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MELBOURNE, Australia - With Li Na in retirement and not defending her title at the Australian Open, there are far fewer Chinese flags and fans with red-and-yellow-streaked faces in the stands at Melbourne Park. Cheap Jordan Wholesale Shoes .So much so that when Peng Shuai, now Chinas top-ranked tennis player, was beating Magdalena Rybarikova in a second-round match, there was just one fan shouting encouragement in Mandarin with a solitary Chinese flag.Contrast that scene with a stadium in the Australian capital on Sunday where thousands of red-shirt wearing Chinese supporters cheered on Chinas soccer team as it defeated North Korea in a group match at the Asian Cup.With Li transitioning from tennis star to soon-to-be-mother, her departure from the sport raises an interesting question in China: Can tennis keep its nascent fan base and continue to grow in the country without its global superstar?Its literally the billion-dollar question. Ultimately, no one knows, said Richard Heaselgrave, the commercial director for Tennis Australia, which has a considerable stake in the answer as host of the Australian Open, the self-described Grand Slam of Asia-Pacific.Theres no doubting that tennis popularity has grown immensely in China due to Lis success. According to the WTA, a Chinese television audience of 116 million watched Li become the first Asian player to win a major at the French Open in 2011.Adding the Australian Open title last year cemented her status as one of Chinas top celebrities — she now has more than 23 million followers on Sina weibo, Chinas Twitter equivalent, more than almost all other athletes.Sensing a golden opportunity, the WTA jumped on Lis success to expand aggressively in Asia, with a record seven tournaments in China this year, second only to the U.S.Now that Chinas biggest star is no longer playing, though, some believe this rapid growth may have been premature.Zhang Bendou, the tennis writer for Titan Sports, the largest sports newspaper in China, said the crowds were visibly thinner at the Shenzhen Open tournament earlier this month without Li there to defend her title from the year before.Its embarrassing to see the pictures, he said. If the tournaments cannot attract enough sponsors and spectators and media interest, (China) will lose them eventually. I think they are in danger, some of them.Part of the problem is that because tennis is relatively new to the country, Chinese fans typically only pay attention to the big-name stars and local players, Zhang said.This partly explains why the mens tennis tour has been more cautious to expand in China — there are no bankable Chinese mens players yet. Only one made the main draw at the Australian Open — Zhang Ze, who lost in the first round to 33-year-old Australian veteran Lleyton Hewitt.Heaselgrave is optimistic the Australian Open will retain its Chinese fan base. To help ensure this, Tennis Australia has signed LI to a three-year contract to act as the tournaments unofficial ambassador in China and recently signed a new contract with China Central Television to produce bespoke TV and digital content from the tournament for Chinese consumers.Theres talk of opening Tennis Australia training centres for casual and club-level players in Shanghai and Beijing, as well.Were absolutely nowhere near being the Grand Slam of Asia-Pacific that we want to be, but weve made a big start, Heaselgrave said.The Chinese Tennis Association, meanwhile, is busy trying to find the next homegrown star.There are now 11 female players ranked in the top 200, led by Peng Shuai, the recent U.S. Open semifinalist, at No. 22. But the one Chinese Fed Cup captain Peng Wang is most excited about is 17-year-old Xu Shilin, the No. 2 girl in the junior rankings, who goes by the English name Coco. The top seed in the girls draw at the Australian Open, she has the potential to be the next Li Na, Peng said.Everyone I think in China has confidence now, the coaches, the players, he said. So they work hard, more than before. Cheap Jordan Free Shipping . Coming off a 6-0 drubbing at Chelsea on Saturday, Arsenal endured another demoralizing result after rallying for a 2-1 lead -- only to concede a fluke equalizer. Cheap Authentic Jordan Shoes . The San Angelo, Texas product, who was a high school and college quarterback sensation in the Lone Star State, will start his first CFL game with the Saskatchewan Roughriders (9-4) on Friday at Mosaic Stadium against the leagues top team, the Calgary Stampeders (11-2). http://www.cheapjordanfreeshipping.com/ .C. -- Carter Ashton had a pair of goals and added an assist as the Toronto Marlies downed the Charlotte Checkers 5-2 on Saturday in the American Hockey League.PORTLAND, OREGON – Uruguayan midfielder Sebastian Fernandez scored his first goal of the preseason as Vancouver Whitecaps FC and Portland Timbers played to a hard-fought 1-1 draw Saturday at Providence Park. After the host Timbers opened the scoring in the third minute, Fernandez smashed home a late second-half penalty to salvage Whitecaps FCs undefeated record at the Rose City Invitational. The Caps finish the tournament as the top team with a 2W-0L-1D record and enter next weekends season opener undefeated in four preseason matches. Vancouvers squad on Saturday looked similar to the one that defeated Portmore United 5-1 last weekend, though there were a few changes. Right back Ethen Sampson and striker Kenny Miller came in to replace Steven Beitashour and Darren Mattocks, who are both away on international duty. Midfielder Gershon Koffie also drew into the starting lineup, which moved Russell Teibert up to the right wing. And goalkeeper David Ousted made his first appearance of the tournament. Saturdays contest got off to a physical start at Providence Park, which is often the norm in meetings between these Cascadia rivals. In fact, there were a total of 16 fouls committed in the first half alone. Unfortunately for the Blue and White, however, an early foul led to Portlands first goal of the match – a Will Johnson free kick from 25 yards in the third minute. The Caps nearly equalized a few minutes later when Fernandez let loose a curling strike from distance, but Timbers goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts tipped it just over the goal. Aside from the early marker, there wasnt much between Vancouver and Portland in the opening 45 minutes. The host Timbers came oon in spurts, but the Caps back line anchored by Jay DeMerit and Andy OBrien kept them at bay. Cheap Jordans Free Shipping. For Whitecaps FC, Uruguayan midfielder Nicolas Mezquida looked particularly dangerous. The 22-year-old showed great vision on a throughball to Miller in the 18th minute and some nifty footwork in midfield a few minutes later. The Caps couldnt connect in the final third, however, and it just about cost them . Portland had a great chance to double their lead in the 35th minute, as Maximilano Urruti slipped behind the Caps defence only to float his ensuing effort over the crossbar. They came close again just after the break, when Darlington Nagbe found some space in the middle of the park before letting loose a heavy strike from 20 yards that went just wide. At the other end of the park, Whitecaps FC showed some attacking flair again in the second half. And they received a boost just after the hour-mark, when local lad Erik Hurtado and Argentine midfielder came Matias Laba into the match – followed shortly by winger/striker Kekuta Manneh. And the trio combined to set up Vancouvers equalizer in the 79th minute. After a receiving a pass from Laba in midfield, Hurtado took a touch and released Manneh into the box before the Gambian was hauled down by Timbers defender Jack Jewsbury. Then Fernandez smashed home the ensuing penalty kick to level the score at 1-1. Manneh had a pair of half-chances in the dying stages of the match, but in the end the Cascadia rivals battled to a hard-fought 1-1 draw – just as they did in each of their three regular season meetings in 2013. With the draw, Whitecaps FC conclude the preseason with 4W-2L-1D record. Wholesale Hoodies NFL Shirts Outlet Jerseys NFL Wholesale Cheap NFL Jerseys Free Shipping Wholesale Jerseys Cheap Cheap NFL Jerseys China Wholesale Jerseys Wholesale NFL Jerseys Cheap NFL Jerseys China Cheap NFL Jerseys ' ' '
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