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Australian Open champ Li Na, coach part ways

Updated: 2014-07-04 09:17 (Agencies)

Australian Open champ Li Na, coach part ways

Chinese tennis star Li Na, listens to her coach Carlos Rodriguez at a training session in Beijing, China, February 26, 2014. [Photo/IC]

Carlos Rodriguez has split with his top student, Li Na, China's two-time Grand Slam winner, to fully focus on his tennis academy in Beijing, his business partner confirmed on Thursday.

"Yes, he made the decision before Wimbledon but he didn't tell her because he was afraid it would affect her preparation," Ding Ding, president of Potter's Wheel International Tennis Center, the academy where Rodriguez works in Beijing, was quoted as saying on Thursday on tencent.com.

After Li's disappointing third-round elimination from the Wimbledon Championships, a report on a Belgium media outlet, Sudinfo, first revealed that Rodriguez would quit his job as Li's full-time coach to concentrate on his role as head coach and shareholder at the academy.

The news created a heated buzz on Chinese social media, where public opinion about the end of their cooperation was divided.

"I hope it's not real. Li has improved a lot under Rodriguez's guidance and no one could be a better choice for Li than Carlos. I don't want to see them drift apart," a micro-blogger nicknamed Qiaxunianshao wrote on Thursday.

Another micro-blogger, Andy86, said that "It's normal for professional tennis players to change coach after a period of time. It's been already a long enough cooperation for Li and Rodriguez".

Some of the fans attributed the breakup to Li's recent lackluster performance at Wimbledon and Roland Garros, where she crashed in the first round.

Rodriguez told Chinese media that he was unhappy that Li couldn't stay focused on the court at Roland Garros. He urged her to regain it.

The encouragement didn't work at Wimbledon, as Li was upset by Czech world No 43 Barbora Strycova in the third round.

Ding said Rodriguez's decision was not about Li's inconsistent performance but his growing sense of responsibility for guiding the academy's operations.

"He's a do-it-yourself guy who put a lot of effort on coaching youngsters at the academy in the off-season of Li. But he really struggles to find a balance between coaching Li and taking care of the academy. He already felt short-handed so he made the hard decision," Ding said.

Rodriguez was hired by Li in July 2012. He helped the 32-year-old world No 2 claim her second Grand Slam title at the Australian Open earlier this year.

Invited by Ding, Rodriguez renewed his partnership with Potter's Wheel in April 2011 to become the head coach and a shareholder.

Australian Open champ Li Na, coach part ways

Australian Open champ Li Na, coach part ways

Australian Open champ Li Na, coach part ways

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