SHENZHEN, CHINA: China’s top ranked Li Na said she is ready for her post-tennis career on “Dancing with the Stars” after her crushing 62 63 victory over Uzbekistan’s Nigina Abduraimova in Pool A competition of the Fed Cup by BNP Paribas Asia/Oceania Zone Group I event on Friday.
“I think I would like to try ballroom dancing after I’m done playing tennis,” said a beaming Li, the world’s No. 9 ranked player, who barely broke a sweat in her dominating one hour win over the 381st ranked Abduraimova.
Li, who began her athletic career at the tender age of seven on the Beijing badminton courts, sashayed confidently across centre court today like a seasoned ballerina, fully in control of the outcome.
During the post-match press conference, and with a beaming smile, Li said if “Dancing with the Stars” were to call, she would, “definitely want to give it a try”. She added that the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou featured ballroom dancing as a medal sport, “so you never know, I might have a chance at winning another medal”.
Cruising down the highway
China was on cruise control at centre court in the early morning outing with 23-year-old Zhang Shuai beating Uzbekistan’s Sabina Sharipova 67(5) 62 61. Although leading 3-0 in the third set, during the break Zhang was smothered from head to toe in warm towels to ward off the brisk icy temperatures that have enveloped the Luhou Tennis Club through this 2012 Fed Cup event.
“Yes, the cold is really becoming a factor here,” said Zhang, adding that China’s coaching staff, led by captain Ling Lu, have been, what Zhang calls, a “grueling” pre-match warm-up experience.
“With the London Olympics so close, no one on our team wants to take a chance with pulling a muscle, or worse, that would prevent us from competition in the Games,” commented Zhang.
China’s duo of Peng Shuai and Zheng Jie also combined for a 63 64 doubles thrashing of Uzbekistan’s Akgul Amamuradova and Iroda Tulyaganova to stay unbeaten into tomorrow’s finals.
Looking to close out competition and stave off a possible upset today in Pool B, Kazakhstan powered their way into the finals with Yaroslava Shvedova heralding the charge with a 63 76(6) thumping of surging Noppawan Lertcheewakarn of Thailand.
Kazakhstan’s giant killer, Galina Voskoboeva, then presented a withering attack in her 90 minute 63 63 victory over Thailand’s Tamarine Tanasugarn.
Ever the tactician, the cunning Kazakhstan captain Igor Shaldunov purposely kept his own superstar, world No. 46 Voskoboeva, idle in doubles competition. Asked of his strategy in keeping his prize player off the court and “saved” for Saturday’s finals, the crafty Shaldunov simply smiled.
Sessil Karatancheva and Shvedova went on to lose the dead doubles rubber 64 36 64 to Nungnadda Wannasuk and Varatchaya Wongteanchai, but the Kazakhs already had one eye on the promotion play-off against China.
Also in Group II competition, Korea, Rep. scored a 2-1 win over Indonesia, splitting their singles matches with the Korea duo of Sung Hee Han and Mi Yoo defeating Indonesia’s Ayu Fani Damayanti and Jessy Rompies 67(3) 63 64.
Who will prevail?
The question now looms what team will come to centre court for tomorrow’s finals. Will it be the overwhelming power of Kazakhstan with a rested Galina Voskoboeva that finished top of Pool B, or China, winners of Pool A, who will enjoy full home centre court advantage.
Also on Saturday, Chinese Taipei will face Thailand in a third/fourth play-off, while Uzbekistan meet Indonesia in a battle to avoid relegation.
Click the link below for more information about Asia/Oceania Zone Group I, including individual results from each tie.
- Asia/Oceania Zone Group I
Shuai Zhang (CHN) - 03/02/2012
Yaroslava Shvedova (KAZ) - 03/02/2012
Sessil Karatancheva (KAZ) - 03/02/2012