2014/10/01

Li Na’s Retirement Ceremony in Around the Grounds Beijing Photo Gallery

(September 30, 2014) BEIJING – Photos by Natalie Ho from around the grounds to the main interview room on Tuesday of the China Open including Li Na’s retirement ceremony.

Abigail Hinto and Natalie Ho are in Beijing, China covering the China Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow their twitter updates on @TennisNewsTPN.

Share

Rafael Nadal Returns with a Win in Beijing

 

By Abigail Hinto

(September 30, 2014) BEIJING – What rust?  Rafael Nadal didn’t show any rust in his first singles match back to the competition after being sidelined with a right wrist injury for three months.  In a comfortable 6-4, 6-0 win over Richard Gasquet.

Nadal was playing aggressively off both his forehand and backhand, hitting winners all over the court.  Once Gasquet was pushed off the court with Nadal dictating play, and there was nothing more the Frenchman could do to get back in to the point.  His only other option was to be as aggressive as Nadal, which he managed to do well in the first set earning him a couple of break points but which unfortunately for him, he was unable to convert especially in the crucial tenth game as Nadal saved the break point with an ace while serving for the set.

 

The second set saw Gasquet’s frustration boil over as he started making more errors with overly aggressive play while Nadal was as steady as rock both offensively and defensively.

 

There were no signs of the wrist injury from Nadal, “the wrist is much, much better,” according to Nadal.  “Is almost recovered hundred percent.  I cannot say ‘hundred percent’ because when you have some feelings on it when you warm up at the beginning, it’s not hundred percent.  But let’s say 90 something percent.  The most important thing is the wrist is not limiting me to play my tennis, to hit the normal backhand.”

 

Overall, Rafael Nadal is happy to be back on court playing again.  “I have to be happy the way that I played, no?  Three months without a match, winning against a player who is a good player like Richard, is a very positive comeback for me.”

 

“More important than win, lose, is spend time on court.  And winning, I have another chance to play another match after tomorrow, no?”

 

“That’s the key for me today:  spend time on court, play matches.  At least I going to play two matches minimum here.  That’s a positive thing.  I’m going to try my best to play three.”

 

Next up for Nadal is Peter Gojowczyk who took him to three sets earlier this year in Doha in their only meeting so far.

Abigail Hinto and Natalie Ho are in Beijing, China covering the China Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow their twitter updates on @TennisNewsTPN.

 

Photos by Natalie Ho.

Share

Marin Cilic is Still Getting Used to being a Grand Slam Champion

Marin Cilic

Marin Cilic

(September 29, 2014) US Open champion Marin Cilic of Croatia opened his quest for the China open in Beijing on Monday with a struggled with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Chinese wild card, world No. 462 Bai Yan.

Cilic who is three weeks removed form capturing his first major title said that he still getting used to being a Grand Slam winner.

“Most of the guys at the top are dealing with that already for few years,” he said. “It’s a bit new thing for me, so I’m learning day to day.

“It’s going to be a process for me, for sure, on all the tournaments to keep my level of the game at the high point where I want it to be.

“I have been dealing little bit with this in the past. I learned couple of lessons. Most important for myself is also not to put too many expectations on my own shoulders from my own side, not to ask too much out of myself. That can be dangerous in a process if things are not working the best I want them to.

“I know it’s always difficult to start tournaments. You know, players are always looking at you much more. I think it’s important for me to keep focusing on improvement of my game and try to, of course, recreate the game I was playing in the US Open.”

Cilic who turned 26 on Sunday and celebrated with four birthday cakes, spoke about returning home to Croatia after Davis Cup weekend, his first trip back since winning Flushing Meadow.

“In Croatia it was extremely special. When I came back after Davis Cup, the country, everybody was very, very happy. You could see whoever I met, they were really happy for me and also proud because Croatia is really small country. In the tennis world, everybody knows everybody. Especially now they follow me already since the beginning of my career. So everybody was just excited about this success.

When I was in my hometown, it was just amazing memory. Huge amount of people. It was, I don’t know, 30,000, 40,000 people on a square. Just was very special.”

