By Sportswriter Wang Jimin
BEIJING, Oct. 2 (Xinhua) -- Chinese tennis star Li Na is enjoying one of most consistent stretches this season now, and she gives all the credits to her newly hired coach Carlos Rodriguez.
Rodriguez's partnership with Li is short, but the results have been immediate. In her first tournament after joining forces with him (despite communicating with him only electronically), she reached the final in Montreal. The next week she won an event in Cincinnati, joined midweek by the Argentine.
"I really have to say he's very good coach. I mean, he not only tells me how to play tennis. It's more important that the whole team will together make the goal. And also, he taught me a lot on how to do on the court. Before I was always easy to explode on the court. Now I think I change a lot," said the Chinese No. 1 after reaching third round at the China Open on Tuesday.
Li hired Rodriguez, who used to escort former world No. 1 Justine Henin, after losing in the first round at the London Olympics this August. She was apparently looking for a change.
The Argentine took the place of Jiang Shan, Li's former coach and her husband whom she married in 2006.
"Jiang is not out of my career completely as he still serves as my hitting partner. Besides, he can take care of my life, like a manager."
"My team have meeting on a regular basis. We make a plan, and everybody will play their role. It's not the case that we just work out a temporary solution for a day or a month. We have long-time schedule or plan, like this season or next season."
Rodriguez and Li seem to start having chemical when Li plays on the courts of the home event. When the Chinese is in a rush or a little bit impatient, she likes to say something to the coach, and Rodriguez gives a gesture to make her calm down.
"I think before Carlos jumps in, I didn't have much intent to share that with my team. Now I share the information with Carlos. I think he will definitely share the same thing with me."
Rodriguez, 48, has spent the majority of his career coaching Belgian women. His first stint on the WTA Tour was with Dominique Monami from 1994 to 1996. After that, he switched to the then 14-year-old junior prospect Henin. He stayed as her sole coach for 15 years, until she retired for the second time in 2011 with seven Grand Slam titles and 117 weeks at the No. 1 ranking to her name.
In earlier interview the Argentine said Li has what it takes to break into top five and even win another Grand Slam again and become world No. 1.
And Li answered,"I'm really grateful that he has this much confidence in me. I still want to win more in future and it's too early to talk about my retirement."