Chinese tennis assault!

by

Zheng Jie

The Australian Open concludes today, with the much anticipated battle between world number 1, Roger Federer, taking on UK hopeful, no.5, Andy Murray. While I am sure most of England (who has no problem claiming the Scot as their victory drought breaker) will be behind Murray; personally I’d like to see Federer destroy him.

On another note, the Open has been great for Chinese tennis, in particular Zheng Jie and Li Na, both of which made it to the semi-finals – only to be eliminated in very different ways. Li Na was put up against the veritable mountainous Serena Williams – and one would assume would be drilled accordingly – but not so! Li Na truly took it to the American champion, and while losing, the game could have gone any way.

On the other side of the fence, Zheng Jie (who I had the pleasure of watching last season), came up against Justine Henin – who is newly returned to the game from a some two year ‘finding herself’ period. Making it to the semi’s was likewise a first for Zheng, instantly propelling her to Chinese stardom back home – but unfortunately, unlike comrade Li – Zheng was textbook destroyed, 6-1, 6-0 with what was described as a clinical victory for Henin.

Li Na - Check out those arms...

While in China, many of my students mentioned that they loved the tennis, and I was always only too happy to discuss it with them. It makes me happy to think that these two woman’s tennis players will no doubt be their next heroes. While last year, they might have said Federer was their favourite – this year, I have no doubt that Li  and Zheng are getting honourable mentions.

If there’s one thing about China and sport however, there is no doubt that on the backs of these victories, it could potentially fuel massive funding into developing future tennis stars. China is all about harvesting the glory – and it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if within the next ten years, more and more Chinese players appeared on the scene – each seeking their own little slice of cultural pride.

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