WTA Tour

Li Na's future 'up in the air'

2014-08-15 10:38
Li Na (AFP)

Singapore - Li Na's Grand Slam future is "up in the air" after an injury-hit season and the loss of her inspirational coach, tennis great Martina Navratilova said on Friday.

The 18-time Grand Slam champion said Li's ability to withstand injuries was the critical question as she approaches her 33rd birthday in February.

China's Li won the Australian Open in January but her season has nose-dived and along with splitting with coach Carlos Rodriguez, she has also been sidelined by a knee injury.

"The body is the biggest issue for her, clearly, now," Navratilova said in an interview, when asked whether Li was capable of winning a third Grand Slam title.

"She had some motivation issues a year ago after Wimbledon but then she had a good talk with Carlos and then wins the Australian Open the following year.

"So she's had a great year, she won a Slam which is amazing. But now she may not play the rest of the year, so it's up in the air for her.

"Game-wise, does she have a Slam? Yes, but is the body going to cooperate?"

Navratilova was speaking during a promotional visit ahead of her WTA Legends appearance in Singapore in October, which will run alongside the season-ending WTA Championships.

Her comments underline the questions facing Li, who will miss the US Open and may not return until the inaugural Wuhan Open in her home city next month.

Li, ranked third in the world, has had dips in her career before but Rodriguez, the former coach of Justine Henin, was key to her most recent revival.

Navratilova, who won the last of her Grand Slam singles titles at 33, knows only too well the physical challenges that are facing the Chinese star.

"It's a tricky thing. When you get older you need to curb your schedule and not play as much," she said.

"But when you play too little then you're not match-tough, and then you start losing early and then you need to play more tournaments to get the matches.

"And then it really upsets your rhythm of getting ready, so it's tricky when you get older. You have to keep adapting."

Of Rodriguez's decision to stop coaching Li, Navratilova said "sometimes the relationship kind of runs its course".

But she said she was open to taking up a coaching role with a top player, following the example of Stefan Edberg, Ivan Lendl, Boris Becker and Amelie Mauresmo.

"I'd like to pass on the knowledge. There's no substitute for that one-on-one, getting into the nitty-gritty of the game," she said.

"And you can only really do that with a top player, when you're just searching for that little edge. That sliced backhand or the dropped volley that you may only use once or twice a match but may mean the difference between winning or losing.

"I love getting into those details of the sport. I'm sure it'll happen."

Read more on:    li na  |  tennis

What To Read Next


Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.
Live Video Streaming
Sport Talk


Which is your favourite Grand Slam of the year?

Love 2 Meet
English Premiership flutter

Take Sport24's "expert" tips at your peril...

Sport24 on Twitter

Follow Sport24 news on Twitter


The 2017/18 Absa Premiership season is under way. Can Bidvest Wits defend their title? Will Soweto giants Kaizer Chiefs or Orlando Pirates emerge victorious? Or will the bookies' favourites, Mamelodi Sundowns, taste success for a record eighth time? Stay glued to Sport24 to find out!

Latest blogs

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.