Osaka Mayor’s Cup 2011 – Finals

Jiri Vesely (CZE) Jiri Vesely showed why he is the world number one and all but guaranteed his place there in the year-end rankings thanks to a second Grade A title of the year at the Osaka Mayor’s Cup.

The 18-year-old became the first Czech player to win the event after being taken to three sets by Lucas Pouille. He’s now finally added to the Australian Open crown he gained in January having lost in the US Open final.

It proved to be one step too far for Frenchman Pouille, who had beaten second seed Luke Saville amongst other seeded players to get to the final.

The pair had only met on one other occasion, with Vesely recovering from a first set loss to triumph on the clay of last year’s Banana Bowl. This year on hard court, Vesely won the opener but costly mistakes in the second set meant the world number 131 levelled the scores.

An early break in the decider let the top seed in and he punished his opponent clinically to take the match 6-2, 2-6, 6-1.

It was a good day all round for the Czech as him and partner Kaichi Uchida also took the boys’ doubles crown after a rain delay on Saturday postponed the match. They eventually defeated Luke Saville and Andrew Harris 1-6, 7-5 [10-4].

For the second year running a Japanese finalist lost out in the girls’ event. Miho Kowase couldn’t stop Saisai Zheng from winning in 2010 and Makoto Ninomiya suffered the same fate against Poland’s Zuzanna Maciejewska.

Seventh seed Ninomiya went into the match as favourite given her higher ranking position and support from the home crowd but 12th seed Maciejewska wasn’t overawed.

It took her a while to get going, the first set going to a tiebreak which she scraped 7-5 but after that she ran riot to win 7-6 (7-5), 6-1. She is the first Polish champion at the Osaka Mayor’s Cup after going one better than Aleksandra Olsza’s runner-up spot in 1995.

There was, however, some joy for the Japanese audience as home players Mami Adachi and Eri Hozumi edged compatriots Miyu Kato and Riko Sawayanagi 5-7, 7-5 [10-7] in the girls’ doubles final.

Osaka Mayor’s Cup 2011 – Semi-finals

Top seed Jiri Vesely ended Kaichi Uchida’s dreams of a home victory in the Osaka Mayor’s Cup after clinching a straight sets win but hopes are still alive in the girls’ draw.

Fourth seed Uchida has always done well in his home tournament, breaking through as a qualifier in 2008 and had reached the semi-finals of Wimbledon this year. But once again he failed to make his Grade A final debut despite putting up a fight in the second set losing 6-1, 7-5.

World number one Vesely has gone from strength to strength since claiming the Australian Open crown in January having reached the final of the US Open and featured in the Davis Cup alongside fellow Czechs Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek.

He’s now into his third Grade A final of the year where he will face Lucas Pouille of France. Having a junior ranking of 131 is somewhat undeserved for Pouille as he’s concentrated on the Futures this year following a quarter-final run at the Australian Open.

The 17-year-old has defeated four seeds en route to the final including second seed Luke Saville and followed that up with another win over Aussie opposition in the semis.

Nick Kyrgios, the 14th seed, put in a hard fought display having won the first set on a tiebreak before losing the second the same way. Pouille managed to gain the crucial break in the third though, to take it 6-4.

The last Japanese winner in the girls’ event was Kurumi Nara in 2007 and this year’s seventh seed is one step away from matching that triumph.

Makoto Ninomiya, from Hiroshima, defeated her sixth seeded opponent Kathinka Von Deichmann thanks to her superior shot power and grit to come back from a set down.

With just four places separating them in the rankings it was always going to be a close match and after winning a second set tiebreak 7-4, Ninomiya clinched the match 6-4 in the third.

In contrast, the other semi-final was more of a rout. Polish 12th seed Zuzanna Maciejewska disposed of 13th seed Ratnika Batra easily and if it wasn’t for the solitary game the Indian secured in the first set it would have been a double bagel.

Batra complained of an injury to her right leg after the match but accepted the loss against a player who’s only dropped one set in the whole tournament.

It will be the first Grade A final for both Ninomiya and Maciejewska.

Osaka Mayor’s Cup 2011 – Quarter-finals

World number three and junior Wimbledon champion Luke Saville provided the biggest shock of the quarter-finals and perhaps the tournament as he lost to unseeded Frenchman Lucas Pouille in straight sets.

For Pouille, it may not have been that great a surprise as the in-form 17-year-old had already taken out the likes of 12th seed Rishabdev Raman and seventh seed Herkko Pollanen before facing Aussie second seed Saville.

