While it will likely have none of the animosity of that famous showdown between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs (which, incidentally, was 40 years ago this week), Beijing will stage its own Battle of the Sexes on Friday September 27 when women’s world no. 5 Li Na will play men’s world no. 1 Novak Djokovic at the National Tennis Center in northern Beijing to mark the 10th anniversary of the China Open.
Djokovic is the reigning China Open champion and has won the tournament on each of the three times he has played (’09, ’10, ’12), though he’s a much bigger draw these days than he was four years ago, when he had just a single Grand Slam title to his name. Rafael Nadal and David Ferrer are also expected to play, while the women’s draw should feature Serena Williams, Victoria Azaranka, Maria Sharapova, Agnieszka Radwanska and of course Li Na, who has twice reached the semifinals in Beijing and would love a maiden title in the capital.
On the subject of tennis, this look back of the 2004 Olympic women’s doubles competition is worth a read, and details the moment when Li Ting and Sun Tiantian put Chinese tennis truly on the map with their stunning win in Athens.