Chinese Tennis Star Happy for Danish Coach

Jiang, who married Li in January 2006, has coached her throughout her career but he has had to take a back seat since his wife turned to Danish coach Michael Mortensen in April after a troubling run of form.


Li explained that it was a reaction to a dismal run of five straight defeats sparked by her loss to Kim Clijsters at the Australian Open, in which she became the first Chinese player to reach a Grand Slam final.


“On court or off the court, we are there every day, like 24 hours together,” said Li, the world No 7, of her working relationship with Jiang.


“So we needed a break. And also, after Melbourne I didn’t do well. So I needed to change the team a little bit.


“That’s why I asked for Michael. He’s from Denmark. I asked him to help me, so now my husband is my hitting partner.”


Li and Mortensen agreed to work together for a trial period of three tournaments, culminating at Roland Garros, but she says she has already decided she would like to pursue their collaboration.


China’s Li Na joked that her stunning third-set comeback at the French Open on Monday was due to her husband and sometime coach leaving the arena – but said she could never bring herself to sack him.


Li, the sixth seed, became the first Chinese player to reach the Roland Garros quarterfinals by beating Czech ninth seed Petra Kvitova 2-6, 6-1, 6-3, despite falling 3-0 down in the deciding set.


It was at this moment that Li’s husband, Jiang Shan, chose to creep out of the Court Philippe Chatrier arena, and Li suggested his departure may have tipped the momentum in her favor.


“I don’t know what happened,” she said. “Maybe just my husband left and I can win six games in a row!”


Jiang, who married Li in January 2006, has coached her throughout her career but he has had to take a back seat since his wife turned to Danish coach Michael Mortensen in April after a troubling run of form.


Li explained that it was a reaction to a dismal run of five straight defeats sparked by her loss to Kim Clijsters at the Australian Open, in which she became the first Chinese player to reach a Grand Slam final.


“On court or off the court, we are there every day, like 24 hours together,” said Li, the world No 7, of her working relationship with Jiang.


“So we needed a break. And also, after Melbourne I didn’t do well. So I needed to change the team a little bit.


“That’s why I asked for Michael. He’s from Denmark. I asked him to help me, so now my husband is my hitting partner.”


Li and Mortensen agreed to work together for a trial period of three tournaments, culminating at Roland Garros, but she says she has already decided she would like to pursue their collaboration.


“I would like to keep working with him,” she said. “But after this tournament I will have to ask him if he has the time to come travelling with me, because he has a family. I can’t just say, ‘OK Michael, come with me.’


“There is no chance. We’ll have to communicate first and see how many weeks he can travel with me. We’ll talk after the French Open.”

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