Chinese sports’ top five breakthroughs in 2013

Source:Global Times Published: 2013-12-26 0:58:02

In 2013, Chinese sportsmen, sportswomen and game players achieved breakthroughs in many fields. Here are five of the most significant:

Guangzhou Evergrande captain Zheng Zhi celebrates with the Asian Champions League trophy in Guangzhou on November 9. Photo: CFP

1. Evergrande claim Asian title

Guangzhou Evergrande, the most-talked-about Asian ­soccer team even in the West, finally won the Asian Champions League title as most had expected.

Led by Italian World Cup-winning coach Marcello Lippi, the three-time Chinese Super League champions became the first Chinese side to win Asia's top soccer title in its current format. With their South American trio - Dario Conca, Muriqui and Elkeson - Evergrande were undoubtedly the best team in Asia of 2013.

Captain Zheng Zhi was awarded the player of the year by the Asian governing body last month.

They also became the first Chinese club to take part in the FIFA Club World Cup.

In Morocco, they comfortably ousted Al Ahly, African Champions from Egypt, with a 3-0 victory in the quarterfinals. In this way they won an opportunity to face Bayern Munich in the semifinals. It turned out there's still a substantial gap between the Asian champions and their European counterparts: Evergrande managed a respectable 0-3 loss through hard work and plenty of luck, while Bayern's players hit the woodwork five times. In the third-place playoff, they lost controversially 2-3 to Atletico Mineiro, the South American champions from Brazil led by Ronaldinho.

Li Na Photo: CFP

2. Li rises to No.3 in WTA rankings

Li Na, the history-making Chinese No.1 tennis player, continued to make history in 2013, both for China and Asia.

In October, the 2011 French Open winner reached No.3 in the WTA ­rankings, a record high for any ­female Asian player.

In September, she became the first Chinese player to qualify for the semifinals of the US Open, but lost to eventual champion Serena Williams in straight sets after defending six match points.

Later in the tour's flagship season-ending tournament, the 2013 WTA Tour Championships, Li won all three of her round-robin matches against Sara Errani, Jelena Jankovic and Victoria Azarenka. After a convincing 6-4, 6-2 win over Petra Kvitova, the former Wimbledon champion, Li qualified for the final of the event for the first time, but lost, again, to Williams.

There were also some other achievements in Chinese tennis in 2013. Peng Shuai, the second-ranked Chinese player, won the women's doubles title at Wimbledon in July along with Chinese Taipei's Hsieh ­Su-wei.

There were also breakthroughs by male players. Wu Di became the first male Chinese player to compete in a Grand Slam, but was ousted in the first round of the Australian Open in January.

Guan Tianlang Photo: CFP

3. Guan makes cut at Masters

After qualifying for the 2013 ­Masters Tournament by winning the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship in 2012, Guan Tianlang became the youngest-ever player to compete in a major golf championship.

And in April at Augusta, he made headlines all over the world again by becoming the youngest player to make the cut in a major event, at just 14 years and five months. After practicing with Guan, world No.1 Tiger Woods said it was "frightening to think that he was born after I won my first masters."

­Another shining Chinese teen star is Ye Wocheng. In May he became the youngest player to compete in a ­European tour event when he played in the Volvo China Open in Tianjin, aged 12 years and 242 days.

Feng Shanshan, China's No.1 ­female golfer and the current No.6 in the LPGA rankings, won two events in the 2013 tour: the Reignwood LPGA Classic and the CME Group Titleholders.

Ding Junhui Photo: CFP

4. Ding wins three in a row

In 2013, China's most successful snooker player Ding Junhui won three consecutive major ranking events: the Shanghai Masters, the Indian Open in New Delhi and the International Championship in Chengdu. He became the first player to claim three major consecutive titles in snooker history since 1990 when Stephen Hendry won five in a row.

The Shanghai Masters final was the first-ever world ranking final between two Chinese players, with the other finalist being Xiao Guodong, while the International Championship final became the second all-Chinese final when Ding beat Marco Fu from Hong Kong.

After the three wins, Ding reached No.3 in the world rankings, his highest-­ever ranking.


Tang Weixing Photo: Xinhua

5. All six Weiqi titles

The year 2013 is the most successful year in individual competition for Chinese Weiqi players.

When Tang Wei­xing ­defeated 30-year-old South ­Korean Lee Sedol in the Samsung Insurance World Masters Baduk Championship earlier in December, Chinese ­players had won all six individual Weiqi titles of the year. It is the first time since 1996 that South Korean players have failed to claim a single individual title.

Zhou Ruiyang, Shi Yue, Fan Ting­yu, Chen Yaoye and Mi Yuting claimed the other five titles for China. Except Chen who was born in December 1989, all five other Chinese ­players were born in or after 1990. What's more exciting for Chinese fans, except Zhou, all the other five champions had defeated Lee, widely considered South Korea's best player, en route to their final championship wins.

Global Times

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