© Ella Ling

Li Na

Olympics: Li Na counters the criticism


Five thoughts after day three of the Olympic tennis tournament:

Li Na isn’t allowed to lose tennis matches. She knows that. So Li, the only Chinese to ever win a grand slam singles title, would have known what the over-the-top reaction would have been after her opening-round defeat to Daniela Hantuchova at the Olympic tennis tournament (“don’t think the Olympics is only important for the Chinese people, otherwise we call this the China Open, not the Olympics”). There was the usual one-two punch of criticism.

She lost because she’s too rich, because her motivation has been softened by millions of endorsement dollars. She lost because of her husband, because she’s coached by her spouse and doesn’t have a more professional set-up. Well, she went some way to fending off attacks about her coaching set-up with today’s announcement that she is going to be working with Carlos Rodriguez on a trial basis until the end of the year. It’s to be hoped that Rodriguez can help Li to have an impact at the US Open. 

Forget the coloured clothing for a moment, and consider the effort that went into Laura Robson’s Union Jack manicure.

The shorter men’s matches – with the exception of the final, they are best-of-three sets – means that you can expect to see more Hollywood names on the same court on the same day. The Centre Court programme for Tuesday includes Venus Williams, Andy Roddick, Novak Djokovic, Laura Robson, Maria Sharapova and Andy Murray.

So this time Roger Federer annihilated Julien Benneteau on Centre Court for the loss of just four games. Right from the start, Federer was on alert against Benneteau. That was always likely to be the case after events during The Wimbledon Championships when Benneteau scared the heebie-jeebies out of Federer by winning the first two sets of their third-round encounter. 

– It was a fine day for the young British women with both Laura Robson and Heather Watson reaching the second round.