- Stephanie Myles at Busted Racquet4 days ago
Above are some of the best wire photos of Li Na over the last few years.
Below are some of the more candid shots we took around the Tour – on the practice courts, with coach Carlos Rodriguez, some lighter moments and, of course, long-suffering husband Jiang Shan – better known to American audiences as Dennis.
- Busted Racquet4 days ago
There will be an official press conference on Sunday in Wuhan, China as the WTA Tour event that comes to life for the first time in her hometown gets under way. But in the meantime, Chinese tennis superstar Li Na has announced her retirement, effective immediately, in a letter to her fans on her Facebook page.
A season that began with her watershed victory at the Australian Open – which bills itself as the Grand Slam of Asia-Pacific – cannot even be completed.
"The task of finally making a decision to hang up my racquet felt a lot more difficult than winning seven matches in a row in the Australian heat. It took me several agonizing months to finally come to the decision that my chronic injuries will never again let me be the tennis player that I can be. Walking away from the sport, effective immediately, is the right decision for me and my family," Li wrote in the letter.
Over the last six years, Li had three surgeries on her right knee, which was never without its intricate black tape job on court. There were countless injections and treatments designed to try to manage the knee well enough to remain on court.
U.S. Davis Cup team will have an opportunity for revenge against Great Britain – but will have to go on the roadBusted Racquet4 days ago
The draw for the 2015 Davis Cup World Group was made Thursday in Dubai. And when all the pairings were finalized, some intriguing matchups emerged.
The American team, forced to contest a playoff tie last weekend against Slovakia because of its first-round loss to the Andy Murray-led Great Britain squad last February in San Diego, will have an opportunity for immediate revenge.
The two teams will meet again in the first round, March 6-8, 2015. Because the U.S. was the host nation the last time, it will be the road squad for this one.
The question today was: if the Scottish independence vote passes today, will Murray be a part of the British team in six months' time? Without him, the Americans would be overwhelming favorites. But Murray himself confirmed Thursday that regardless of the outcome, he would indeed play for Great Britain in 2015; there would not be an official team representing Scotland until at least 2016, at any rate.
Here are the other first-round ties in the World Group:
*France at Germany
*Japan at Canada
- Busted Racquet4 days ago
The people of Scotland go to the pools today to vote on whether they want to achieve independence from the mothership in Great Britain.
And Scotland's greatest tennis player, Andy Murray, who plays under the Great Britain banner, took a stand on Wednesday:
Huge day for Scotland today! no campaign negativity last few days totally swayed my view on it. excited to see the outcome. lets do this!
Six months ago, Murray contended he wouldn't go there, because it was a no-win situation. He had a last-minute change of heart.
Reaction, not surprisingly, came quickly.
Thanks, Andy Murray, for disappointing my mum. She's defended your grumpy face and foul-mouth all these years. Shame on you.
Murray has 2.7 million Twitter followers. As of 10 a.m. EDT, he was reTweeted nearly 16,000 times, and favorited more than 10,000 times.
There is irony to his stand, of course.
“@andy_murray: The no campaign negativity last few days totally swayed my view on it. lets do this!”You live in England. Can't vote 👋👏😂
- Stephanie Myles at Busted Racquet5 days ago
There have been persistent reports the last few months that Li Na, the Chinese mega-star who won the Australian Open this year, is about to retire.
The latest, from a Chinese news outlet (we have no way of knowing how reliable this is, so take it for what it's worth and, if you understand Chinese and can translate some of the video report, please pass it along) says management company IMG will hold a press conference on Friday in Li's hometown of Wuhan to make the announcement.
The report states that Li traveled to Germany, where she has based her operation in recent years because of proximity to the medical team that has kept her ailing right knee fit for play, on Sept. 2. The news was that not only is the right knee in poor shape, but the left knee is getting worse as well.
Another report on Thursday states Li may make a statement on social media Friday, with a briefing to be held on Sunday.
How to shake hands at the net, by Barbora Zahlavova Strycova (and other less-awesome tennis handshakes)Stephanie Myles at Busted Racquet6 days ago
The drive-by handshake is about as commonplace on the women's Tour as the bathroom break.
But Barbora Zahlavova Strycova, a 28-year-old from the Czech Republic who upset Li Na and Caroline Wozniacki on her way to the Wimbledon quarter-finals this summer, would have none of it from 20-year-old Elina Svitolina after their first-round match in Tokyo Monday.