China Open Results for ATP
Singles – First Round
[4] M Cilic (CRO) d [WC] Y Bai (CHN) 63 64
[5] G Dimitrov (BUL) d F Verdasco (ESP) 61 36 63
V Pospisil (CAN) d L Rosol (CZE) 64 63
J Sousa (POR) d [Q] T Gabashvili (RUS) 16 76(4) 64
[WC] V Troicki (SRB) d M Youzhny (RUS) 63 64

Doubles – First Round
F Fognini (ITA) / L Mayer (ARG) d [1] D Nestor (CAN) / N Zimonjic (SRB) 36 63 10-6
T Berdych (CZE) / J Isner (USA) d P Andujar (ESP) / R Nadal (ESP) 75 46 10-4

SCHEDULE – TUESDAY, 30 SEPTEMBER 2014

NATIONAL TENNIS STADIUM start 12:30
WTA – E Svitolina (UKR) vs [4] M Sharapova (RUS)

Not Before 2:30 pm
ATP – [1] N Djokovic (SRB) vs G Garcia-Lopez (ESP)
ATP – R Gasquet (FRA) vs [2] R Nadal (ESP)

Not Before 7:45 pm
WTA – [1] S Williams (USA) vs [Q] T Pironkova (BUL)

Not Before 9:00 pm
ATP – [7] E Gulbis (LAT) vs F Fognini (ITA)

LOTUS COURT start 12:30
ATP – [WC] F Lopez (ESP) vs [3] T Berdych (CZE)

Not Before 2:30 pm
WTA – [WC] L Zhu (CHN) vs [2] S Halep (ROU)
WTA – C Garcia (FRA) vs [16] V Williams (USA)

Not Before 6:30 pm
ATP – J Janowicz (POL) vs [6] [WC] A Murray (GBR)

MOON COURT start 12:30
WTA – R Vinci (ITA) vs [5] A Radwanska (POL)
WTA – C Chuang (TPE) / O Govortsova (BLR) vs [5] A Hlavackova (CZE) / S Peng (CHN)
WTA – [8] E Bouchard (CAN) vs S Lisicki (GER)
WTA – R Oprandi (SUI) vs [9] A Ivanovic (SRB)

BRAD DREWETT COURT start 12:30
WTA – K Mladenovic (FRA) / A Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) vs Y Xu (CHN) / J Zheng (CHN)
ATP – [8] J Isner (USA) vs S Giraldo (COL)
ATP – T Robredo (ESP) vs A Seppi (ITA)
ATP – [Q] M Klizan (SVK) vs L Mayer (ARG)

COURT 3 start 12:30
WTA – [15] A Petkovic (GER) vs M Keys (USA)
WTA – [7] A Kerber (GER) vs Z Diyas (KAZ)
WTA – [14] F Pennetta (ITA) vs C Suárez Navarro (ESP)

COURT 4 start 12:30
WTA – [3] K Peschke (CZE) / K Srebotnik (SLO) vs J Gajdosova (AUS) / A Tomljanovic (CRO)
WTA – S Kuznetsova (RUS) vs K Nara (JPN)
ATP-After suitable rest – F Lopez (ESP) / M Mirnyi (BLR) vs L Kubot (POL) / R Lindstedt (SWE)
ATP – J Cabal (COL) / R Farah (COL) vs [2] A Peya (AUT) / B Soares (BRA)

COURT 7 start 12:30
WTA – [12] E Makarova (RUS) vs [Q] P Hercog (SLO)
ATP – [Q] J Brunstrom (SWE) / N Monroe (USA) vs M Cilic (CRO) / S Gonzalez (MEX)
ATP – J Benneteau (FRA) vs P Andujar (ESP)
ATP – [Q] M Kukushkin (KAZ) vs P Cuevas (URU)

COURT 8 start 12:30
ATP – I Karlovic (CRO) vs [Q] P Gojowczyk (GER)

Not Before 2:00 pm
ATP – [3] D Marrero (ESP) / F Verdasco (ESP) vs J Rojer (NED) / H Tecau (ROU)
WTA – [Q] M Barthel (GER) vs [13] L Safarova (CZE)

Share

Serena Williams Escapes A Bagel Set to Win Opening Round in Beijing

Serena Williams in press

(September 29, 2014) No. 1 Serena Williams escaped a bagel set against her by Spanish qualifier Silvia Soler-Espinosa when she trailed 0-5 in the first set but then reeled off 13 of the next 15 games to win her first round match at the China Open on Monday 7-5, 6-2.

