The growth in women’s tennis has been one of the great China stories – in sport or elsewhere – in recent years. Li Na was the obvious catalyst, and in particular her 2011 French Open win, but much of the credit has to go to the WTA’s CEO, Stacey Allaster. This excellent profile by a former colleague of mine tells you everything you need to know about Allaster, who got the top job in women’s tennis in 2009.
Chinese tennis player Wu Di, who made history earlier this year by becoming the first Chinese man to play in a Grand Slam tournament, has qualified for next year’s tournament via the same process – by winning the Asia-Pacific wildcard playoff. The 22-year-old has not, by his own admission, had a good year, but said this gives him focus for the future. Wu also qualified for this year’s tournament, but lost in the first round to Croatia’s Ivan Dodig in four sets.
Pac-Man, Zou Shiming have early start in Macau
Manny Pacquiao takes on Brandon Rios in Macau at around lunchtime on Sunday China time (to ensure a prime-time Saturday evening audience in the US). There was lots of talk from the Manny camp about how this one is for the Philippines given the recent typhoon, but that will all be forgotten when the bell goes. There was also a predictably entertaining build-up with trainers from each side getting into it in the gym – in other words, typical pre-bout stuff.
Top Rank promoter Bob Arum said he expects around 200 million homes in China to tune in to see the main event, which, as usual, is way, way beyond the realms of reality. Continue reading Weekly Wrap: Beckham, Pacquiao, Liverpool, Asian Cup & ATP
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.
A round-up of what’s been happening this week (Beckham stuff at the end!):
The NBA announced eight international preseason games for next season. For Asian fans that means Pacers vs Rockets, Manila, Oct 10; Pacers vs Rockets, Taipei, Oct 13; Lakers vs Warriors, Beijing, Oct 15; and Lakers vs Warrior, Shanghai, Oct 18.
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.