The two had previously met in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open where Saville came out on top but this time he was on the end of a 6-4, 6-4 defeat meaning the world number 131 is the only unseeded player in the last four of both the boys’ and girls’ draws.

Jiri Vesely is now in a prime position to add to the Australian Open crowd he secured against Saville in the final after beating another Aussie in the last eight. Andrew Harris (9) pushed the top seed close in the first set but the Czech won the tiebreak and ran away with the match 7-5, 6-0.

His opponent in the semi-finals will be tough. Home favourite and fourth seed Kaichi Uchida stands in his way of a third Grade A final of the year following his 6-3, 7-5 victory over compatriot Soichiro Moritani.

Australia does still have an interest in the event with Pouille taking on 14th seed Nick Kyrgios after he avenged his nation with a straight sets win against Gregoire Barrere of France.

There was more of a customary feel to the quarter-final matches in the girls’ event. The last four spaces have all been filled by seeds meaning the spirited runs of Katy Dunne, Justine De Sutter and in particular Japanese wildcard Yukato Noi have all ground to a halt.

Dunne was beaten by Polish 12th seed Zuzanna Maciejewska, De Sutter was crushed by Indian 13th seed Ratnika Batra while Noi put in a fighting performance but ultimately lost to fellow home player and seventh seed Makoto Ninomiya.

Kathinka Von Deichmann (6) of Liechtenstein completes the last four line-up after beating Olga Doroshina (16). She’ll take on Ninomiya with Maciejewska playing Batra.

There was better news for Saville in the doubles as him and Andrew Harris reached the final where they’ll face Jiri Vesely and Kaichi Uchida. The girls’ doubles final will be an all-Japanese affair as Miyu Kato and Riko Sawayanagi play Eri Hozumi and Mami Adachi.

All the scores and results for the boys’ and girls’ singles as well as the boys’ and girls’ doubles are available as drawsheets via the ITF Juniors website.

Osaka Mayor’s Cup 2011 – Day 4

Japan are guaranteed to have a semi-finalist present in both the boys’ and girls’ singles of the Osaka Mayor’s Cup but there will only be one in each as eight out of 12 home players lost in the third round.

The biggest names to fall were in the girls’ draw. Second seed Miyu Kato and last year’s beaten finalist and third seed Miho Kowase were comprehensively beaten in straight sets.

India’s 13th seed Ratnika Batra defeated Kato 6-3, 6-4 while Russian 16th seed Olga Doroshina put in a remarkable performance to crush Kowase 6-3, 6-1.

They were also joined through the exit door by Nao Hibino as the ninth seed couldn’t handle former European Junior Championships quarter-finalist Kathinka Von Deichmann. The sixth seed from Liechtenstein won 6-1, 6-2.

Yukako Noi and Makoto Ninomiya did progress for the hosts though but seventh seed Ninomiya will now face wildcard Noi for that single semi-final berth.

There were other major upsets to report in the girls’ event.  Justine De Sutter came through two tiebreaks to see off Abbie Myers (11) while Katy Dunne continued her good run by claiming her second seeded scalp of the tournament in the form of Anna Tyulpa (4).

She’ll now face Zuzanna Maciejewska (12) who, like Dunne, progressed in three sets.

After losing the opening set of his tournament top seed Jiri Vesely now looks in imperious form in the boys’ competition having beaten 16th seed Joshua Ward-Hibbert after losing only two games.

Second seed Luke Saville secured a 6-4, 6-4 win and is also in good form having not lost a set thus far but third seed Nikola Milojevic is out after losing by the same scoreline to 14th seed Nick Kyrgios.

Saville and Kyrgios are one of three Aussies in the quarter-finals as fifth seed Pedja Kristen couldn’t exact revenge on Andrew Harris (9) following his fellow Serb Milojevic’s exit.

The Aussie pair of Saville and Kyrgios will both face French opponents after Gregoire Barrere and Lucas Pouille upset the odds by beating Xin Gao (6) and Herkko Pollanen (7) respectively.

Meanwhile, fourth seed and home favourite Kaichi Uchida will take on compatriot Soichiro Moritani for a place in the last four having reached the quarter-finals with straights sets wins.