The holder of 18 major titles lost her serve three times in the first 15 minutes of the match to trail 5-0.

“I just didn’t want to lose ‑‑ I didn’t want to lose 6‑Love,” Williams said. “I just started fighting. I was like, Just let me at least try to break here.”

The last player to dish out 6-0 set against the 33-year-old was another Spaniard, Anabel Medina Garrigues, in Madrid last year. Williams won that match 6-3, 0-6, 7-5.

Williams who was forced to retire last week in Wuhan against Alize Cornet due to dizziness, said that she’s better this week.

“I felt good today,” Williams said. “I definitely feel like I was over it.

“This week I’ve been okay. I wasn’t sure if I was going to play or not. You know, I just started hitting a couple days ago, taking it day by day. Finally I decided I’m here, I may as well see what happens. Here I am.”

 

CHINA OPEN 2014 – BEIJING
USD 5,427,105
27 SEP – 5 OCT 2014

RESULTS – SEPTEMBER 29, 2014
Singles – First Round
[1] S Williams (USA) d [Q] S Soler-Espinosa (ESP) 75 62
[9] A Ivanovic (SRB) d [Q] B Bencic (SUI) 62 61
A Cornet (FRA) d [10] J Jankovic (SRB) 75 36 64
[13] L Safarova (CZE) d C Giorgi (ITA) 76(3) 64
[14] F Pennetta (ITA) d C McHale (USA) 76(3) 64
[Q] T Pironkova (BUL) d [WC] M Kirilenko (RUS) 64 61
[Q] M Barthel (GER) d [Q] B Mattek-Sands (USA) 46 61 64
L Davis (USA) d [Q] Y Xu (CHN) 63 63
S Peng (CHN) d [WC] K Zhang (CHN) 64 61
C Garcia (FRA) d S Zhang (CHN) 61 64

Doubles – Second Round
[2] C Black (ZIM) / S Mirza (IND) d C Dellacqua (AUS) / L Raymond (USA) w/o (Dellacqua: lower leg injury)

Doubles – First Round
[7] G Muguruza (ESP) / C Suárez Navarro (ESP) d C McHale (USA) / C Scheepers (RSA) 62 62
[Alt] M Barthel (GER) / M Minella (LUX) d [WC] B Mattek-Sands (USA) / S Zheng (CHN) 76(7) 63
[WC] S Halep (ROU) / I Olaru (ROU) d O Kalashnikova (GEO) / K Koukalova (CZE) 64 76(4)

ORDER OF PLAY – TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 30, 2014
NATIONAL TENNIS STADIUM start 12:30 pm
WTA – E Svitolina (UKR) vs [4] M Sharapova (RUS)

Not Before 2:30 pm
ATP – [1] N Djokovic (SRB) vs G Garcia-Lopez (ESP)
ATP – R Gasquet (FRA) vs [2] R Nadal (ESP)

Not Before 7:45 pm
WTA – [1] S Williams (USA) vs [Q] T Pironkova (BUL)

Not Before 9:00 pm
ATP – [7] E Gulbis (LAT) vs F Fognini (ITA)

LOTUS COURT start 12:30
ATP – [WC] F Lopez (ESP) vs [3] T Berdych (CZE)

Not Before 2:30 pm
WTA – [WC] L Zhu (CHN) vs [2] S Halep (ROU)
WTA – C Garcia (FRA) vs [16] V Williams (USA)

Not Before 6:30 pm
ATP – J Janowicz (POL) vs [6] [WC] A Murray (GBR)

MOON COURT start 12:30
WTA – R Vinci (ITA) vs [5] A Radwanska (POL)
WTA – C Chuang (TPE) / O Govortsova (BLR) vs [5] A Hlavackova (CZE) / S Peng (CHN)
WTA – [8] E Bouchard (CAN) vs S Lisicki (GER)
WTA – R Oprandi (SUI) vs [9] A Ivanovic (SRB)

BRAD DREWETT COURT start 2:00 pm
ATP – [8] J Isner (USA) vs S Giraldo (COL)
ATP – T Robredo (ESP) vs A Seppi (ITA)
ATP – [Q] M Klizan (SVK) vs L Mayer (ARG)

