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Li-led Chinese tennis contingent faces uphill task at London Olympics

By Wang Jimin (Xinhua)

09:23, July 09, 2012

BEIJING, July 9 (Xinhua) -- Superstar Li Na will be leading the Chinese charge at the All England Club in Wimbledon for the 2012 London Olympic tennis event which features the strongest ever field in history.
Led by the two world No.1s, Beijing Olympics bronze medalist Novak Djokovic of Serbia and Russia's Maria Sharapova, 19 of the current world's top 20 will contest both the men's and women's events, with the exceptions being American Mardy Fish and Frenchwoman Marion Bartoli.
But that will not be a problem for Sun Jinfang, head of the Chinese tennis governing body, who has overseen a series of breakthroughs in the last two Olympics.
"You never know what could happen in the Olympics," she said. "It's not like a regular tournament. We have four Grand Slams every year but the Olympics comes around once every four years so there's more pressure and there are eventualities.
"Of course it's very challenging given the singles entry, but I hope the players can bring us more surprises and make the country proud."
Four Chinese players have qualified for the Olympic tennis event, which runs from July 28 to August 5. Li, last year's French Open winner, will be joined by Zheng Jie and Peng Shuai in the women's singles draw. Peng and Zheng will also team up for the doubles, while Li will compete alongside Zhang Shuai.
It's a reduced participation compared to that of last Olympics in Beijing, but the players are much-improved.
The 30-year-old Li rocketed to fame when she captured the 2011 French Open title to become Asia's first Grand Slam singles champion.
Although Li has failed to win another trophy since the Paris breakthrough, the world No. 11 still proves to be a medal contender at Olympics.

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