shopping for tomorrow and maybe leave after tomorrow.

Q. Where will you go shopping?
NA LI: They say there is outlet near here.

Q. The what?
NA LI: Outlet, outlet. A lot of Chinese girls, they go yesterday. So I said you shopping for that. So I want to go there.

Q. They make announcement in Chinese.
NA LI: Yeah?

Q. Announcement in the shopping center.
NA LI: Oh yeah? I didn't know that. Okay. I will see tomorrow.

Q. What are you going to buy?
NA LI: Everything, if I like it.

Q. Sounds like you're going to spend the day.
NA LI: Yeah, because, I mean, I play semifinal here, I want to buy some gift for myself, yeah, and play next tournament, yeah.

:lol: :bowdown:

3,027 Posts
The National Reform and Development Commission has reportedly approved 330 million yuan ($52 million) for Hubei province to build the stadium.

According to an official from the Hubei Sports Bureau, the design of the stadium hasn't been finished yet. It was originally to be named the "Li Na Tennis Stadium" but later was changed to the "Li Na Comprehensive Stadium" to allow other sports.

The stadium will be completed within two years and hold 8,000 people.
- Hubei to build $52m Li Na stadium, Updated: 2012-05-29 15:27,

“I used to look at Serena Williams and Maria and I was like ‘Wow, they are stars’ because they both had huge big sponsors,” Li said. “I now have 12 sponsors after I won the French Open. Max was working hard.
- China’s Li Says No Pressure From $42 Million French Open Win, By Danielle Rossingh - May 28, 2012 8:52 AM MT,

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