The full quarter-final line-up is as follows:

Boys’ Singles

VESELY, Jiri (CZE) [1] vs. HARRIS, Andrew (AUS) [9]

UCHIDA, Kaichi (JPN) [4] vs. MORITANI, Soichiro (JPN)

BARRERE, Gregoire (FRA) vs. KYRGIOS, Nick (AUS) [14]

POUILLE, Lucas (FRA) vs. SAVILLE, Luke (AUS) [2]

Girls’ Singles

NOI, Yukako (JPN) (W) vs. NINOMIYA, Makoto (JPN) [7]

DOROSHINA, Olga (RUS) [16] vs. VON DEICHMANN, Kathinka (LIE) [6]

MACIEJEWSKA, Zuzanna (POL) [12] vs. DUNNE, Katy (GBR)

DE SUTTER, Justine (BEL) vs. BATRA, Ratnika (IND) [13]

All the scores and results for the boys’ and girls’ singles as well as the boys’ and girls’ doubles are available as drawsheets via the ITF Juniors website.

Osaka Mayor’s Cup 2011 – Day 3

The Japanese players continued to make home advantage count on Day 3 in Osaka as seven girls and five boys made it into the last 16 draws following some big upsets.

The biggest seed to fall was that of eighth seed Enzo Couacaud in a tense three-setter against Soichiro Moritani.

The Frenchman had won the first set and will rue his missed chances as he lost a second set tiebreak 7-5 before Moritani closed out the match 6-2 in the decider.

Their best hope in the boys’ singles, fourth seed Kaichi Uchida, made light work of Britain’s Evan Hoyt conquering the Junior Davis Cup champion 6-3, 6-2.

Being the only seeded Japanese player in the last 16, it will be tough for Uchida to go all the way especially with Jiri Vesely (1), Luke Saville (2) and Nikola Milojevic (3) also through.

It was a comfortable progression to the third round for Ken Onishi despite his seeded opponent’s better ranking and older age. James Frawley, the 15th seed, was dispatch of 6-1, 6-1.

After coming through two tiebreaks in his opening round, wildcard Masaki Osafune had an easier workout against the 13th seed Jeroen Vanneste coming through 6-4, 6-3.

He joins Pedja Krsten (5), Xin Gao (6), Herkko Pollanen (7), Andrew Harris (9), Nick Kyrgios (14) and Joshua Ward-Hibbert (16) in the third round.

Risa Ozaki (JPN)

In the girls’ event there are four Japanese seeds remaining. However that doesn’t include fifth seed Risa Ozaki who lost to her compatriot Riko Sawayanagi in a mammoth match that went to 7-5 in each of the three sets.

Miyu Kato (2), Miho Kowase (3) Makoto Ninomiya (7) and Nao Hibino (9) did win in straight sets though along with wildcard Yukako Noi who beat the top seed in her opening match.

To go against the grain, a British player caused a shock. Katy Dunne saw off 14th seed Elke Lemmens of Belgium 6-3, 6-3 to join Anna Tyulpa (4), Kathinka Von Deichmann (6) Abbie Myers (11), Zuzanna Maciejewska (12), Ratnika Batra (13), Olga Doroshina (16) in the third round.

All the scores and results for the boys’ and girls’ singles are available in a drawsheet via the ITF Juniors website.

Osaka Mayor’s Cup 2011 – Day 2

It proved to be a successful day for Japan’s crop of home hopefuls on the second day of the Osaka Mayor’s Cup as their top seeds progressed to the second round. 

It was always going to be a decent day as Miyu Kato and Miho Kowase both defeated Japanese opposition but their chances of a home champion will be increased with second seed Kato and third seed Kowase in the draw.

Kowase reached the final last year but lost out to China’s Saisai Zheng and after beating Hayaka Murase 6-4, 6-3 she’ll be looking to go one better this year.

After Ellen Allgurin’s loss on the opening day, Kato is the higest ranked player left in the draw and showed her worth by only losing two games to Misato Hatamori but with only one place between her and Kowase she’ll be pushed all the way.

The home joy continued when Hikari Yamamoto, a player ranked 463 in the world, managed to overcome a first set bagel to beat tenth seed Emily Fanning. New Zealander Fanning had won three titles in two months during the summer but lost 0-6, 6-1, 6-4.

There was also a win for ninth seed Nao Hibino of (you guessed it) Japan and Polish 12th seed Zuzanna Maciejewska also went through.

Kaichi Uchida

The host country’s highest seed in the boys’ draw also progressed. Kaichi Uchida, the fourth seed, beat compatriot Masashi Watanabe 6-3, 6-1.

