I don’t mean to patronize Wu Di (吴迪), but his first round loss to Croatia’s Ivan Dodig at the Australian Open is still something to be celebrated.
The 21-year-old from Wuhan became the first Chinese man to play in the main draw of a Grand Slam tournament in the professional era. He had qualified via a wildcard playoff in Nanjing last year, and despite an early break at the start of the match and a solid second set, he went down 5-7, 6-4, 3-6, 3-6.
No one – not the fans, not the bookmakers, not even Wu himself – expected the youngster to overcome the world number 74 in Melbourne. That much was clear from Wu’s post-match comments, when he conceded that Dodig is a much better player.
Continue reading When a loss is really a win
Not related to China or Asia, but here is my first Sports Talk column for the Global Times:
China and Japan may be duking it out for territorial bragging rights in the East China Sea, but on the tennis court it is very much advantage China.
The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) announced this week that, from 2014, a new tournament in Wuhan will replace the Toray Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo, which will celebrate a bittersweet 30th – and last – anniversary this year.
This is shaping up to be a huge tournament, with at least seven of the year-end ranked top 10 players due to appear in Li Na’s hometown, competing for more than $2 million in prize money.
Continue reading China 1, Japan love
12 years after China’s Olympic coming out party, Tokyo is aiming to be the next Asian city to host a Summer Olympics as one of three candidate cities for 2020. And the signs are looking good.
On September 7 in Buenos Aires, IOC President Jacques Rogge will declare victory for one of Tokyo, Istanbul and Madrid, and, if the bookmakers are to be believed, Tokyo is the favorite, noticeably ahead of Istanbul and significantly ahead of Madrid.
Continue reading Tokyo’s Olympic bid on track
The National Hockey League seems to have resolved its lockout – finally – but it will likely find that few people in North America care, let alone further afield. It left me wondering, though, whether a similar lockout could happen in China, or anywhere in Asia.
On the surface, a lockout of any league seems such an asinine proposition: the bottom line is that if there are no games, then there’s no revenue, and that’s bad for everyone (though you could argue that for clubs who lose money, it stops the rot for a time).
And the whole thing causes so much ill will among fans and media, not to mention all those who depend on the sport for their livelihood, such as arena workers and local restaurants, that it sets the sport back years.
Continue reading Could China see a sports lockout?
Well, he might be. OK, so he probably won’t be. In fact, he almost certainly will choose to play elsewhere. But that doesn’t make for a good headline, especially where the UK tabloids are concerned.
The problem with the tabloids is that they have absolutely no obligation to tell the truth when it comes to this sort of thing. Throw in the odd “insiders say” or “a source close to the couple” and you can make up whatever you want and stick it on the back page. Which is exactly what the tabloids do.
Continue reading Beckham is coming to play in China
Just write it (with apologies to a global sportswear giant, but despite the name of the blog, I won’t be favouring any one of them over another). This blog has been in the works for a while now, so, as we start a new year, what better time to kick it off?
I’ll be covering anything that could be construed as sports business, as long as there is some sort of China/Asia angle: international sports or leagues trying to crack the China market, Chinese companies trying to make it overseas, sports events in Asia, sponsorship matters, and likely a bunch more besides.