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→
[UPDATE: Fresh off his Hainan payday and his visit to the Venetian Macao, Tiger spent Friday at the Marina Bay Sands casino-hotel in Singapore, where he held a clinic for young golfers and dyslexic children. Again, call me cynical, but the kids + special needs combo is fooling no one: clearly it’s easier to bank a large, guaranteed sum for a couple of hours of work than fight it out over four rounds with the other pros, even if the $8.5 million on offer this week in Shanghai means there’s plenty to go around. These promotional appearances, by the way, have apparently been in the pipeline for “well over a year”, meaning they would have been on his calendar before any golf tournaments were added].
Yao Ming may not have been the first player from China to play in the NBA – that distinction goes to Wang Zhizhi – but Yao’s arrival in the US was supposed to open the doors and let in a steady stream of talent from the east. Unfortunately those doors have now slammed shut with the news that Yi Jianlian doesn’t plan to have another crack at the NBA and will stay in China.
Apologies for the infrequent posts over the last month. I visited a total of seven countries in August, and I’m also in the process of moving server and relaunching the site.
Textbook sponsorship placements. Photo credit: AP
Li Na marches on at the US Open with a 6-3, 6-0 win over 9th seed Jelena Jankovic to reach the quarter-finals and match her best ever performance at Flushing Meadows. Too bad the conversation has focused on everything other than the tennis in recent days. But as every tabloid journalist knows, never let the truth get in the way of a good story. Here is today’s Sports Talk column:
In this week’s round-up, Taiwan takes centre stage on the world sporting map, golfing teen sensation Guan Tianlang explores America, the most ludicrous claim you’ll hear this decade and a hot sporting WAG.
Liu Xiang is out for the season, and will miss the 2013 World Championships in Moscow among other events. Further ahead, the 2015 World Championships will be held in Beijing and the 2016 Olympic Games will be held in Rio. In 27 Olympics, the oldest ever winner of the 110-metre hurdles was Mark McCoy who was 30 in 1992; Liu will be 33 in Rio.
Stephon Marbury is an extremely optimistic fellow. That’s part of what makes him so interesting and his infectious enthusiasm has gained him millions of fans here in China. The way in which he deals with the haters is admirable too: reposting messages of hate and wishing them all the best.
Yao Ming is sadly no longer with us. The seven-week-old giraffe in Houston named after the Chinese NBA star was put down after a month-long bone infection couldn’t be treated. Sorry for leading with a tearjerker – I promise the other stories will be more cheerful!
After Time recently named Li Na as one of the world’s top 100 most influential people, my first thought was about the Timing (sorry). Her breakout performance was her French Open win in 2011, so why have they taken this long to put her on the list? Yes, her brand has continued to grow, but her main sponsors jumped on board in summer 2011, immediately after her Grand Slam win.
All sports stars feel pressure to a certain extent, but when you’ve got the hopes of 1.3 billion people weighing on you, that pressure can become suffocating. China’s greatest sportsmen and women all either compete in individual events (Liu Xiang, Li Na, Lin Dan etc) or are head and shoulders above anyone else on their team (literally, in Yao Ming’s case), and so they rarely, if ever, have the chance to share that burden.