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New Season, New Goals for Chinese Tennis
    2007-01-22 14:41:51     CRIENGLISH.com
Chinese tennis player Li Na has made it into the fourth round of the Australian Open by beating world No.10 Dinara Safina in strait sets Sunday. The 6-2, 6-2 win in just 73 minutes made Li Na the first Chinese in the final 16 of the Australian Open's singles event. She edged into the last eight at Wimbledon last year, the best performance for any Chinese singles player to achieve in a Grand Slam event.

Meanwhile, two-time Grand Slam doubles winner Zheng Jie and Yanzi are through to the third round, while the newly paired Sun Tiantian and Sun Shengnan have made it into the 4th.

As CRI's Xu Weiyi now reports, after a hugely successful season last year, China's female tennis players seem to have made a strong start in 2007.

The past year has been far from ordinary for Chinese tennis.

Now, in 2007, one of the most important tasks for the Chinese women's national tennis team to ensure continued success is to regroup one of its double's teams.

It has decided to break up Athens Olympics doubles champions Li Ting and Sun Tiantian, citing their failure to make progress in the last two years.

Head coach of the national team Jiang Hongwei elaborates.

"The two players have problems with cooperation. Li Ting's declining performance has affected the development of the entire team. Although they won the Olympic title, their development is not satisfactory. So they must be separated. This is a natural decision."

According to the plan, Su Tiantian will team up with different Chinese tennis players for this year's grand slams and other major tennis events.

Jiang Hongwei says the trials aim to form a strong doubles team in a short time to prepare for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

In addition to regrouping this doubles team, another major task for the Chinese tennis team is to balance the strength of its players in singles and doubles.

Of all those on the team, only Doha Asian Games singles and doubles' winner Zheng Jie has a good record in both fields.

Meanwhile, Li Na, who ranks 16th in the worldthe highest of any Chinese playerranks just between 70th and 80th in doubles.

Jiang Hongwei is worried about the situation.

"I hope the two rankings get closer. The gap shouldn't be too large. Especially when your ability in singles decreases, your performance in doubles drops as well."

He says, to reach a balance, the fundamental thing is improving the team's performance in singles matches.

Therefore, the Chinese team has another task: to ensure the ranking of the country's top seed Li Na remains among the world's top 15.

Zhang Hongwei says they have recruited Li Na's husband Jiang Shan, who is also a tennis coach, to help coach the national team. He will help Li Na deal with pressure, the biggest challenge for her.

Xu Weiyi, CRI news.
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