'Li is not mentally tough enough to tackle situations'
China's tennis chief has blamed Li Na's failure to build on her stunning 2011 French Open victory on a lack of mental strength following her rigid state-organised training.sports Updated: Sep 05, 2012 00:31 IST
China's tennis chief has blamed Li Na's failure to build on her stunning 2011 French Open victory on a lack of mental strength following her rigid state-organised training.
Sun Jinfang said the world No 8, who lost to British teen Laura Robson in the third round on Friday, was prone to breaking down on court, blaming this on the fact she had focused purely on sport from an early age.
"We have seen for a long time that Li Na can suddenly collapse. Why is this? Because athletes like her have not received a good education," Sun said. "Li Na has made the choice to concentrate on tennis from a very early age, but a very important piece of her education has been missing.
"She has not developed enough mentally. There are lots of things that she cannot work out for herself. She knows when she is on the verge of a (mental) collapse... but she does not know how to react to this situation."
China's high-pressure state sports school system, which sees children undergoing rigorous training for up to seven hours a day, has been criticized for not providing a rounded education.
Li opted out of the national sports system in 2008 under a scheme that allows tennis players to set up their own training team and keep most of their winnings.
After her decision to break away, Li became the first Chinese player to win a Grand Slam singles title last year. But her defeat to Robson was the first time since 2008 that she had not reached at least the quarters at any Grand Slam.