China bags Asiad team tennis title after 24 yrs

Updated: 2010-11-17 13:05


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China bags Asiad team tennis title after 24 yrs

Peng Shuai of China returns a shot during their women's team tennis competition with Chinese Taipei at the Guangzhou Asian Games, Nov 16, 2010. [Photo/Xinhua]

GUANGDONG - Wimbledon semifinalist Li Na led host China to capture the team tennis title on Tuesday at the Asian Games, accomplishing her Asiad tour with three consecutive victories.

It has been 24 years since China bagged the team tennis title in Seoul Asian Games in 1986.

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Live television coverage allowed China's millions of tennis fans watch China's tennis "golden flowers" accomplish the dream of retaining the Asiad title.

Li, currently world number 11, carried on her dominance in the previous two singles of the team competitions, and thumped Chinese Taipei top seed Chan Yung-jan 6-1, 6-1 in the final.

After bustling into a 6-1 lead, the Chinese top favourite rolled on in the second set with her powerful baseline shots and accurate hits, and posted another 6-1 against Chan Yung-jan.

Li didnot give her rival any openings, breaking her serves twice in the first set, and four times in the second set, never looking back to notch the win.

"I felt excited when I was on court and I didnot feel much pressure," said Li. "We lost the gold at Doha Asian Games, and this time we were fully prepared."

Her opponent appreciated Li's "excellent" skills, saying she could not control Li's cross shots.

"Even if we failed to defend the title, it does not mean that we aren't making progress," said Chan Yung-jan.

Four years ago, Chinese Taipei claimed women's team gold in Doha, while China tasted sorrow as it was defeated by Uzbekistan in the semifinals.

Li's triumph was joined by her teammate Peng Shuai, who defeated Chinese Taipei's Chang Kai Chen 6-3, 7-5 in another singles.

"I felt extremely nervous this morning because I was too eager for the victory," said Peng, whose knee injury caused her absent from this year's Australian and French Opens, and pulled out of the US Open midway.

Though defending doubles champion Yan Zi and her new pair Zhuang Shuai were defeated in doubles by Doha silver medallist Chuang Chia Jung and her pair Hsieh Suwei, China passed over Chinese Taipei to atop the Asiad tennis podium with an overall 2-1 advance.

"The gold reveals our tennis strength in Asia, and means a lot to us," said head coach Jiang Hongwei of the Chinese tennis team.

Tuesday also saw the last Asiad show of Li Na, who was absent from the following singles and was to leave Guangzhou and next prepare for the Australian Open falling on next January.

Earlier she said the Guangzhou Asian Games would be her last Asiad, and a gold in team event was what she expected most.

"Li's participation of the Guangzhou Games was great inspiration for her young fellows who were trained with her," said head coach Jiang.

On the men's side, top seed Chinese Taipei cleared the shadow of top favourite Lu Yen Hsun's early quit for a back injury, and edged Uzbekistan 2-1 to claim the team tennis gold.

"I really regret not being able to fight for my team in the semifinals and final," said Lu, currently world number 35. "But my younger fellows had done very good job in the competitions, and we are so glad to take the gold."

It is the first time for Chinese Taipei to bag an Asiad men's team tennis title.

The tennis events of Guangzhou Asian Games are scheduled from November 13-23, with athletes competing for seven gold medals of men's and women's singles, doubles, teams and mix doubles.

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