epa03556709 Li Na of China in action her match against Victoria Azarenka of Belarus in the women?s singles final of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne, Australia, 26 January 2013. EPA/MARK DADSWELL AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND OUT |
While Li Na recovers from her Australian Open finals ankle injury with hopes of playing an exhibition in Hong Kong in three weeks, the tennis boom she unleashed with her French open title in 2011 shows no signs of abating. In fact, it’s only growing stronger as tennis takes a tight grip in the world’s most populous nation.
Li will now have a chance to compete in her home region after the WTA’s latest expansion, with an event now scheduled for 2014 in Wuhan south of Beijing. That will mark five tournaments in the upcoming WTA season in China.
There is no underestimating the drawing power of Li in China and elsewhere in the fast-growing tennis frontier of Asia.
“She’s massive. One is her persona, the way she presents herself is globally appealing, and the results she has produced has brought tennis to the forefront of everyone’s mind there,” said Peter Johnston, head of the WTA Asian office. “They’re very attracted to tennis as a new sport to develop, so we’ve got five WTA events in China next year and three at Challenger level.
“Another Grand Slam final just continues the story and keeps the foot on the gas as far as the momentum goes. It elevates her even further in Chinese stature in sport. There are about 40 Chinese girls on the WTA rankings and that’s going to increase. But she’s the poster girl.”
Li is also a Chinese social media phenomenon with 15 million followers on the equivalent of Twitter and sold 800,000 copies of her book. Up to 100 million viewers watched her historic French Open win two years ago.
Seeded players took care of business for the most part on Tuesday at the bet-at-home Open and the Claro Open Colombia. They compiled a 5-1 record and were one point away from being a perfect 6-0, as the lone blemish came when Marcel Granollers missed a match point in his second-round showdown against Dominic Thiem...
I wasn't able to make it to Carson for Tuesday's matches. I spend a lot of time trying to keep track of what's happening to some of my current or former students, or just to players I am interested in online. So, when I can't get video feeds of a match, I might keep track of the match statistics entered in real time by the umpire.
Rafael Nadal will return to London this November in an attempt to capture his first career season-ending Barclays ATP World Tour Finals title. Nadal joins three-time champion Novak Djokovic as the first two singles players to qualify for this year’s season finale, to be held at The O2 from 9-16 November.
I owe a big apology to the Yakima Tennis Club and their tournament director, AnnElise Anderson. I wrote "the only reason this event is here in Carson is it was going to be cancelled at its site up in the Pacific Northwest; the tournament basically folded". That was very poor reporting on my part. Yakima gave up the tournament because of a fire that destroyed the clubhouse.
Actually, there are no tournaments in Los Angeles anymore that afford the chance to earn ATP or WTA points. Carson is an independent incorporated city, but at least it is in Los Angeles county and we think of it as part of Los Angeles. This coming week’s (qualis start Sunday, July 13) is the USTA PLAYER DEVELOPMENT WOMEN'S $50,000 CLASSIC.