The National Bank Open, formerly Rogers Cup

Damien’s Spin: Chinese tennis legend hits big screen

April 24, 2019

A feature-length movie on former Grand Slam champion Li Na based on her 2013 autobiography “My Life” is expected to be released later this year or in early 2020.

Li will be played by a Chinese actress whose name has not been released, while the film also stars Dominika Cibulkova, who lost to Li in 2014 French Open final. Li, now 37 with two children, wrote in her book about her clashes with the Chinese state-sponsored sports system, overcoming knee surgeries and her two Grand Slam wins.

“The message of the movie is to try to tell everyone that we are all ordinary people, and that everyone of us has our own dreams,” said Li. “It would be great if girls and young women would be inspired after watching the movie.”

The Aussies are back.

Australia defeated Belarus in a Fed Cup semifinal last week to return to that competition’s final for the first time since 1993.

Ashleigh Barty and Sam Stosur defeated Victoria Azarenka and Aryna Sabalenka in doubles to clinch the Australian win in Brisbane. Barty, the star of the weekend for the Aussies, had beaten both Azarenka and Sabalenka in singles. Stosur lost both her singles matches.

Australia will host the final against France, which denied Romania its first ever trip to the Fed Cup final, also in the deciding doubles match. The 2016 French Open doubles championship team of Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic reunited to come from behind and defeat Simona Halep and Monica Niculescu 5-7, 6-3, 6-4 in Rouen, France.

France last won the Fed Cup in 2003. Australia hasn’t won since 1974. The final will be played Nov. 9-10.

The Australia-France final is expected to be the last under the current Fed Cup format, which is expected to see significant changes for 2020 similar to what has happened with Davis Cup.

One of the countries that will be watching carefully to see how this all shakes out is Great Britain, which last weekend made it back to the World Cup for the first time in 26 years, defeating Kazakhstan in a thrilling playoff playing in London.

The Brits had previously lost at the World Group playoff stage four times.

Part of the delay in announcing a new Fed Cup format could be the ITF waiting to see how the new Davis Cup format works this fall in Madrid. There are concerns about losing the home ties, both of which created special atmospheres in Brisbane, London and Rouen last weekend.

Possible Return?

Speaking of British players, Laura Robson continues to plot her comeback after hip surgery and a variety of other injuries.

Now 25 and ranked 828th in the world, Robson has a long way to get back to where she was in 2012 and 2013 when she soared as high as No. 27. She won the silver medal in women’s singles at the 2012 London Olympics.

Robson was part of the BT Sport commentary team for last weekend’s Great Britain-Kazakhstan tie and said she hopes to someday be part of the British team again.

“I desperately want to be back on the Fed Cup team rather than in the commentary box,” she said.

Robson last significant event was the 2017 U.S. Open. She underwent hip surgery last July.

Injuries continued to play a central role in both the men’s and women’s tours as April came to a close. This time, it was 32-year-old Maria Sharapova, who pulled out of both Stuttgart and Madrid. Sharapova had shoulder surgery in February and hasn’t played since St. Petersburg in January.

“I am making very good progress but just not ready to compete at the highest level,” said Sharapova.

Halep, meanwhile, also pulled out of Stuttgart after suffering a hip injury last weekend in Romania’s Fed Cup loss.

(Feature photo: US TODAY)