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Inspired by Li Na, young tennis ace aims to strike own path

Updated: 2014-09-30 20:23
By Sun Xiaochen (chinadaily.com.cn)

China's last standing junior tennis ace in the Asian games says that she's inspired by Li Na's success but is determined to take her own path regardless of the expectations for her to become the next Li Na.

Wang Qiang, the last of China "young flowers" of women's singles tennis of the Asian Games, won the singles finals, 6-3, 7-6 (5), against Luksika Kumkhum of Thailand on Tuesday. Wang's win made up for the female team's loss in the tournament.

Wang's win brought team China its first gold medal won at the Incheon Asiad and her first career title at the continental sporting meet. It was also the third consecutive time that China clinched the women's singles title at the Asiad after veteran Zheng Jie and Peng Shuai did it in 2006 and 2010 respectively.

Wang, who manages her own career with her father outside China's State-run system as a "solo flying" player, hailed Li's groundbreaking professional career as an inspiration for her.

"No one could replace Li (for her contribution to Chinese tennis)," the 22 year-old Wang said at a press conference after the Asiad final.

"Li's retirement was a big loss for Chinese and Asian tennis as a whole. We all hope she could have played longer and feel so sorry that she had to quit for injury."

Li, who attended an on-court ceremony celebrating her achievements held by the Women's Tennis Association and China Open at the National Tennis Center on Tuesday evening, was one of the first group of senior players allowed by the Chinese Tennis Association in 2008 to manage their own careers with their own personal crews. They were allowed to arrange their professional tour schedules on their own.

The "flying-alone" approach outside the State-system's support and control set an example for up-and-coming talents like Wang, who aims to climb to the top of the professional rankings.

Wang, who iscurrently the world's No 108 player on WTA singles rankings, said she won't focus on becoming the next Li Na for China, instead she says she will stay committed to developing in her own way.

"Everyone is different from another. Li's success as an individual is inspiring but I am a different player compared to her," said Wang. "I am not there (at high rankings) yet and I play a different style of tennis. So I won't give myself too much pressure to catch up with her or anybody else, I should just focus on improving my game."

Having achieved career breakthroughs like reaching the second-round at the singles main draw of the US Open last month, Wang said she will try to fulfill her goal of cracking the top 100 in the world this season.

"It's my first Asian Games and I managed to win the gold. This is a great motivation for me to improve my rankings on the pro tour and I think I still have chance to reach the top 100 by the end of this year," said the Tianjin native.

Wang will play the WTA Tianjin Open as her next tournament.

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