Two years on, Li Na still stands alone

Li Na's momentous French Open title win of 2011 was expected to open the floodgates for Asian -- and in particular Chinese -- players in world tennis.

Two years on, little has changed with sixth-ranked Li being the only Asian player currently ranked inside the woman's global top 30.

Compatriot Peng Shuai is 34th, Taiwan's Hsieh Su-Wei is 42nd and Ayumi Morita of Japan is one step further back.

India's Sania Mirza is now more focussed on her doubles play, while at 35 years old Tamarine Tanasugarn is firmly in the twilight of her career.

Li apart, none of the Asian contingent is expected to progress far in the draw on the claycourts at Roland Garros and that will come as a blow to the head of the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) Stacey Allaster, who has identified Asia as the bright future of tennis.

Allaster, who has recognised the importance of Li to the sport, is pulling out all the stops to commercialise the women's game on the continent, especially with flagging interest in the United States.

"She is the most important player of the decade for me," Allaster said recently.

"Tennis in the Asian-Pacific region has a lot of growth potential and the region could have nine tournaments next year if the season-ending WTA Championships is moved to Singapore or China's Tianjin."

As it turned out, Singapore won that contest to host the biggest tournament in the women's game outside of the four Grand Slam events.

Li's season to date has been somewhat of a roller-coaster, starting with a magnificent run into the final of the Australian Open in January where she lost to Victoria Azarenka after an epic battle which left her with a badly sprained left ankle.

That injury sidelined her until March when she returned to action at Miami, losing to Serena Williams in the quarter-finals.

Moving onto clay, Li lost in the final at Stuttgart to Maria Sharapova, but she then went out early in both Madrid and Rome.

Key to her chances in Paris will be the presence of Carlos Rodriguez, the former coach of Grand Slam winner Justine Henin, who has been helping the Chinese player since last summer.

Asked in Madrid what he brought to her game Li replied: "I have been training so hard with Carlos.

"I was so happy he could come to my team to coach me. I think for me, he's not only tennis coach. I think after I was working with him I feel much stronger in my mind and also much stronger on the court."

"I have to listen to him because I trust him a lot."

On top of that Li believes that she will come into Paris with less of the spotlight on her compared to last year when she was the defending champion.

"Last year in the French Open I didn't have any experience for being a defending champion. So, you know, I was feeling like, how you say, a little bit too much. If you do something always the camera was next to you.

"So I think this year should be better because I'm not the defending champion."

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • First China air force drills in 'far offshore' Pacific
    First China air force drills in 'far offshore' Pacific

    China's air force has carried out its first ever military drill over the western Pacific Ocean, state media said, highlighting Beijing's growing military reach. Several aircraft from China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) on Monday flew over the ocean via the Bashi Channel, which runs between Taiwan and the Philippines, the official Xinhua news agency said. "This is the first time that the PLA Air Force conducted such drills in an airspace far offshore from Chinese coastlines," Xinhua cited …

  • Shorter hours for rail lines tomorrow
    Shorter hours for rail lines tomorrow

    The Metro Rail Transit (MRT), Light Rail Transit (LRT) and the Philippine National Railways (PNR) will have shorter hours tomorrow for the replacement of defective railroad tracks during the Holy Week. …

  • Noy increases allowances for cops, soldiers
    Noy increases allowances for cops, soldiers

    President Aquino has signed a joint congressional resolution raising the daily subsistence allowance for both members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP). Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said Aquino signed last March 27 the merged Joint Resolution 2 of the Senate and Joint Resolution 26 of the House of Representatives. Speaking to reporters, Lacierda yesterday said the daily allowances of police officers and soldiers were raised from P90 …

  • Oil firms raise gas prices today
    Oil firms raise gas prices today

    This year’s Holy Week break will be accompanied by an increase in local pump prices after oil companies announced yesterday a P1.10 per liter hike for gasoline and P0.60 per liter for diesel effective today. “Phoenix Petroleum Philippines will increase the prices of gasoline by P1.10 per liter and diesel by P0.60 per liter effective 6 a.m. of March 31, 2015 to reflect the movements in the prices of refined petroleum products in the international market,” said Phoenix Petroleum, an independent …

  • DFA denies dropping Phl claim to Sabah
    DFA denies dropping Phl claim to Sabah

    The Philippines has never offered to drop its Sabah claim in exchange for Malaysia’s support for Manila’s arbitration case against China over the West Philippine Sea issue, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said yesterday. “In the context of our friendly bilateral relations, our two countries have been for years exchanging ways on how to address the issue of the extended continental shelf (ECS) in the South China Sea,” Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Jose said in explaining the DFA’s …

  • Pagcor remits record high P5 B to national treasury
    Pagcor remits record high P5 B to national treasury

    The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) has remitted P5 billion in cash dividends to the National Treasury, fully settling all its arrears incurred in the last several years. Pagcor chairman and chief executive officer Cristino Naguiat Jr. said with this year’s remittance, the state-owned gaming firm has fully settled all remaining arrears in cash dividends that were incurred by the previous administration since 2005. Pagcor’s cash dividends to the National Treasury under its …

  • Maysak moves closer to Phl
    Maysak moves closer to Phl

    The typhoon with international name Maysak slightly accelerated as it moved closer to the Philippines yesterday, threatening to dump rains over eastern Luzon this weekend, the state weather bureau said. Rene Paciente, senior weather forecaster of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), said Maysak was spotted at 2,175 kilometers east of Mindanao as of 1 p.m. yesterday. Paciente said based on their latest forecast, Maysak is likely to affect …

  • Phl gets P2-B climate projects from Germany
    Phl gets P2-B climate projects from Germany

    The Philippines is getting 41 million euros or around P2 billion from the International Climate Initiative (ICI) of Germany that will fund 10 bilateral projects to address the impact of climate change. Climate Change Commission (CCC) vice chairman Lucille Sering yesterday met with Norbert Gorissen – head of the International Climate Finance of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety – to discuss the projects, some of which will be …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options