COURT 3 start 12:30
WTA – [15] A Petkovic (GER) vs M Keys (USA)
WTA – [7] A Kerber (GER) vs Z Diyas (KAZ)
WTA – [14] F Pennetta (ITA) vs C Suárez Navarro (ESP)
WTA – K Mladenovic (FRA) / A Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) vs Y Xu (CHN) / J Zheng (CHN)

COURT 4 start 12:30
WTA – [3] K Peschke (CZE) / K Srebotnik (SLO) vs J Gajdosova (AUS) / A Tomljanovic (CRO)
WTA – S Kuznetsova (RUS) vs K Nara (JPN)
ATP-After suitable rest – F Lopez (ESP) / M Mirnyi (BLR) vs L Kubot (POL) / R Lindstedt (SWE)
ATP – J Cabal (COL) / R Farah (COL) vs [2] A Peya (AUT) / B Soares (BRA)

COURT 7 start 12:30
WTA – [12] E Makarova (RUS) vs [Q] P Hercog (SLO)
ATP – [Q] J Brunstrom (SWE) / N Monroe (USA) vs M Cilic (CRO) / S Gonzalez (MEX)
ATP – J Benneteau (FRA) vs P Andujar (ESP)
ATP – [Q] M Kukushkin (KAZ) vs P Cuevas (URU)

COURT 8 start 12:30
ATP – I Karlovic (CRO) vs [Q] P Gojowczyk (GER)

Not Before 2:00 pm
ATP – [3] D Marrero (ESP) / F Verdasco (ESP) vs J Rojer (NED) / H Tecau (ROU)
WTA – [Q] M Barthel (GER) vs [13] L Safarova (CZE)

Share

Doubles for Singles, Nadal Returns to the Court After Wrist Injury

By Abigail Hinto

(September 29, 2014) BEIJING – Rafael Nadal was back on the court on Monday for the first time since injuring his right wrist in July to play a doubles match at the China Open. He partnered with Spanish compatriot Pablo Andujar in his return.

 

The ever enthusiastic crowd of Chinese fans greeted all four singles players, Rafael Nadal and Pablo Andujar versus Tomas Berdych and John Isner, playing their first matches here at the China Open as doubles players with their usual zeal and passion.  Along with the return of Rafael Nadal to competition after being out for 3 months with a wrist injury, a first round doubles match brought out a full and noisy crowd to the Moon Court of the Beijing National Tennis Center with numerous Spanish flags swaying with the cool breeze under a hot sun.

 

Meanwhile, who cares for a team uniform for these singles players when no one bothered to coordinate with their teammates. Andujar, Berdych and Isner were all in white shirts with varying designs with Berdych sporting printed grey and orange shorts.  Nadal, on the other hand was the standout in an aquamarine/teal shirt with orange highlights and grey shorts.

 

As for the match, both the first and second sets were close with only one break each deciding the winner of the sets.  Andujar was broken in the first set serving 5-6 down, deuce, when Nadal, eager to win the point for his team crossed for a volley, cut it too close and netted the ball.  The second set break came on against Isner’s serve thanks to Andujar’s returning.  No wonder Andujar was chosen by the team to receive Isner’s serve when the first game reached the deciding point. Another good return from Andujar and the break was the Spaniards’.  Nadal then served out the set for 6-4 but not before facing 2 break back points.  A poor return by Berdych off a second serve from Nadal, then another error netting a volley while approaching the net, saw Nadal hold to take the second set.

 

The match was then decided in a match tiebreak which Berdych and Isner ran away with after being down 1-3 with great plays from both players winning 8 consecutive points until eventually winning the match tiebreak 10-4. Final score: 7-5, 4-6, 10-4.

 

A fun, competitive atmosphere for these single players who probably played doubles for match practice but definitely went out there to win.

Nadal begins his quest for the singles title Tuesday, when he faces Richard Gasquet in the opening round.

 

Abigail Hinto and Natalie Ho are in Beijing, China covering the China Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow their twitter updates on @TennisNewsTPN.

 

Photos by Natalie Ho.

 

 

Share

Murray Wins First Title Since 2013 Wimbledon

 

Andy Murray

Andy Murray

(September 28, 2014) Scot Andy Murray came back from a set down and saved five match points to beat Spain’s Tommy Robredo of Spain 5-7, 7-6 (9), 6-1 Sunday to win the Shenzhen Open.

For the Scotsman, who came into the tournament as a wildcard, he broke a tournament win drought dating back to 2013 Wimbledon, the tennis title he won.

