The headlines about Li Na’s latest knee injury have centered on the fact that she will miss the US Open later this month, but the real story is about ensuring her legacy.
Continue reading 李娜是中国网球一张永久的名片
Snooker may not be everybody’s cup of tea, but it’s perhaps the best example of the Chinese taking over a sport in a short space of time. Since Ding Junhui won his first China Open title in 2005 as an 18-year-old (he added his second on Sunday), the sport has grown so much here that there are now 13 Chinese in the world’s top 100 players, and five of the season’s 11 full ranking tournaments now take place in China. In TV viewing terms, it’s now firmly established in the second tier of sports (with basketball and soccer the only true Tier 1 occupants).
Any fan of snooker will be familiar with Stephen Hendry and Jimmy “The Whirlwind” White, two of the greatest players in history. Well, add Chinese player Ding Junhui to that list.
The China Open tennis has long been in the books: the 10th anniversary of the tournament saw a dream men’s final between the top two seeds, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, in which Djokovic won, but Nadal regained the world number 1 ranking. But as the best male players in the world face off in London at the season-ending ATP World Tour Finals, it has emerged that this dream final came within a whisker of not happening at all. The reason? The pollution was so bad that Rafa Nadal almost refused to walk out on court.
It should have been a triumphant weekend of sports for Beijing: China’s female golfing star, Feng Shanshan, took the inaugural Reignwood LPGA Classic by a single shot thanks to an eagle on the very last hole, the dream men’s final in the China Open tennis tournament saw no. 1 seed Novak Djokovic beat no. 2 seed Rafael Nadal, while on the women’s side Serena Williams won the tenth title of what is arguably the best year of her career.
But instead, everyone was talking about the weather.
It’s not just the women golfers who have been affected by Beijing’s lovely air this week. The China Open tennis reaches its conclusion today, and while the top players are too media savvy to say anything negative about the pollution in the Chinese capital, Sweden’s Robert Lindstedt has been more forthcoming:
So now I am in Beijing again. The city that cuts of days from your life every time you visit and breathe what they call air here. It’s a joke how smoggy it is here! I wonder what illnesses people will have here in about 20 years.
And a few days later:
The star-studded line-up that is the China Open (Djokovic, Nadal, Serena, Sharapova et al) is underway, with an intriguing match on Monday between China’s breakout star of recent weeks Zhang Shuai, who won the Guangzhou Open and reached the final of the Yinzhou Bank International Women’s Tennis Open in Ningbo last week, and Peng Shuai, a member of the old guard [UPDATE: Zhang Shuai won 6-3, 6-3]. Elsewhere, 2010 champion Caroline Wozniacki raised a few smiles with her discussion about her favorite opponent, Bye.
Things kicked off last week with a fun game between Li Na and Novak Djokovic that was more entertainment than tennis. Below is my Sports Talk take. Li Na continues to lead the Chinese women on the world stage. If only the men could catch up… Continue reading Li Na crushes Djokovic in China Open opener
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.