Unlike in the girls’ event, no upsets were recorded in the boys’ as Andrew Harris (9) and Jeroen Vanneste (13) defeated Japanese opposition while James Frawley (15) and Joshua Ward-Hibbert (16) were also victorious.

The latter joined fellow Brit Evan Hoyt in the second round, fresh from his title-winning exploits at the Junior Davis Cup earlier in the month.

All the scores and results for the boys’ and girls’ singles are available in a drawsheet via the ITF Juniors website.

Osaka Mayor’s Cup 2011 – Day 1

Ellen Allgurin (SWE) Sweden’s Ellen Allgurin was the biggest casualty on the opening day at the Utsubo Tennis Center as the number one seed fell to Japanese wildcard Yukako Noi.

Allgurin would have fancied her chances of winning the tournament being only one of three top 50 players in Osaka and took the advantage in the first set by taking it 6-3.

However, she was unable to finish off her homegrown opponent and lost the next two sets with 18-year-old Noi winning 3-6, 6-3, 7-5 in her first appearance on the ITF Junior circuit this year.

Her fellow countrywoman and fifth seed Risa Ozaki suffered a scare in her first round match by losing the opener on a tiebreak but eventually made it through 6-7 (7-9), 6-2, 6-2.

There wasn’t such comebacks for Ayaka Okuno (8) and Kanami Tsuji (15) as they crashed out in straight sets but with Makoto Ninomiya (7) through and Miyu Kato, Miho Kowase (3) and Nao Hibino (9) still to play, a Japanese champion is still a real possibility.

Elsewhere, seeds Anna Tyulpa (4), Kathinka Von Deichmann (6), Abbie Myers (11), Ratnika Batra (13), Elke Lemmens (14) and Olga Doroshina (16) all successfully made it to round two.

The top seed in the boys’ draw also struggled against Japanese opposition. Jiri Vesely lost the first set on a tiebreak but went on to win 6-7 (4-7), 6-2, 6-1 with relative ease.

Second seed Luke Saville along with Serbian third and fifth seeds Nikola Milojevic and Pedja Krsten all won comfortably in straight sets. A number of other seeds did fall though.

Greek Markos Kalovelonis (11) lost to 16-year-old Brit Tom Hill with New Zealand’s Jaden Grinter (10) and India’s Rishabdev Raman (12) succumbing to French duo Gregoire Barrere and Lucas Pouille respectively.

Meanwhile, Xin Gao (6), Herkko Pollanen (7), Enzo Couacaud (8) and Nick Kyrgios (14) all progressed.

All the scores and results for the boys’ and girls’ singles are available in a drawsheet via the ITF Juniors website.

Osaka Mayor’s Cup 2011 – Main Draw

As the ATP and WTA players conclude their tour of Asia it’s time for the juniors to show what they can do on the continent.

The Osaka Mayor’s Cup in Japan is the penultimate Grade A tournament of the year on the junior circuit and will feature an abundance of homegrown players.

Every single player in qualifying for boys and girls was of Japanese nationality and 65 have made it into the main draw in total.

The biggest name at the tournament this year is Czech Jiri Vesely. The boys’ world number one, 2011 Australian Open winner and US Open finalist joins Wimbledon champion Luke Saville as the favourite.

In contrast the girls’ draw lacks a main challenger. Top seed Ellen Allgurin is ranked 27th in the world so the Japanese players will feel their chance of a home victory is within their grasp.

The main draw in full is:

