Li Na Becomes First Asian-Born Hall Of Famer, Addresses The Future of Chinese Tennis - UBITENNIS
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Li Na Becomes First Asian-Born Hall Of Famer, Addresses The Future of Chinese Tennis

It was a day to remember for the Chinese tennis legend on Saturday.

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Li Na at the International Tennis Hall of Fame induction ceremony (photo via https://twitter.com/TennisHalloFame)

Almost five years after retiring from the sport, Li Na has achieved another milestone for Asian Tennis after being inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

 

The 37-year-old is the first ever Asian-born player to achieve the accolade, which recognises players who have made a significant contribution to the sport. The former world No.2 broke a series of records during her career. Becoming the first Chinese player to break into the world’s top five and win a grand slam title. In 2011 she defeated Francesca Schiavone to win the French Open. Three years later she added to her major tally by claiming the Australian Open trophy in 2014. Li ended her career with a total of eight WTA titles.

“We all know that to make it into the Hall of Fame, you have to be an accomplished tennis player. Most impressive about Li Na, is that [she’s] been a true pioneer: not just for tennis, not just for women, but for all of China,” Li’s former agent Max Eisenbud said during the official presentation in Newport on Saturday.

Li is regarded as an icon of tennis back in her home country and has been credited for helping its popularity. More than 116 million people in China watched her French Open final on TV. In recent years more high-profile tournaments have taken place in Asia. The latest will be the WTA Finals, which will be held in Shenzhen this year with a record prize money pool up for grabs.

“Right now you can see after US Open there’s a lot of, lot of tournaments in China. Also WTA Final, will be for 10 years in Shenzhen. I think it’s very good for the athletes and also for the fans.” She said.
“For Chinese tennis future, I will guess maybe five to 10 years, I wish they had another Grand Slam champion.”

At present there are four female Chinese players in the top 100. The highest is Qiang Wang at 14th. However, on the men’s tour there is non in the top 200. Li is still the only person from her country to have played in a grand slam singles final.

“Tennis in China has grown up a lot. Especially right now you can see a lot of athletes play on the tour.” She explained.
“Three in top 50 in the women’s tour. I think is much, much better. I believe they have even better in the future.”

Pierce and Kafelnikov also honoured

Li is one of three former players to be inducted into the Hall of Fame this year. Another is Mary Pierce. The Frenchwoman was ranked as high as third in the world and won 18 singles titles on the WTA Tour. Including the 1995 Australian Open and 2000 French Open. It was during the 2000 French Open where she also won the doubles titles alongside Martina Hingis. A double that is rarely achieved in grand slam tennis nowadays. Coincidentally, it was Na who she played against in her final grand slam match at the 2006 US Open, which she lost 4-6, 6-0, 6-0.

“In the first set, things were going okay. I lost the second set 6-Love. I thought, What is happening? I didn’t know Li Na before. I was like, Who is this player from China?” Pierce recounted.
“Then she played amazing, like super solid, really well. I lost the third set 6-Love. I came off the court. I was like, Oh, my gosh, I can’t believe I just lost to this player. She wasn’t known at that time. I thought that was a bad loss for me.’
“Now look where we are today, both being inducted in the Hall of Fame, which is incredible. Of course, it wasn’t a bad loss, and she’s an amazing champion.”

Pierce was also a top-five doubles player and won 10 titles on the women’s tour. In the mixed doubles, she also excelled by winning the 2005 Wimbledon title alongside India’s Mahesh Bhupathi.

Finally Russia’s Kafelnikov is the only one of the trio to be a former world No.1 player. His grand slam triumphs occurred at the 1996 French Open and 1999 Australian Open. In total, he won 26 ATP titles over an eight-year period. He is one of only two Russian men to have topped the rankings. The other is Marat Safin, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame back in 2016.

Kafelnikov was also the first man to ever defeat Roger Federer on a hard court, grass-court and on the carpet. Something he was unaware of until this weekend.

“Roger was very young when we played against each other. I was very mature. I was winning majors already. Roger was 19 years old, kid, if I can say that.” He reflected.
“I remember Roger very well, how we played it. He wasn’t as good at the time like he is right now. But to have that record against Roger is a big thing. I honestly did not know that I beat him three different surfaces.”

During his career Kafelnikov defeated 46 top 10 players and earned $23,883,797 in prize money.

ATP

Year-End No.1 Not A Priority For Rafael Nadal, Says Murray

Murray spoke about his rival as he gives a update on his current form.

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Three-time grand slam champion Andy Murray believes rival Rafael Nadal is not focusing on the prospect of ending the season as world No.1.

 

Murray spoke about the big three during an extensive interview with The Times. A group compromising of Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer. The Brit is currently on the comeback from hip resurfacing surgery and recently reached the quarter-finals of the China Open. His best run on the ATP Tour so far this season. Currently ranked 289th in the world, Murray admits that he still has a way to go to the top. However, the 32-year-old is drawing inspiration from some of his rivals.

“If I do get up there, I’m not going to be focusing on ranking targets. You look at what Roger [Federer], Rafa [Nadal] and I guess Novak [Djokovic], to a certain extent, are doing to give themselves a chance to play longer.” Murray told The Times.
“Right now, Rafa could be fighting to finish number one in the world and it’s not a priority for him. I would like to be competitive in the big events against the best players. I’m not there yet, but I’m closer than I was a month ago, and much closer than a couple of months ago,” he said.