“It’s been a long time since I won a tournament, Murray said. “The way that the match was won doesn’t happen very often. It’s rare to win a match like that. I was very close to losing. It was an emotional week for me. I managed to fight my way through it, win the title, and hopefully I can win another one before the end of the year.”

Murray was down 2-6 in the second set tiebreak before rallying.

“I got lucky, basically, at the end of the second set,” Murray said. “I fought hard, tried my best and thankfully managed to turn it round.”

The Scot is trying to qualify for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, and has moved up to 10th in the ATP Race To London with the addition of 250 points.

“When you finish second in a tournament it’s always great,” Robredo said. “In a match like today that was so close, it’s tough to accept it. But Andy did a great job. He was pushing right till the end and in the end, he deserved it. It was a good experience to learn from. I will keep working and hopefully next time I can win. It was a good week and hopefully next week I can be ready to play as well.”

Share

Kei Nishikori Wins Malaysian Open

Kei Nishikori

Kei Nishikori

(September 28, 2014) Top seed Kei Nishikori earned his third title of the season, beating fourth-seeded Julien Benneteau 7-6 (4), 6-4 on Sunday to win the Malaysian Open.

The Japanese player was playing in his first tournament since losing in the final of the US Open.

“It was a really tough start, because he was playing so aggressive, “Nishokori said about trailing by a break in the first set. “I was waiting for my opportunity. I had so many break points and I couldn’t take them. In the last game, he got a little bit tight and I took my chance. After that I played much better and I think he was getting a little bit tired in the second set. I tried to raise my level. It wasn’t my best tennis, but it’s good to win like this.”
The Frenchman Benneteau is now 0-10 in finals. This was his third straight Malaysian Open final.

“Kei was simply too good in the key moments,” Benneteau said. “Especially at the end of the first set. I had some chances, but against these kinds of players they are small chances and you have to take them.”

“It was a very good week and today was my best match of the week. Kei was simply too good in the key moments, especially at the end of the first set. I had some chances, but against these kinds of players, they are small chances and you have to take them. I tried to play my best and I almost did it. I’m disappointed with the loss, but very happy with the level of my game.”

Nishikori is now 44-10 for the year.

Nishikori’s win extends his lead ATP Race To London over seventh-placed David Ferrer.

Share

Petra Kvitova Wins Wuhan Open and Qualifies for WTA Year End Championships

Petra Kvitova

(September 27, 2014) In a rematch of the Wimbledon final staged in July, Petra Kvitova defeated Eugenie Bouchard 6-3, 6-4 to claim the inaugural Wuhan Open in China on Saturday.

With the win, the third seeded Czech player has qualified for the season-ending WTA finals in Singapore, along with Serena Williams, Simona Halep and Maria Sharapova.

“I knew that I have to play a little bit more aggressive than I played the matches before,” Kvitova said about playing her Canadian opponent. “I need to play a similar game as in Wimbledon, very aggressively going for the shots.”

This was 24-year-old Kvitova’s third title of the year and her first win over a top 10 player on the year.

“It’s been a great week, said the 20-year-old Bouchard. “First of all, of course, I have to congratulate Petra. She’s beaten me in two finals this year, so I will have to figure out what to do to beat her now!”

In the doubles final, Martina Hingis and Flavia Pennetta won their first title as a team defeating Cara Black and Caroline Garcia 6-4, 5-7, 12-10, saving two match points.

“There aren’t many places I can say I’m coming to for the first time in my 20 years of playing,” Hingis said. “And I really loved this tournament. I really enjoyed every moment. It’s just been a fantastic week.”

For Hingis this was her 39th WTA doubles title.

Share

Ivanovic, Goffin, Pliskova and Niculescu Take Tennis Titles This week

Ana Ivanovic

Ana Ivanovic

(September 21, 2014) Ana Ivanovic, David Goffin, Monica Niculescu and Karolina Pliskova won tournaments this weekend on the WTA and ATP tennis tours.

In Tokyo in a battle between two former WTA number ones, third seed Ana Ivanovic won her fourth title of the year defeating recent US Open finalist Caroline Wozniacki for the Pan Pacific Open.

The Serb was dominant the first set, at one point winning 17 straight points, she did not drop a set in the tournament.

