Posts Tagged ‘Li Na’

China’s Li Na versus Kim Clijsters in the Australian Open

January 29, 2011

So tonight in the Australian Open, China’s Li Na does battle against Kim Clijsters for what could be China’s first grand slam victory. Li Na has been a surprise to many people, seeming to come from nowhere. Of course that’s largely because she’s Chinese and not one of these glam blonde bimbos who get buried in sponsorship deals and then fail to achieve.

Li has actually been around for quite some time, is ranked number 9 and is proving that she can be a real force to be reckoned with. In her previous game versus world number one, Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki, Li came back from one set down and match point, to claim the win.

She has endeared herself to the Australian media with her frank comments about her husband’s snoring, made even more charming by her broken English.

While I like both players, I am really hoping Li Na does win. She seems like a genuinely nice person, and it cracks me up every time I see her husband’s face when she pokes fun at him. If she does in fact win, expect the Chinese to go nuts about it, and it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if a whole array of tennis work camps popped up all over the country, trying their hardest to ‘cultivate’ more Chinese champions.

Perplexed by a name!

January 24, 2011

If there’s one thing you’ll learn early on when studying Mandarin, the Chinese ‘alphabet’ is pronounced differently to our own. You will become intimately acquainted with pinyin; a system developed to help Romanize the Chinese characters into something readable for us English speaking westerners.

Once you have pinyin under your belt, you can strut around with a certain arrogance, as you listen to sports commentators and news readers continually mis-pronounce Chinese words. In particular, anything that begins with letters such as zh or x are always cause for amusement.

It must then be a pleasure to commentate a tennis game with a player whose name as simple as Na Li, such as the current Chinese champion who is playing in the Australian Open. Though even Na Li – which as simple as it sounds, is still not correct Chinese – family before first name, aka Li Na, not Na Li.

Now I am very familiar with Pinyin, having once upon a time suddenly turned a corner and remembered most of the pronunciations. Which brings me to Li Cunxin, author of Mao’s Last Dancer – a book which at least five people will recommend to you every year, and a book I have to jump on the bandwagon and recommend myself. A book whose movie also did it absolutely no justice I have to add..but that’s another story.

This guy’s name simply does not make sense to me. Li – easy, that simply sounds like Lee. But Cunxin….this has me stumped. The proper pronunciation is supposedly, “Schwin Sing.” The Sing makes sense for Xin. Xin can either be Shin, or Sin, depending on which part of China you come from and your accent. Sing is obviously just another accent (it’s not a confusing language at all is it?)

But Schwin?! That I absolutely cannot understand. Cun to me should be ts-un. C in Chinese is usually the ‘ts’ sound, like the ts at the end of ‘cats’. So ‘ts-un’ as a sound would make sense. But where Schwin comes from….if anyone knows how that works, I would love to hear from you.

Chinese tennis assault!

January 31, 2010

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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