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Chinese girls face uphill task at French Open
2006-05-27 07:13:31 Xinhua English

PARIS, May 27 (Xinhua) -- China will boast six women in the French Open first round, but head coach Jiang Hongwei said it is no easy task to match their best performance of the round of 16 at the second Grand Slam tournament of the season.

Li Na, the world number 39, who defeated world number seven Patty Schyder in Berlin recently, faces American veteran Amy Frazier in the first round with Russian Anna Chakvetadze, the 27th seed, a possible second round opponent and eighth seed Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova likely to be waiting in the third round.

Zheng Jie, who beat Li to take the Estoril tournament this year and who reached the fourth round of the French Open two years ago, takes on French 23rd seed Tatiana Golovin in her opener.

China's number three Peng Shuai will square off against Russia's Elena Vesnina, Yan Zi takes on America's Jamea Jackson, Yuan Meng plays a qualifier while Sun Tiantian meets Ekaterina Bychkova of Russia.

"Honestly speaking, we don't have any specific target this year, though we hope to make progress," Jiang told Xinhua.

"It will add to our burden if we always think about breakthrough, " he added.

China's women singles players' best showing in Grand Slam events was in 2004 when Zheng Jie reached the fourth round.

Compared with their second-tier status in the singles event, the Chinese girls are much more successful in the doubles event.

Li Ting and Sun Tiantian won the Olympic women's doubles gold at the Athens Games in 2004, and Zheng and Yan claimed the country's first-ever Grand Slam title when they won the women's doubles at this year's Australian Open.

"We are a force in women's tennis, but aren't in the top class. That's for sure," said Jiang.

"There is still a long way to go."

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