Teams considered to be the best in the world by the Laureus Academy over the past decade have included FC Barcelona, the European Ryder Cup team and China’s Olympic squad.
But you would be hard pushed to find a more dominant team in world sport right now than the women’s doubles partnership of China’s Peng Shuai and Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei. In winning the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells last weekend, the pair moved to 11-0 in finals. I’ve searched high and low to find some comparable dominance – in tennis and elsewhere – and I’m still looking.
Will it be third time lucky for Li Na at the Australian Open? A dominant semifinal performance saw Li put Canada’s rising star Genie Bouchard firmly in her place, racing to a 5-0 first set lead in just 14 minutes, before cruising to a 6-2, 6-4 win.
Li will play Dominika Cibulkova – Slovakia’s first Grand Slam finalist – on Saturday evening in Melbourne and will start as the heavy favorite in her third Australian Open final in four years, against an opponent she’s never lost to in four matches. But in a tournament full of upsets, who’s to say there won’t be one more? Continue reading Li Na & sponsors hoping for Australian Open history→
No, we’re not talking about a Brazilian here. Chinese tennis superstar Li Na recently unveiled a wax statue of herself at the Madame Tussauds museum in her hometown of Wuhan, ahead of the museum’s official opening on September 28. Li Na is to Wuhan what pandas are to Chengdu so a statue of her was a must, especially since the WTA Tour will visit Wuhan for the first time in September 2014. The likeness is…well…interesting.
Saturday’s Australian Open women’s tennis final will be an all-Nike affair as Li Na faces off against Victoria Azarenka. Nothing particularly unusual there, given that the US sportswear giant also sponsors Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams. But Nike won’t quite have it all its own way.
That’s because Li Na has a deal – unique among Nike’s stable of tennis superstars that also includes Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer – that allows her to have two other brands on her shirt in addition to the Nike swoosh. Those two? The well-known car company Mercedes-Benz, and the less well-known insurance company Taikang Life.
With Li leading the way, Mercedes has projected that China will be its biggest market by 2015, so paying $4.5 million to get the company’s logo on Li’s right sleeve for three years would seem to be money well spent.