The image seems to be a little faster than real time. But only a little. And the funniest thing was that Svitolina – who was the WINNER – hardly seemed the least bit fazed by it, just accepted it and carried on with her day – which means she might not have gotten the point.
Zahlavova Strycova has been a shining example for her peers of late. Look at these moments from Arthur Ashe Kids' Day on the weekend before the U.S. Open.
She was practicing on one of the field courts as the official festivities for the kids were wrapping up. But approached by one of the dads of these two adorable girls, she took the time move to an adjacent court to hit a few balls with them and pose for photos.
- Stephanie Myles at Busted Racquet6 days ago
In an era when professional players are away from the Tour for three weeks and bemoan their lack of match play, Nicole Vaidisova took to the court in Albuquerque, NM Tuesday afternoon after four and a half years away from the game ... and won in straight sets.
A year off a second shoulder surgery and a breakup with her husband, much-older ATP Tour player veteran Radek Stepanek, the 25-year-old Czech's comeback began against a contemporary and fellow former prodigy, Sesil Karatantcheva of Kazakhstan.
She won, 6-3, 6-4, advancing to the second round of the ColemanVision Tennis Championships, a $75,000 ITF pro circuit event that's a couple of levels below the WTA Tour, but still boasts a high calibre of play.
- Stephanie Myles at Busted Racquet7 days ago
Nicole Vaidisova is still just 25 years old, and was once ranked No. 7 in the world.
But she's been out of the game nearly five years.
To put the Czech native's talent in perspective, she is three months older, and a contemporary of, Victoria Azarenka. When she was playing regularly back in 2007, she defeated Azarenka (who would become a world No. 1 and a Grand Slam champion) twice in straight sets.
When she was 17-18, she defeated Amélie Mauresmo of France three times – twice at Grand Slams, twice when Mauresmo was the No. 1 player in the world. She holds a 6-3 head-to-head against Jelena Jankovic. She was winning matches at the ITF 18-and-under junior level when she was 12 years old, and WTA tournaments when she was 15 years old.
She was a French Open and Australian Open semifinalist. She has six career WTA Tour titles.
And then, she was done.
Now, after a few hints that she was thinking about making a comeback, she's back.
Vaidisova was given a wild card card into this week's $75,000 ITF/USTA event in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
- Stephanie Myles at Busted Racquet8 days ago
The first thing Mirjana Lucic-Baroni did upon defeating Venus Williams 6-4, 6-3 in the Coupe Banque Nationale final was to whip out her cellphone and call her husband.
"I can't get a signal!" she laughed.
To win a tournament for the first time in 16 years, as the 32-year-old Croat now based in Florida did on Sunday in Quebec City, is an exercise in perseverance, patience and above all, stubbornness. As an added bonus, she and partner Lucie Hradecka of the Czech Republic returned to the court a short time later and won the doubles title.
We did it!!!C'mon!!thank you Mirjana for a great tournament!You are star in Quebec!Quebec is yours!! pic.twitter.com/xpmFgnz90V
At 16 years and four months, it was the longest gap between tournament wins in WTA Tour history. The previous record of 13 years and one month, by Kimiko Date-Krumm, came on both ends of a 12-year retirement from the tour; this was a completely different story.
- Stephanie Myles at Busted Racquet10 days ago
Let's start with the good news.
The U.S. Davis Cup team took a big step towards staying in the 16-country World Group for 2015 by winning its first two singles matches in a playoff tie Friday against Slovakia in Chicago.
Well, not actually in Chicago. In a suburb called Hoffman Estates, Illinois.
They played at the Sears Centre (do they really spell it that way?), 25 miles northwest of Chicago. It takes about 45 minutes when there's no traffic. When there's traffic – say, later on a Friday afternoon as people head out for the weekend, with a Davis Cup tie starting at 4 p.m., it's more like an hour and a half.
So the stands were pretty deserted at the start, when U.S. No. 1 John Isner took on the immortal Norbert Gombos in the first singles rubber. No problem; Isner won 7-6 (5), 6-4, 6-2.
You would have hoped that the stands would fill up a bit for the second match, as people finally arrived. And it did get a little better. But not much better.