“The key for me was coming forward to the net,” Ivanovic said.”She is a great offensive player and gets a lot of balls back so it was important for me to come forward and play well at the net.”

“Caroline played a great match today,” said the current world No. 8, who is set to move to No. 5 in the rankings and 6th in the Race to Singapore standings. “It was a really good battle out there – there were some very tough moments, especially in the second set. But I just tried to take it one point at a time, and I’m really happy to make it through. It’s just an amazing feeling to win this title.”

For Ivanovic, it’s her 15th career title. She is now 52-14 on the year, the most number of wins on the women’s tour this year.

Belgium’s David Goffin took his second career title, claiming the Moselle Open in Metz , France with a 6-4, 6-3 win over Joao Sousa of Portugal on Sunday.

“This is very special because my family was here today,” Goffin said. “That’s the advantage of playing close to home. Winning my second title feels just as good as the first one. I’m very happy.

“I had to play aggressively today, dictate the game. The tactics worked out well and I served well. I was able to focus until the end.”
“This is very special because my family was here today. That’s the advantage of playing close to home,” Goffin said. “Winning my second title feels just as good as the first one.”

“I have to congratulate David on a fantastic week,” Sousa said. Even if I lost today, it was a great week for me as well, reaching the final. I hope that I can come back next year and hopefully go one step further.”

The 23-year-old Goffin, who began the year ranked at 100, will move to No. 35 in the world when the rankings come out on Monday.
Also winning the second title of her career was Monica Niculescu. The Romanian upset second seed Alize Cornet 6-4, 6-0 to win the Guangzhou International tournament.

“I was so happy to finish in the end because it was very hot and very humid, and I was very, very tired,” Niculescu said. “But to finish so strong was amazing for me. I have many emotions right now, but most of it is joy and confidence. It’s my second WTA title and that’s just an amazing feeling.”

Niculescu joins Romanians Virginia Ruzici, Irina Spirlea, Ruxandra Dragomir-Ilie, Alexandra Dulgheru and Simona Halep to win multiple WTA titles.

Second seed Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic defeated Varvara Lepchenko of the United States, 6-3, 6-7 (5), 6-2 to win the Korea Open. For the Czech, it’s her second WTA crown.

This was Pliskova’s fourth WTA final this year.

Share

Li Na Announces Retirement

Li Na

Li Na

(September 19, 2014) After much speculations over the past few months, China’s Li Na has officially retired from tennis. The 32-year-old called it quits due to recurring knee injuries. She announced her retirement in a letter posted on social media on Friday.

 

 

Friday, September 19, 2014

My dear friends,

For close to fifteen years, we’ve been a part of each other’s lives. As a tennis player representing China on the global stage, I’ve trekked around the world playing hundreds of matches on the WTA tour, for China’s Fed Cup team, at the National Games and at several Olympic Games. You’ve always been there for me, supporting me, cheering me on, and encouraging me to reach my potential.

Representing China on the tennis court was an extraordinary privilege and a true honour. Having the unique opportunity to effectively bring more attention to the sport of tennis in China and all over Asia is something I will cherish forever. But in sport, just like in life, all great things must come to an end.

2014 has become one of the most significant years in my career and my life. This year was full of amazing highlights, which included winning my second Grand Slam singles title at the Australian Open and sharing the extraordinary experience with my country, my team, my husband and my fans. It was also a year filled with difficult moments, such as having to deal with the inevitable – making the decision to end my professional tennis career.

The amazing moment in Australia was filled with joy, happiness and extraordinary sense of accomplishment. The task of finally making a decision to hang up my racquet felt a lot more difficult than winning seven matches in a row in the Australian heat. It took me several agonizing months to finally come to the decision that my chronic injuries will never again let me be the tennis player that I can be. Walking away from the sport, effective immediately, is the right decision for me and my family.

Most people in the tennis world know that my career has been marked by my troubled right knee. The black brace I wear over it when I step on the court has become my tennis birth mark. And while the brace completes my tennis look, the knee problems have at times overtaken my life.

After four knee surgeries and hundreds of shots injected into my knee weekly to alleviate swelling and pain, my body is begging me to stop the pounding. My previous three surgeries were on my right knee. My most recent knee surgery took place this July and was on my left knee. After a few weeks of post-surgery recovery, I tried to go through all the necessary steps to get back on the court. While I’ve come back from surgery in the past, this time it felt different. One of my goals was to recover as fast as I could in order to be ready for the first WTA tournament in my hometown of Wuhan. As hard as I tried to get back to being 100%, my body kept telling me that, at 32, I will not be able to compete at the top level ever again. The sport is just too competitive, too good, to not be 100%.

