Li proves Asians no longer 'wannabes' - ATF
Chinese Li Na's trail-blazing French Open triumph has torn down a psychological barrier for Asian players, the Asian Tennis Federation chief told Reuters on Sunday.india Updated: Jun 05, 2011 22:03 IST
Chinese Li Na's trail-blazing French Open triumph has torn down a psychological barrier for Asian players, the Asian Tennis Federation chief told Reuters on Sunday.
Sixth seeded Li beat last year's champion Francesca Schiavone of Italy 6-4 7-6 in Saturday's final at Rolland Garros to become the first Asian to win a singles grand slam title.
ATF President Anil Khanna, speaking from Paris, predicted a wider impact of Li's path-breaking victory.
"It is a great moment and I would say a historic day in Asian tennis," he said.
"The whole continent was looking forward to this moment. It proves Asia is now as important as any other region in tennis.
"It absolutely destroys that psychological barrier. More and more Asian players would now aspire for such glory.
"It will be a great boost to the Asian players. Tennis will pick up in other Asian countries and I expect larger Asian participation in global events.
Khanna said Li's feat also boosted the region's dreams of hosting a "fifth grand slam" in the region.
"The momentum has to continue and we are in touch with ITF (International Tennis Federation) to make sure that happens," he said.
"It strengthens Asia's case to have a grand slam-like tournament.
"I would say her victory indicates tennis is gradually shifting towards Asia.
"Women players of the region have been doing well for quite a while and now the men's tennis would follow suit.
"We should have bigger events, a grand slam-like tournament. Asia is tennis' new destination," added Khanna.