Li Na cruised through to the third round of the Australian Open on Wednesday with a 6-0, 7-6 win over Swiss teenager Belinda Bencic, while Zheng Jie had a tougher battle, eventually downing American Madison Keys 7-6,1-6, 7-5. But for all the talk about China’s new generation of tennis players (here and elsewhere), Li and Zheng were the only two to make it out of the first round – from the eight who made the main draw.
China had a record eight players in the singles draw for the Australian Open. Of the five who played on Day 1, there were wins for Li Na (vs 16-year-old Croatian Ana Konjuh) and Zheng Jie (vs 12th seed Roberta Vinci), while wildcard playoff winners Wu Di and Tang Haochen both lost, as did Zhang Shuai, who had ended 2013 so well.
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.
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
Tennis, baseball, both forms of football, badminton, athletics and mahjong all feature in this week’s wrap…
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.