Yesterday was simply not a good one for Chinese players as Li Na, Peng Shuai, Yan Zi and Zhang Shuai all crashed out of the ongoing China Open in Beijing in straight sets.
The Chinese women failed to continue their form one month after the Olympics despite the high hopes of home fans.
Olympic semifinalist Li slipped to a 6-1, 7-6 (7-4) defeat against Italy's Francesca Schiavone, while Peng lost to Alla Kudryavtseva of Russia 7-5, 6-4.
Doubles specialist Yan was beaten by Japan's veteran Ai Sugiyama 6-3, 6-4 and Zhang was outclassed by France's Alize Cornet 6-1, 3-6, 7-6 (9/7).
China's Zhang Shuai returns a ball during the women's singles first round match against France's Alize Cornet at the 2008 China Open in Beijing, capital of China, Sept. 23, 2008. Zhang Shuai lost 1-2. [Xinhua]
Li, China's highest-ranked player, who also reached the fourth round of the US Open, couldn't find the touch that helped her beat the likes of Svetlana Kuznetsova and Venus Williams at the Beijing Games.
"Today, I think I was in a hurry and I made many faults," the 29th-ranked Li said. "I was very frustrated today because I should play better. I couldn't find my groundstrokes and serves either.
"It was a bad match for me."
Li admitted she failed to take her chances during the match, for example, when serving for the second set at 5-3.
"I'm a little bit afraid of upcoming matches," she said, referring to her first round defeats both here and at last week's Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo.
However, the Hubei native gave her fans a reason to be happy, confirming that she won't retire after the National Games next year.
The world No 29 said talk of her retirement next year was a misunderstanding as fans mistakenly guessed she would quit the sport after completing the "five-year plan" she set in 2004, which covers the Beijing Olympics and the National Games.
"I never said I will quit after finishing that plan," Li smiled. "I made the plan but it has nothing to do with my retirement.
"Maybe it's time for me to make another 'five-year plan'.
"I just hope I can continue playing tennis. The goal is simple: playing good tennis in every game."
Li, who made tennis history for China by reaching world No 16 in Jan 2007, said she would fight hard for the remainder of the season and try to break her previous ranking record.
"I want to see how much I can improve my rankings," said Li who was sidelined due to injury for a couple of months before the Beijing Olympics.
"I did not play much in the first half of the year. I hope I can be better in the second half."