| Sunday, January 23, 2000, updated at 10:45(GMT+8)
Sports China Yi Jingqian Reaches Career High at Australian Open
The third round means nothing special for such big guns as Martina Hingis or Venus Williams but a lot for the diminutive Chinese Yi Jingqian, who reached a career high on Wednesday after she disposed of Julie Pullin of Britain 6-3, 2-6, 9-7 to make the third round of the prestigious Australian Open tennis tournament.
Yi, who entered the tournament with a wildcard for her current 141st world ranking, opened her campaign with a hard-won triumph over Laurence Courtois of Belgium 7-6 (7-5), 6-2 on Monday.
"I had made up my mind to improve my performance at this tournament which I failed at the first round for three times. My aim this year is just to win ranking points as possible as I couldand make preparation for the upcoming Olympics," Yi said.
The Asian wildcard was introduced in 1997, offering a main drawberth for one man and one woman outside the entry cut-off but within the top 200. Japanese Gouichi Motomura is the other recipient for the first grand slam event of the new century.
What excites Yi, however, is not only the points she won but also the growing pain behind her progress in the grand slam event.
Yi has been put to the test of the grueling international competition after the Chinese Tennis Association (CTA) made a bold decision to join the elite women players into the WTA Tour for more ranking points and international experience.
The crowded Tour agenda turned out to be an unpleasant thing for the professional newcomer.
"To play as a professional means you have to play throughout the year. You have little time to rest or enjoy yourself. There isa tour competition every week.
"So I can only feel happy by winning matches. Only when I won, I feel the tour is worthwhile, but if I was suffering a losing skid, it is easy to imagine how I would feel," said Yi. "I feel the life is indeed hard and dull."
But what makes difference is the more monotonous life is, the more determined Yi becomes.
"I have been hard to beat and like to challenge impossible since the childhood. I think it is very important to be a tough guy. I never gave up whoever I plays with."
"To fight is the only way to win," noted Yi.
Her commitment to tennis has won thumbs-up from her personal coach Jeff King.
"I believe Yi is somebody who possess natural ability and strong determination," said King who began to coach Yi in the summer of 1999 under the invitation of the CTA.
"I have a good understanding of Chinese tennis through working with the Chinese national tennis team and coaching Ms. Li Fang for almost two years where she achieved a world ranking of 36."
Li, who currently ranks 86th in the world, is another Chinese player competing in the professional circuit and made the last 32 of the Australian Open in 1992. She skipped the Australian Open for leg injury.
As for the performance in the tournament, King felt proud of her Chinese charge.
"I am proud of the way Yi has played in her first two matches. The two opponents she has beaten, she previously has lost to them. She has followed a sound game plan, adapted well to the court conditions and climate and raised the quality level of her game at crucial stages of the match to win key points." (Xinhua)Printer-friendly Version In This Section
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