Despite taking the first set 6-2, Li Na lost the final of the WTA Championships in Istanbul (the last before the end-of-season showpiece moves to Singapore next year), as world number one Serena Williams won the next two sets 6-3, 6-0. It was Serena’s 11th title of the year, and her 10th win in 11 games against Li Na, but after going into the game as a massive underdog, Li can be happy she at least forced a third set. Crucially, she now moves up to 3rd in the world rankings – a career high – by leapfrogging both Maria Sharapova and Agnieszka Radwanska.
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
Zhang Shuai has become just the fifth Chinese player to win a WTA singles title. Li Na has eight titles, Zheng Jie has four, Yan Zi and Sun Tiantian each have one, and now Zhang joins that elite group after a 7-6, 6-1 win over American Vania King in the final of the Guangzhou Open. Interestingly, Peng Shuai has never won a WTA singles title despite having been as high as 14 in the world rankings.
The big news from the tennis world this weekend was not, of course, Andy Murray becoming Britain’s first winner of the men’s Wimbledon title for 77 years, but China’s Peng Shuai teaming up with Hsieh Su-wei from Taiwan to win the women’s doubles title. Taiwanese media pointed out that President Ma Ying-jeou, Vice President Wu Den-yih, Premier Jiang Yi-huah and Minister of Education Chiang Wei-ling all sent Hsieh congratulatory telegrams (telegrams?? in 2013??).
Thursday was a mixed day of sport for China.
Let’s start with the good: 14-year-old golfer Guan Tianlang – he of Masters fame – looks well on his way to making his third cut in four PGA Tour events this year, playing at the Memorial Tournament at the invitation of Jack Nicklaus. Despite two bogeys in the last three holes, his even-par round of 72 was good enough for =41st place after Round 1. This is a strong field: 20 of the 120 players have one at least one major, and Guan is ahead of 12 of them.
Tennis, baseball, both forms of football, badminton, athletics and mahjong all feature in this week’s wrap…
If Li Na’s French Open win was the earthquake, then here comes the tsunami.
I’ve written before about the crop of Chinese youngsters poised to make a breakthrough in the women’s game, and it looks like it might be happening.
Yesterday at the Malaysian Open, 21-year-old Wang Qiang beat former world number 1 and the tournament’s top seed, Caroline Wozniacki 2-6, 7-6, 6-1 for the biggest win of her career.
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.