Zheng Jie and Li Na from China have made history at the Australian Open as it is the first time China has had two players make the fourth round of a major tennis tournament.
This success has given the tennis program in China a major boost and don’t be surprised if we see an influx of talent as we saw with Sweden following the success of Bjorn Borg in the men’s game.
Interestingly the upsurge for Chinese tennis really gained momentum when Li Ting and Tian Tian won Olympic Gold in 2004. Zheng then won two Grand Slam doubles tournaments, one being the 2006 Australian Open with Yan Zi.
Zheng Jie has recently been granted the freedom to plan her own career after having it controlled by the Chinese National Programme, and that change appears to have paid dividends as she becomes the first Chinese player to reach the semi finals at the Australian open. She also reached the semi final at Wimbledon in 2008.
Unluckily for China the men have made little progress on the world stage, so this really is one up for the ladies.