epa03556022 Li Na of China in action during her match against Victoria Azarenka of Belarus in the women?s singles final of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne, Australia, 26 January 2012. EPA/JOE CASTRO 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.
It was Canada's time to shine in the United States on Sunday, when Milos Raonic battled Vasek Pospisil in the Washington, D.C. final. Now will it be Australia's time to shine in Canada on Monday? Lleyton Hewitt, Bernard Tomic, Marinko Matosevic, and Thanasi Kokkinakis make up a quartet of Australians in action at the Rogers Cup.
We are into the final few weeks leading up to the U.S. Open and almost nobody has more momentum than Milos Raonic and David Goffin. Raonic followed up his Wimbledon semifinal showing with a title on Sunday in Washington, D.C. Goffin is on a streak of 20 consecutive match wins and he captured his first career ATP title on Saturday in Kitzbuhel.
The Canada Masters, better known as the Rogers Cup, begins next week. But Milos Raonic and Vasek Pospisil figured they might as well not wait for their time to shine. The two Canadians are though to what will be the first-ever final between two men from Canada in the history of the ATP World Tour.
Rafael Nadal is out—at least for the next two tournaments—but a strong field will still be on hand for the Rogers Cup in Toronto. Among those back in action for the first time since Wimbledon are Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Stan Wawrinka, and Andy Murray.