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Olympic hopeful Yan Zi crashes in Paris
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China's Yan Zi, whose dream of Olympic gold has kept her battling despite injury and tragedy at home, fell at the first hurdle at the French Open on Monday.

The 23-year-old, who comes from the quake-hit area of Sichuan, battled for just over two hours with her 108th-ranked opponent and a right thigh problem before falling 1-6, 6-4, 8-6 to French veteran Emilie Loit.

"I've had a right thigh problem for the past few weeks, but this year is important so I'm trying to play on," explained the 42nd-ranked Yan.

Her dream of winning an Olympic medal has kept her focused despite the drama surrounding her family and friends in China.

"My mum and dad and all the family are there. All my team, coaches and other young players are also from there. Our home is OK, so that's not too bad even if they are still worried because of the aftershocks," explained Yan, who was playing in Rome when news of the disaster came through.

"I kept trying to call and call but couldn't get through, all the lines were down. I was really worried, it was more than a day before I got any news."

But even her determination was not enough to see her past a 28-year-old opponent who is playing in her 12th French Open.

Yan saved a match point in the ninth game of the second set, but despite fighting back in the third set could not stop an increasingly confident Loit, who sealed victory on her second match point, throwing her racket into the crowd in delight.

Next up for Yan is the doubles followed by the grass of Wimbledon before she travels on home to Beijing for her Olympic preparations on hard court, as Loit meets Slovenia's Katarina Srebotnik for a place in the third round here.

(AFP via China Daily May 28, 2008)

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