Boys’ Singles – 1st Round
VESELY, Jiri (CZE) [1] vs. KAWACHI, Kazuma (JPN)
GOTO, Shotaro (JPN) (W) vs. NGUYEN HOANG, Thien (VIE)
TAKAHASHI, Yusuke (JPN) (W) vs. HORIKIRI, Hiroki (JPN) (Q)
HORTON, Nicholas (AUS) vs. WARD-HIBBERT, Joshua (GBR) [16]
HARRIS, Andrew (AUS) [9] vs. TAKAGI, Satoshi (JPN) (Q)
LAI, Kai-Wen (TPE) vs. TSUNEMATSU, Takumi (JPN) (Q)
HIKINO, Masatoshi (JPN) vs. KRSTIN, Pedja (SRB) [5]
UCHIDA, Kaichi (JPN) [4] vs. WATANABE, Masashi (JPN) (Q)
ILKEL, Cem (TUR) vs. HOYT, Evan (GBR)
ONISHI, Ken (JPN) vs. MIOCIC, Franko (CRO)
STORME, James Junior (BEL) vs. FRAWLEY, James (AUS) [15]
KALOVELONIS, Markos (GRE) [11] vs. HILL, Tom (GBR)
UESUGI, Kaito (JPN) (Q) vs. YAMASAKI, Jumpei (JPN)
LEE, Jea Moon (KOR) vs. MORITANI, Soichiro (JPN)
NUMAJIRI, Keisuke (JPN) vs. COUACAUD, Enzo (FRA) [8]
GAO, Xin (CHN) [6] vs. TANUMA, RYOTA (JPN)
TAKEMOTO, Yusuke (JPN) (Q) vs. KATO, Ryusei (JPN) (Q)
BARRERE, Gregoire (FRA) vs. GRINTER, Jaden (NZL) [10]
KYRGIOS, Nick (AUS) [14] vs. KURIBAYASHI, Souma (JPN) (W)
CORNISH, Jonathan (GBR) vs. SAITO, Takashi (JPN)
HO, Chih-Jen (TPE) vs. OIKAWA, Aiki (JPN)
KOAYKUL, Krittin (THA) vs. MILOJEVIC, Nikola (SRB) [3]
POLLANEN, Herkko (FIN) [7] vs. THOMPSON, Jordan (AUS)
HAN, Sung Min (KOR) vs. YOSHIDA, Genki (JPN)
JAO, Chi-Shan (TPE) vs. MATSUZAKI, Yutaro (JPN)
POUILLE, Lucas (FRA) vs. RAMAN, Rishabdev (IND) [12]
VANNESTE, Jeroen (BEL) [13] vs. TANIMOTO, Manato (JPN) (Q)
PAGE, Joshua (GBR) vs. OSAFUNE, Masaki (JPN) (W)
KATO, Shoma (JPN) (W) vs. SAVILLE, Luke (AUS) [2]

Girls’ Singles – 1st Round
ALLGURIN, Ellen (SWE) [1] vs. NOI, Yukako (JPN) (W)
HOZUMI, Eri (JPN) vs. SANKAEW, Napatsakorn (THA)
OKAWA, Mayu (JPN) vs. ZHANG, Yukun (CHN)
LIEBENS, Klaartje (BEL) vs. TSUJI, Kanami (JPN) [15]
FANNING, Emily (NZL) [10] vs. YAMAMOTO, Hikari (JPN)
VAIDYA, Kanika (IND) vs. AGATA, Reika (JPN) (Q)
TSAO, Fang-Chi (TPE) vs. NINOMIYA, Makoto (JPN) [7]
KOWASE, Miho (JPN) [3] vs. MURASE, Hayaka (JPN) (Q)
SHANKLE, Blair (USA) vs. MUKAI, Maria (JPN) (W)
SATO, Mayu (JPN) vs. SCOTT, Verena Jane (GBR)
KAJI, Haruka (JPN) vs. DOROSHINA, Olga (RUS) [16]
HIBINO, Nao (JPN) [9] vs. NAKASHIBA, Miki (JPN) (Q)
MALIK, Aarzoo (IND) vs. CHIMURA, Natsumi (JPN)
RUHRIG, Georgiana (AUS) vs. SAKAMOTO, Asuka (JPN)
ADACHI, Mami (JPN) vs. VON DEICHMANN, Kathinka (LIE) [6]
OZAKI, Risa (JPN) [5] vs. SZLAVIKOVICS, Szabina (HUN)
OKAMURA, Kyouka (JPN) (Q) vs. SAWAYANAGI, Riko (JPN)
HOPPER, Skye (AUS) vs. OHTA, Sanae (JPN)
AYUKAWA, Mana (JPN) vs. MACIEJEWSKA, Zuzanna (POL) [12]
LEMMENS, Elke (BEL) [14] vs. OGATA, Haine (JPN)
EMI, Yukino (JPN) vs. DUNNE, Katy (GBR)
PIIRTOLA, Petra (FIN) vs. MIYAZAKI, Yuriko (JPN)
LENERTZ, Celine (AUS) vs. TYULPA, Anna (RUS) [4]
OKUNO, Ayaka (JPN) [8] vs. DE SUTTER, Justine (BEL)
SOYLU, Ipek (TUR) vs. SAIGO, Yukina (JPN)
SONODA, Ayano (JPN) vs. MYERS, Abbie (AUS) [11]
BATRA, Ratnika (IND) [13] vs. YAMADA, Chieko (JPN)
KAKUYA, Akiho (JPN) (Q) vs. HIGASHI, Ayaka (JPN) (W)
SHUTO, Minami (JPN) (Q) vs. TERAMI, Karin (JPN) (Q)
HATAMORI, Misato (JPN) (Q) vs. KATO, Miyu (JPN) [2]

If you’d like to see which Japanese players missed out then a full rundown of boys’ and girls’ singles qualifying is available via the ITF Juniors website.

