Monday 5 December 2016

Family matters as Li and Wozniacki make final push

Mark Hodgkinson

Published 26/01/2011 | 05:00

A few years ago someone at the Chinese Tennis Federation was quoted as telling the state media, "we will find the girls boyfriends when needed -- I think romance is a kind of motivation for them".

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The issue they had then with Li Na was not finding her a boyfriend, as she already had a husband, but identifying the coach who would best help with what was described -- and maybe this reads worse in translation -- as her "weak mentality".

In the end, a decision was reached in Beijing that Li would work with her husband, a former tennis player called Jiang Shan. Mixing their personal and professional lives has worked well for her, as today she will make her second successive appearance in the semi-finals of the Australian Open.

A year after losing a tight match against Serena Williams in two tie-breaks, Li will play Caroline Wozniacki, Denmark's world No 1, as she attempts to become the first woman from China to play in the final of a Grand Slam tournament.

No doubt Beijing would have been watching as Li reached the last four in Australia again by beating German Andrea Petkovic, an admirer of Che Guevara, and a winner over Maria Sharapova in the previous round.

The revolution petered out for Petkovic in the Rod Laver Arena, with Li outplaying her for a 6-2 6-4 victory.

Watched by her father and coach Piotr, Wozniacki came from a set and a break down against Francesca Schiavone -- who was very energetic given that her match in the previous round against Svetlana Kuznetsova had been the longest women's match ever played at the Grand Slams at four hours and 44 minutes.

Wozniacki was 3-1 down in the second set, but won 3-6 6-3 6-3.

One player will have a husband for a coach, and the other a father for a coach, so today's match will show that working with a family member can bring success.

Unfortunately, not all players travel so happily with their families, and Victorian state police have confirmed that they are investigating an incident relating to Aravane Rezai, the world No 22 from France.

The women's tour said in a statement that an unnamed member of Rezai's family had been suspended while they investigated what they called "a serious safety matter", and there had been suggestions in the French press that her father had a confrontation with her boyfriend just before her first-round match, which she lost. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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