Winning a Grand Slam title this year and achieving a ranking of World No.2 is the way I would like to leave competitive tennis. As hard as it’s been to come to this decision, I am at peace with it. I have no regrets. I wasn’t supposed to be here in the first place, remember? Not many people believed in my talent and my abilities, yet I found a way to persevere, to prove them (and sometimes myself!) wrong.

I’ve succeeded on the global stage in a sport that a few years ago was in its infancy in China. What I’ve accomplished for myself is beyond my wildest dreams. What I accomplished for my country is one of my most proud achievements.

In 2008, there were two professional women’s tennis tournaments in China. Today, there are 10, one of them in Wuhan, my hometown. That to me is extraordinary! Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova and Venus Williams – with thirty Grand Slam singles titles among them – are coming to my hometown to play tennis for the fans of China! Just as I didn’t think I could ever be a Grand Slam champion, never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that some of the best female athletes in the world could play tennis in Wuhan, in my backyard.

My contributions to the growth of the sport in China are very special to me. But I don’t want to stop here. Together with IMG, my management company, we are putting together various plans on how we will continue to grow the sport of tennis in China. These plans include opening the Li Na Tennis Academy, which will provide scholarships for the future generation of Chinese tennis stars. I will also stay involved in the Right to Play, an organization dedicated to helping underprivileged children overcome challenges through sport. My philanthropic work will expand in scope as I continue to dedicate myself to helping those in need. What was once just a dream in China today is a reality.

On a personal side, I look forward to starting a new chapter of my life, hopefully having a family and reconnecting with those I did not have the luxury of spending a lot of time with while playing. I can’t wait to revisit all the amazing places I played tennis in and see the world through a new set of eyes. I look forward to slowing down and living my life at a new, slower, relaxed pace.

Tennis is an individual sport and as players, our job is to spend a lot of time focusing on ourselves. But no player can ever become a champion alone and nobody knows this better than me. There isn’t enough space here to thank everyone who has travelled on my journey with me and contributed to my success. But I must thank those that have stuck with me through the highs and the lows and have helped me become the person that I am today.

Thank you to:
• My mother – for your never-ending support. Through the laughs and the tears, you’ve always been there for me.
• My father – you were taken away from me way too early and I haven’t been the same since. You’ve remained the sunshine in my life and I am who I am because of you.
• Jiang Shan – you’ve been by my side for 20 years. You are my everything and I am grateful to have shared my life with you.
• My first coaches Ms. Xia Xiyao and Ms. Yu Liqiao – for putting me on the tennis path.
• Madame Sun and the Chinese Tennis Association – thank you for being trailblazers for tennis in China.
• Mr. Hu Dechun and the Hubei Sports Bureau – for understanding me and supporting me through the years.
• Women’s Tennis Association – for your passion for women’s tennis and hard work growing it around the world.
• Mr. Chan Hongchang – for supporting me when I first decided to become a professional tennis player in 2008. You helped me make up my mind.
• Thomas Hogstedt – for introducing me to professional tennis.
• Michael Mortenson – for helping me win my first Grand Slam.
• Carlos Rodriguez – for pushing me beyond the limits I thought I could reach.
• Alex Stober – for taking care of me all of these years and pulling me together when I was falling apart.
• Erich Rembeck and Johannes Wieber – for finding a way to make me pain free, over and over again.
• Fred Zhang and the Nike team – you’ve been my guiding light, my support system and my biggest cheerleader. I will never forget it.
• To Max Eisenbud and the entire IMG Team – for being the best management company in the world and for taking care of me every day.
• To all the sponsors that have supported me through every stage of my career.
• To my relatives, friends, and everyone who has helped me throughout my career – for always being there for me and for your never-ending support.
• To my fellow tennis players – for being a part of my journey all of these years. I have so much respect for all of you.
• To everyone in the media who’s covered my career and helped the growth of tennis in China and around the world.
• To the amazing tennis fans around the world – for your unyielding support of our sport and for playing every tennis match along with me.
• And lastly, to tennis fans in China – for getting on the bandwagon and staying on it! I am grateful to each and every one of you for pushing me to be my best, embracing me and loving me unconditionally. There is no limit to how far we can take the sport of tennis in China, together.

