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China tennis coach upbeat after being handed a hard draw
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13:55, August 08, 2008

Jiang Hongwei, head coach of the Chinese national tennis team, dismissed the idea of being handed a tough draw after the Chinese players were drawn to face strong opponents in the upcoming tennis event of the 2008 Olympics.

The draw which was conducted on Thursday will see China's top female player Zheng Jie face Hungary's eleventh seed Agnes Szavay, former top 20 player Li Na take on third seed Svetlana Kuznetsova and Zheng's long-time doubles partner Yan Zi against ninth seed Vera Zvonareva in the opening round of the women's singles.

"The result was not decided by the world rankings and when you compete on the court, many factors will contribute to the game, the result is unpredictable," Jiang told Xinhua through telephone on Friday.

The pair of Zheng/Yan was the only seeded player/team from China in the Olympic tennis event starting on Sunday, but they have also been given a hard draw in the women's doubles, with a potential quarterfinal clash against top seeds Kuznetsova and Safina and a semifinal against either Spain's fourth seeds Medina Garrigues/Ruano Pascual or American fifth seeds Lindsay Davenport/Liezel Huber.

"Zheng reached the women's singles last four at Wimbledon this year, but she will focus on women's doubles. The main problem might come from the hot weather which will take more out of player's tank in competition. I am just worried about her physical conditions (playing two events)."

In the best performance by a Chinese player at a grand slam to date, wildcard and 133rd ranked Zheng beat top seed Ana Ivanovic, 15th seed Szavay and 18th seed Nicole Vaidisova, bowing out to Serena Williams after a second set tiebreak in the semifinals.

The sensational run in particular boosted China's chances of landing tennis gold at the Games after a largely bleak 18-month run for China's leading women players. But the country need to be realistic in the women's singles where most of the top 20 players come to seek the Olympic glory.

Li, former world number 20, has been ranked as one of the Olympic hopes after her trailblazing work for China in tennis, but the 26-year-old was suffering injury woes since last year when she was sidelined for half a year. Coming back into the Tour early this year, Li again needed months to rest herself ahead of the Beijing Games.

"Li used to beat Kuznetsova, but it is hard to say about the result. She has just returned to the court, so I don't know whether she is able to play her game," Jiang said.


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