Tennis: Kvitova returns to Shenzhen; Radwanska, Bouchard debut
- Updated: November 26, 2015
November 26, 2015: Two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova and debutants Agnieszka Radwanska and Eugenie Bouchard will spearhead the field at the WTA’s season-opening Shenzhen Open, which will be held at Longgang Sports Center from January 2-9, 2016.
Li Na, who won the first editions of the Shenzhen Open in 2013 and 2014, will be present again as the retired Chinese legend hosts the first Li Na Kids Day for young tennis players from greater Shenzhen.
Kvitova, 25, is competing at the US$500,000 event for a second successive year, having lost to Timea Bacsinszky in the semis on her debut this January. Currently World No. 6, the left-handed six-footer won three WTA titles this year – Sydney, Madrid and New Haven – and recently helped the Czech Republic win the Fed Cup for a second year.
“I am very happy to be coming back to Shenzhen,” said Kvitova, who has won 17 career titles. “Last year I had a very nice time, everyone was very kind and it was also very nice to see my good friend Li Na when I was there. I look forward to playing there again, to seeing Li Na again and I hope I can win the tournament this time.”
Like Kvitova, Radwanska finished her 2015 season in fine form. The World No. 5 was a semi-finalist at Wimbledon and then had a superb fourth quarter, reaching the China Open semis, winning the Tianjin Open and then beating Kvitova to win the WTA Finals Singapore, the biggest title of her career.
Bouchard will also be a high-profile draw, as the 2014 Wimbledon finalist marks her return to tennis after withdrawing from the US Open with a head injury. The Canadian reached World No. 5 last year, when she also reached the semis of two other Grand Slams.
Ke Gangming, Deputy Director General of Shenzhen Municipal Bureau of Culture, Sport and Tourism, said: “The announcement of Agnieszka Radwanska, Petra Kvitova and Genie Bouchard as our first drawcards makes us very excited about the growth and development of the fourth addition of the Shenzhen Open.
“On behalf of Shenzhen, Longgang, our sponsors, fans and the tournament team, we are most touched by the support that Li Na has afforded us. We are truly honoured that she has selected Shenzhen to launch and host her first ever Li Na Kids Day at the Shenzhen Open 2016.”
Li, who retired last year, conceived the Kids Day after being inspired by the Arthur Ashe Kids Day at the US Open. Designed to highlight the next generation of tennis-playing youngsters in schools around Shenzhen, the programme will initially be open to 40 youngsters. The lucky boys and girls will be able to enjoy a special one-hour tennis clinic conducted by Li and WTA players, a question-and-answer session and a ‘selfie’.
“Having been part of Arthur Ashe Kids day in New York, I have always wanted to start something similar in China – even more so now that I am a mother – so I’m excited to launch this at one of my favourite tournaments, the Shenzhen Open,” Li said.
“Let’s see how we can build and develop the Li Na Kids Day over the years. Even if we help one child win a tough match or inspire one child to play more, we will have succeeded. Anything above that will be a bonus.”
The Shenzhen Open is organised by the Chinese Tennis Association, Shenzhen Municipal Bureau of Culture, Sport and Tourism, and CCTV-IMG Sports Management Company.
The event is co-organised by the Bureau of Culture, Sport and Tourism of Longgang District, Shenzhen, Hong Gemdale Tennis Club and Kaisa Culture Group, while sponsors include Gemdale Group, Kaisa Group, Crowne Plaza Shenzhen Longgang City Center, Erke, Dunlop and Mercedes Benz. Ticket prices range from RMB40-350.
Source: Shenzhen Open (www.shenzhenopentennis.com); Editing by SportAsia