expert: Li’s form slump just temporary

Updated: 2011-04-13 08:02

(China Daily)

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Chinese ace Li Na's four consecutive first-round losses at WTA tournaments after the Australian Open this year disappointed fans who expected more after she reached the final at Melbourne Park three months ago.

However, renowned coach Carlos Rodriguez attributed Li's poor performance to the "emotional wave after big events", which is normal in professional tennis.

"A player's mood always swings up and down during the year. It happens to everyone," said Rodriguez, who coached Belgian former world No 1, Justine Henin, for 15 years and guided her to seven Grand Slam titles.

"High-level aces keep the disturbances as slight as possible to maintain top form.

"Li went so high emotionally after the major tour success. She is just now in the process of rising from the bottom. It's nothing about skills or physical condition. I believe she will come back."

Li, who is now training in Germany to prepare for the series of clay tournaments in Europe, echoed Rodriguez's opinion, saying "she is recovering from the valley".

Li also denied rumors spread by the media that she would retire at the end of the season.

Meanwhile, Li's compatriot, Peng Shuai, has enjoyed good momentum recently, achieving 25 victories at the 39 WTA tournaments she has played this season.

The 25-year-old improved her world ranking to No 29 on Monday and became the third Chinese player to reach the top 30 after Li and Zheng Jie.

Peng's 25-win record stands behind only world No 1 Caroline Wozniacki's 26 after last week's Family Circle Cup, where she cruised into the semifinals.

"Actually, I did nothing to adjust her technique or strategy," said Peng's coach, Alan Ma, who began to guide Peng in 2004.

"I just encouraged her by daily phone calls and e-mail contact. Just tuned her up mentally and reduced the pressure that she used to put on herself."

Sun Xiaochen

(China Daily 04/13/2011 page23)


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