When I started playing tennis, I was just a neighbourhood kid with an afterschool hobby, not realizing what magical journey lay ahead of me. If I only knew what a vehicle the sport of tennis, along with my success, would become for my beloved China. While my journey hasn’t been easy, it has been rewarding. I’ve seen change happening in front of my eyes, young girls picking up tennis racquets, setting goals, following their hearts and believing in themselves. I hope that I’ve had the opportunity to inspire young women all over China to believe in themselves, to set their goals high and pursue them with vengeance and self-belief.

Whether you want to be a tennis player, a doctor, a lawyer, a teacher or a business leader, I urge you to believe in yourself and follow your dream. If I could do it, you can too! Be the bird that sticks out. With hard work, your dreams will come true.

LI NA

WTA Announcement on LI Na’s Retirement

ST PETERSBURG, FL, USA – Chinese tennis trailblazer and reigning Australian Open champion Li Na today brought down the curtain on a glittering 15-year professional career with the announcement of her official retirement from the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA). Winner of nine WTA singles titles, two doubles titles and a two-time Grand Slam champion, the 32-year-old marks the end of a career that saw her become one of the very best and most popular players in the history of women’s tennis.

 

“Li Na has been a fun, powerful, and wonderful player on the WTA tour and, along with her fans, I am sad to hear that she has retired,” said WTA Chairman & CEO Stacey Allaster. “In addition to her amazing tennis abilities and her warm and humorous personality, she is a pioneer who opened doors to tennis for hundreds of millions of people throughout China and Asia.  It’s hard to be a household name in a nation with 1.4 billion people, but that’s what Li Na is.  Thanks to all she has achieved and contributed, her legacy is immense and I have no doubt that her contributions to the WTA will be seen for decades to come in China, throughout Asia and the rest of the world.  I wish her the best of luck in this next chapter in her life.  I will miss her, and I know that while she may be retired from competition, she still will play a big role in the growth of our sport around the world.”

 

Li etched her name in the history books at Roland Garros in 2011 when she became the first Asian player to win a Grand Slam singles title, defeating Top 10 rivals in each of her last four matches. Earlier in 2011 she was the first player from the region to reach a major final, finishing runner-up to Kim Clijsters at the Australian Open. After another run to the final at the Australian Open in 2013, when she was edged by Victoria Azarenka in a dramatic three-setter, Li captured her second Grand Slam title at Melbourne Park in January this year – just the second woman aged over 30 to win the title in the Open Era, after Margaret Court. The victory helped propel Li to World No.2 on February 17, 2014 – the highest ranking ever attained by an Asian player.

 

Over the course of her career, particularly in later years as her success reached its crescendo, Li’s powerful game delivered against the very best. Her 21 wins over Top 5 opponents included two over reigning World No.1s – Serena Williams at Stuttgart in 2008 and Caroline Wozniacki at the 2011 Australian Open. In total she reached 21 WTA singles finals (going 9-12 in those) and in addition to her wins at the Australian Open and Roland Garros was a semifinalist at the US Open and quarterfinalist at Wimbledon.

 

Along the way, Li established a string of breakthroughs for Chinese tennis, alongside her Grand Slam title triumphs. She was the first to win a WTA singles title (2004 Guangzhou) and first to win a WTA Premier title (2011 Sydney); first to reach a Grand Slam singles quarterfinal (2006 Wimbledon); first to compete in singles at the WTA Finals (2011-13, finishing runner-up to S.Williams on her most recent appearance); and first to crack the singles Top 20 (August 14, 2006), Top 10 (February 1, 2010) and Top 5 (June 6, 2011). As wfaell as representing her country in Fed Cup competition in eight different years she was a three-time Olympian for China (Sydney 2000, Beijing 2008 and London 2012). She also played countrywoman Zheng Jie in the first All-Chinese WTA singles final at Estoril in 2006 (won by Zheng) and earlier this year won the second All-China final in WTA history at Shenzhen, defeating Peng Shuai for the title.

 

Li steps away from the game with a career singles win-loss record of 503-188 and prize money earnings of $16,709,074. She is currently ranked No.6.

 

Share