Nadal is currently closing in on the world No.1 spot despite not playing since winning the US Open. On Monday Djokovic’s lead over him will be reduced to 320 points after the Serbian lost in the third round of the Shanghai Masters. Then on November 4th he is guaranteed to return to the top spot before the ATP Finals. Even more significant is that Nadal has no ranking points to defend for the rest of the season compared to 1600 for Djokovic.

Murray’s comments on Nadal echoes what the Spaniard has previously said. During the US Open in September, the king of clay stated that returning to the top was ‘not his main goal’ with his health being top priority.

“I don’t compete for it. I just do my way. If I am able to be No.1 doing it my way, great. But I always say the same: today is not my main goal.” He explained.
“Of course, it’s great to be in that fight. But for me personally, it’s not really a fight. I just try be competitive the weeks that I need to compete, or the weeks that I want to compete.’
“With my age and with my goals, I cannot lose energy or time to follow the No.1. I need to think about my career in a different way.
‘For me, my main goal is play as long as possible and compete, being competitive. Sometimes if you need to follow the No.1, you are going to lose years of your career.”

Nadal is set to return to action in November at the Paris Masters. Meanwhile, Murray returns to the court tomorrow at the European Open where he will play Kimmer Coppejans in the first round.

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Juan Martin Del Potro Scraps Comeback Plans, But Has Good News

Details concerning the current health of the Argentina has been released.

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Juan Martin del Potro (photo by chryslène caillaud, copyright @Sport Vision)

The return of Juan Martin del Potro to the tour will not take place this year following medical advice issued to the former US Open champion.

 

Del Potro has been sidelined from action since the Fever-Tree Championships in June. At the tournament the Argentine suffered a fall on the court and injured his knee. He re-fractured his right patella in what was an almost identical scenario to the end of last year for the injury-stricken player.

It was hoped that the 31-year-old would be returning to action at tournaments in Stockholm, Sweden and Vienna, Austria later this year. However, those plans have now been changed. Meaning his 2019 season has come to an end.

“Juan Martin del Potro visited the Mapfre de Mecidina del Tenis Clinic in Barcelona,” a statement published by Del Potro’s management reads.
“After some tests, including on-court exercises supervised by Dr. Angel Ruiz Cotorro, the right knee was shown great signs of a solid recovery.
“Now they will be able to take the next step in the recovery stage and create a rehabilitation program that is more intense with the goal to make Juan Martin competing again as soon as possible.
“Despite Juan Martin’s wishes, he has been recommended not to compete in October and continue with the current plan.”

Del Potro has been hampered by injuries throughout his career. Over a two-year period (2014-2015) he underwent four surgeries on his wrists. Since 2010, he has missed more than three years on the tour due to his physical struggles.

Injury timeline
-Jan-Sep 10: right wrist (8 months)
-Feb-Jan 14-15: Left wrist (11 months)
-Mar-Feb 15-16: left wrist (11 months)
-Oct-Feb 18-19: right knee (4 months)
-Feb-Apr 19: right knee (2 months)
-June 19 – now right knee (5 months*)
*ongoing injury

Del Potro closes the year out by playing in just five tournaments. Winning eight out of 12 matches played. He reached the quarter-finals of events in Delray Beach and Rome, as well as the fourth round of the French Open.

The next public glimpse of Del Potro on the tennis court is likely to take place in November. He is set to take on Roger Federer in an exhibition match held in Buenos Aires. Their clash will take place at the The Parque Roca Stadium.

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Teenage Sensation Coco Gauff Reach New Milestone And Is Hungry For More

It is turning out to be a quite a tournament for the American lucky loser.

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Coco Gauff’s maiden experience at the Linz Open in Austria is one that comprises of both disappointment and jubilation.

 

It looked like it was all over for the 15-year-old in qualifying after she lost in the second round to Germany’s Tamara Korpatsch. However, she was given a second chance after receiving a lucky loser place in the main draw. A chance Gauff has triumphantly capitalized on with a straight-sets win over Stefanie Vogele in the opening round. Then on Wednesday she sealed her place in her first ever WTA quarter-final after Ukrainian world No.83 Kateryna Kozlova retired in the third set of their match.

The latest win has enabled Gauff to once again rewrite the record books. She is the youngest player to reach the last eight of a WTA tournament in 14 years.

It’s a good accomplishment, and hopefully I can continue to push that to the semifinals.Gauff reacted to her latest milestone.
“I guess that I’m used to being the youngest to do a lot of things, and I hope that I can continue to do that and enjoy my youth years, because as everyone tells me, it doesn’t last long.”

Perhaps even more significant is that the latest run has secured Gauff’s debut in the top 100. An enormous rise for a player who was ranked 685th at the start of this year. She is the youngest player to breaking into the top 100 since Sesil Karatantcheva back in 2005. To put that into context, this week the youngest player in the top 100 is 18-year-old Amanda Anisimova.

“It’s been a goal of mine. In January of this year, I sent a message to my friend saying I wanted to finish Top 100, and at the time I was ranked, like, 800, so it was a far-fetched goal, but I’m glad that I was able to accomplish it,” she said.
“My other goal was to get in the main draw of two Grand Slams, and that happened, so I’m glad that I accomplished everything that I wanted this year.”

Gauff made headlines earlier this year with a shock run to the fourth round of the Wimbledon Championships as a qualifier. It was at the tournament where she recorded her first ever win over a top 10 player by defeating Venus Williams in the first round. A couple months later she also reached the third round of the US Open before losing to Naomi Osaka. Due to her age, Gauff is currently restricted to how many tournaments she is allowed to play within a 12-month period.

Awaiting the teenager in Linz next will be either top seed Kiki Bertens or Alison Van Uytvanck.

jkjj

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