Shanghai Heights

Andy Murray wins Japan Open 2011 over Nadal Following the conclusion of the Shanghai Masters, Andy Murray will rise to number three in the world after taking the title in China as part of his immense end-of-season form.

The Brit has now won three consecutive titles to surpass Roger Federer as the world’s third best player. It’s the first time Federer has been outside the top three since winning Wimbledon in 2003.

If Murray can build on that and finish the year-end rankings at No.3 then it could be hugely significant for the future of men’s tennis.

Federer is clearly in decline having not won a Grand Slam title since the 2010 Australian Open and the chances of him adding to his 16-strong tally are getting exceedingly unlikely at the age of 30.

For 24-year-old Murray, he is now in a very strong position. Should he make the third spot his own, his opponent in any future Grand Slam semi-final will most likely turn out to be Novak Djokovic.

Though playing the current world number one sounds daunting Murray has had a decent record over the Serb in the past. Djokovic was something of a surprise package this year having only won two majors in his career before 2011 to now holding three of the four.

That surprise element won’t be at his disposal next year and Murray can learn from Djokovic’s ability to convert a No.3 spot in the world to the top during the winter break.

The ultimatum of winning a major is still a great one with Djokovic’s currently unstoppable form and Rafael Nadal waiting in the wings but at least the greatest player of all time looks to be going in the opposite direction to help him out.

Elsewhere in Shanghai, there was a great run from Japan’s Kei Nishikori – a player Ace of Baseline has been tracking all year.

The 21-year-old reached his first Masters semi-final after wins over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Alexandr Dolgopolov before being beaten by Murray.

Nishikori will now become the highest ranked male Japanese player of all time beating Shuzo Matsuoka’s record of No.46 which he’d already equalled. He’s now expected to be just outside the top 30.

Another player who’s enjoyed success this year is Bernard Tomic who defeated the second top 10 player of his career when he took out Mardy Fish in the second round.

Ryan Harrison lost at the same stage to Matthew Ebden having beaten Viktor Troicki in the previous round.

Li Na Criticism

Since winning the French Open and in turn becoming the first Asian to win a Grand Slam title, Li Na has only won six matches on the WTA Tour.

Na Li

This has left her open to much criticism which this week intensified as she crashed out of her homecoming match at the China Open to world number 58 Monica Niculescu of Romania.

Still ranked in the top 10 and fifth in the WTA Championships Race thanks to a fine start to the season, which included an appearance in the Australian Open final and that Roland Garros success, the root of the criticism has materialised from the Chinese media.

That seems awfully harsh considering what she’s done for tennis in the country and continent as a whole. The argument is she’s concentrating on earning sponsorship off the court rather than practising on it.

The 29-year-old has signed seven endorsement deals with brands such as Mercedes, Rolex and Haagen-Dazs to be the face of those companies in China.

She’s now the second-highest earning female athlete after Maria Sharapova and all that has led to her own fans turning on her.

It’s no surprise that she’s been quoted as saying:

I’ve just lost all confidence now. I don’t know what I can do. Even winning one point is tough for me.

The pressure to perform in front of her adoring public and the need to win in order to please the sponsors is a head-spinning feeling and one which she can’t escape from as she’ll be demanded to play tournaments.

In a way, it’s her own undoing but you can’t blame her for taking the money and running. At 29, the chances are she won’t have another chance to become financially secure as Caroline Wozniacki pointed out in her defence of the player. Does that make Li Na a sell out though?

Certainly if she’s going to lose 6-4, 6-0 against a qualifier every match then something is up. The aggro she’s been receiving from her own support won’t help her.

The best thing for her to do now is avoid the internet, newspapers and TV and – no matter what the sponsors say – rest. Tennis is what got her where she is today and doing herself justice on the court has to be the priority.

When she’s had a break in the winter then she should come back fighting.

Li Na celebrating on her return to China in July. 

%d bloggers like this: