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October 6, 2010
THE INTERPRETER: Welcome all to the joint press conference of WTA National Sports Bureau of Tennis Center and 2010 China Open Organizing Committee. The guests are Stacey Allaster, chairman and CEO of Sony Ericsson WTA Tour; and Madame Sun Jin Fang, the chairman of CTA, China Tennis Association; and Mr. Zhang Ya Bin, the chairman of 2010 China Open Organizing Committee.
First of all, let's welcome Ms. Stacey Allaster for her speech.
STACEY ALLASTER: Ni hao.
For those of us from the West, we often refer to China as an emerging tennis market. Today I think we can confidently say that China is no longer an emerging tennis market. It has emerged.
This exponential growth is the result of a very focused strategic sports plan led by the Beijing municipal government and the great leadership of the WTA's partners.
Today I'm very proud to share the dais with the great Madame Sun, the chairman of the Chinese Tennis Association, and Chairman Ya Bin of the China Open. Together they have been my mixed doubles team to make tennis and China such a success.
Since I was here last year, Chinese tennis has propelled at such a fast rate. Peng Shuai becoming the first Chinese player to win the China Open in her cross-straits partnership with Hsieh Su-Wei.
Who can forget the incredible performances of Li Na and Zheng Jie at the 2010 Australian Open; Li Na becoming the first player in the history of China to reach the top 10, a very critical milestone; and China now joins great tennis nations like France, Australia, Belgium, having four players in the top 100.
If we transition from the success on the court to the China Open, I must say it's incredibly exciting to see the growth of this event. I walked the grounds yesterday, and it was nothing but energizing. The corporate support of global brands like Sony Ericsson and Mercedes, the new retractable 15,000 seat stadium that's being built looks incredible, and I can tell you from the moment I arrived I have only received compliments from the players about the strong operations and player services of the China Open, and I thank you and congratulate you, Chairman Ya Bin.
If I reflect from last year to this year on the WTA's success, we renewed Sony Ericsson as our lead global partner, and I can confirm our marketing focus in China was one of the primary reasons that Sony Ericsson decided to continue to invest in women's tennis. They are thrilled with what we're doing here in China, and they are extremely pleased to have one of our top four mandatory events right here in Beijing.
In this challenging economy, I've often said the world economy has shrunk. Women's tennis has actually gone forward. We have secured two new corporate partners in 2010 in addition to renewing Sony Ericsson, and I can say with a high degree of confidence by the time we end the year we will add two more corporate partners to the WTA's family.
Lastly, I will finish off with the work that my team is doing here in Beijing under the leadership of Fabrice Chouquet, one of tennis's great administrators, who has a fantastic background, technically comes from a Grand Slam nation, and he's doing great things working together with the CTA and China Open to build our fan base and excitement for the China Open year-round.
Having an office here in Beijing we believe is critically important for us to work with the CTA and the China Open to advance women's tennis. We have successfully had more than 260 fans experience the WTA's Tennis Festivals over the past few weeks. We were in Guangzhou, Beijing, and Chengdu, a new city that was added.
With this 40-week schedule that we have, my Chinese local team is very busy sharing content with Chinese social media sites, and I'm pleased to report that the WTA is No. 1. It's the No. 1 sports organization approaching almost 1 million social media fans following WTA tennis and our players here in China.
So together these grass-roots promotions, marketing on a year-round basis really are critical. They're the building blocks for a sustainable tennis strategy and to truly make the China Open a great success and for there to be more fans, more players, and more Chinese stars.
Lastly, I can share with you that Chairman Ya Bin has invited the worldwide tournament directors and the board of the WTA to the 2011 China Open. I'm pleased on their behalf to accept your kind invitation, and I'm incredibly excited for the international tennis family to come here to Beijing next year to see what has been accomplished, where Chinese tennis is headed, and of course for the international tennis family to experience the great city of Beijing.
Xie xie, Madame Sun and Chairman Ya Bin. I look forward to many years of great cooperation as we work together to grow Chinese tennis and the WTA.
SUN JIN FANG: (In Chinese.)
ZHANG YA BIN: (Through translation.) First of all, I'm very glad to sit with Stacey Allaster and Madame Sun to meet all of you here. I really thank Stacey Allaster for her compliment on our job, our work for China Open.
I want to show my thank you for all of you, dear media friends, because we know that you did a great job like covering all China Open matches, and I am looking forward to have the great partnership with you from now on.
Since China Open's debut in 2004 we have grown a lot, especially in 2009 the females match became the WTA crown jewel event, and since you all see that this year's WTA's event is a mandatory event, we have a lot of stars from around the world like Caroline Wozniacki, Maria Sharapova, Ana Ivanovic and Samantha Stosur, and China stars like Li Na.
As for the live attendance this year, we all have a very good result. Since the second day, October 2nd, which is the first main-draw day, we've sold out all the tickets, and we also are very glad to know that a lot of spectators bring in their family and friends to enjoy the outside court activity at China Open Festivals every day. China Open is becoming a family destination.
It has been hard work for promoting tennis etiquette since 2004, but we gladly -- we've noticed that the spectators' tennis etiquette has been improving a lot.
We have three updated techniques important in our service. First one is we have Hawk-Eye system both in Lotus Court and Moon Court. Second, we have the high-speed camera grabbing all the very detailed score for the audiences in front of TV. And No. 3, we have SIM cards in each ticket. These are all the three improved techniques in 2010 China Open.
A new change for 2011 China Open, we're going to have our brand-new retractable new venue which can hold 15,000 spectators, and this can also avoid all the bad weather conditions. And also, we'll have suites in the new venue which can meet all the standards of the professional tennis match.
There's a joke about our development in China Open, like we use only five or six years to develop, to enhance our tournament level while the other tournaments, maybe they use more than 40 or 50 years. So these are all the result of China's economy and our China Open and a close partnership with WTA Tour.
I would like to say our final goal of Beijing is we want to develop Beijing into a tennis capital in Asia, and we also want our tournament to become the fifth Grand Slam in the world. We know that we still have a space to improve, but we will still try all our effort to achieve these goals.
THE INTERPRETER: Questions, please?
Q. (In Chinese.)
ZHANG YA BIN: (In Chinese.)
SUN JIN FANG: (In Chinese.)
THE INTERPRETER: Let me summarize the two questions and answer.
The first question for Mr. Zhang Ya Bin is about the marketing of China Open. Mr. Zhang's answer is we have a revenue this year. We increased 20% compared to last year.
And the journalist asked we can see that on the backdrop we have a lot of sponsors' logos on it. It seems we've done a great job. China Open has done a great job in marketing. And Zhang Ya Bin said, Yes, we have a lot of local companies contacting us for sponsorship opportunities these years. These are all our great result since 2004, and we have much confidence to finally get more revenue in the future.
The second question for Madame Sun is about the players. As we know, we have great players in WTA Tour like Zheng Jie and Li Na, but we still have younger generations coming like Zhang Shuai and Sun Shengnan, but it seems the younger generation players are not as good as Li Na and Zheng Jie. This question is to let Madame Sun to comment on this.
Madame Sun said two points: One is the coach; the second is the players. For the coach, Madame Sun said in 2008 she is very satisfied with the coaches' work and performance. The coaches were very actively opened their mind to receive the international, like, coaching standards, coaching theories, but she's not very satisfied with the coaches now currently coaching in 2010.
She thought that they should be more open-minded to receive more updated international tennis coaching theories and skills.
And for players, she said she heard from a lot of younger players complaining about maybe weather, food, jet lag during their WTA or ITF tournaments. Madame Sun's opinion is these are all not excuses. If you're a professional player, you need to like live with it. This is your life.
If you want to have a dream to become a top player, you need to live with them and work it out. Because today's tennis is an aggressive, is an intense and consistent sport. You need to like ask yourself to play more aggressive, more intense, and more rallies in the court, to really work hard enough to achieve your dreams.
So these are the summaries.
SUN JIN FANG: (Through translation.) Please don't get me wrong: I'm not criticizing or blaming the players, so please be careful in your report.
I just want to say that for the younger players, Chinese players, where they're all like struggling and ranking like 100, but like other foreign players, before the younger players like 21 or 20, they're already in top 50. There must be like a problem here.
We have much expectation on those young players, and we give them good like finance, facilities, support, coaching, all the support, but it seems that their game is not consistent enough.
We have some surprise win between Chinese young players and very top star, but it's all like surprising game. We have some like good scores in one match, but their consistency, their rally, their aggressiveness is not good enough.
Q. (Through translation.) Regarding the brand-new retractable court venue next year, Mr. Zhang, can you give us some comment on next year's, prediction on next year's sponsors, like live attendance, spectators? Thanks. The second question is: Is there like an agreement on China Open's matches during Golden Week? Is there already an agreement for next year and upcoming years?
ZHANG YA BIN: (Through translation.) As for the brand-new retractable court venue next year, there is a challenge here. We still have undetermined time for the completion next year.
So as for the operating job for this new venue, we definitely will recruit more volunteers and staff to, like, get more familiar with the new venue, and we will try all our effort to kind of get familiar with all these positions and operating systems before the 2011 China Open.
So as for the question about the tournament time on Golden Week in China, as the organizer of China Open, we wish to have more spectators, more people coming to our matches, so arranging a tournament during the Golden Week is really a wish, but we also know that for WTA, they have quite busy schedule every year, so we will try all our effort to coordinate with them.
We hope that in the upcoming five years, we will have our tournament happening in Golden Week.
Q. My question is for Stacey. After upgrading to be the mandatory premier tournaments in WTA, fans in China are very eager to watch the best of the best, the world-class players to watch in China Open. But we have some major withdrawals this year, Justine and Serena because of their injuries, Kim, so it's kind of like they're not taking serious this tournament. Because, are you kidding me, Kim has to remove a mole in her foot? So how do you respond to this last-minute withdrawal? Is there any penalties for WTA for these top players to not coming to play the mandatory tournaments?
STACEY ALLASTER: Well, we share the disappointment that we don't have Serena, Kim and Venus here at the China Open, but with sport, no event is immune from injury.
Serena Williams did not play the US Open. She has not played since Wimbledon. She has been out with long-term injury, but it has nothing to do with the China Open. It has to do with an injury that she's been recovering from.
Venus is almost in the same position. She has not played an event other than the US Open. You all know she's been struggling with a knee issue for some time, and all I can say is those two athletes are very professional, and if they were 100% fit, they would be here.
And Kim is another classic professional on the WTA Tour, and a freak incident as it relates to a mole that has gotten infected, you try to play pro tennis with an infected foot, and I don't think she could do it. She didn't think she could do it, and so she's not here.
But let's be mindful of what we do have. We do have seven of ten. Last year we had nine of ten. And the Grand Slams even average eight, eight-and-a-half of ten. So the most important thing is we have the very best who are fit and playing on this court.
We have the hottest player on the WTA Tour this year. Caroline Wozniacki has won five titles and may in fact take No. 1 here on Thursday. Vera Zvonareva is the second hottest player on tour, two back-to-back Grand Slam finals. You have the French Open finalists here and a classic champion in Jelena Dementieva, and I can go on, along with your superstar, Li Na.
The premier mandatory is about if you're fit and able to play you'll be here. The athletes we have in fact are, and we have very stiff penalties if you don't play. Zero points are on your ranking, loss of bonus pool, and the players are the ones that have to make those tough decisions.
Q. My first question is to Stacey. If Caroline won her next two games and she would be new No. 1, and I can imagine some of our colleagues will write such things like we have a new No. 1...
STACEY ALLASTER: You're not going to write that, are you? (Laughter.)
Q. Of course I'm going to write it. I just try to express my point. We have a new No. 1 without Grand Slam title. So what's your response to that kind of a comment?
STACEY ALLASTER: The ranking system is intended to reward players for strong consistent performance over a 12-month period, and Caroline Wozniacki is very deserving of the world No. 1 should in fact she reach that accomplishment here in Beijing.
Caroline has won five titles this year, two of our very toughest events in Canada and in Tokyo. No small order. There's only two players this year that have gotten to the fourth round of all four Grand Slams, Caroline and Venus.
She's won more matches than any other player on tour. She's been in a Grand Slam final, and Kim Clijsters told Vera Zvonareva in New York, It took me four times.
So in totality, Caroline right now is the most consistent player over this 12-month period, and we'll see her performance today and tomorrow whether or not she captures and achieves that goal, and she is a very, very deserving world No. 1.
Q. (Through translation.) The second question is about also young players compared to Li Na and Zheng Jie as the top stars now in China. The question is: Many young female players in China see Li Na as their icon, their idol, but the fact is Li Na also did -- she worked a lot. She worked hard to become, to win today's performance. So how do you comment on the young players' performance now?
SUN JIN FANG: (Through translation.) Li Na is quite a talented player. We haven't seen such a talented player since more than 10 to 15 years. But when she was young, she has a little like issue about her expressing emotion on court, but that's not a problem now. But I can say that she worked really hard to become what she is now.
But for those young players, I can say during 2005 and 2007, those young players, their level was quite the same with Peng Shuai and Zheng Jie, but in these years like 2008 till now, their performance is not as good as Li Na, Peng Shuai, Zheng Jie. I think they still need -- if they want to go further in the professional tennis tour, they still need to do much more. We still need much more requirement on that if you want to go further in this tournament.
End of FastScripts