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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 10 December 2018

Ivan Lendl joins Alexander Zverev’s coaching team, while Li Na could be first Asian in Hall of Fame

Two-time major champion from China is one of eight grand slam title winners who are candidates for the Hall of Fame’s Class of 2019

Germany's Alexander Zverev has yet to win a major title but remains one of the most promising players on the ATP Tour. Reuters
Germany's Alexander Zverev has yet to win a major title but remains one of the most promising players on the ATP Tour. Reuters

Alexander Zverev has boosted his coaching team ahead of the US Open by adding former grand slam champion Ivan Lendl to his staff.

“Welcome to the team Ivan Lendl,” Zverev, 21, posted on Instagram, along with a picture of Lendl and his team.

The world No 4 is eager to improve on his poor record at the US Open, which starts on Monday, having never made it past the second round at Flushing Meadows. His best performance at a major was when he lost in the quarter-finals at the French Open in May.

The German had worked with former world No 1 Juan Carlos Ferrero, but he split with the Spaniard after a bust up following the Australian Open in January when he lost to Chung Hyeon of South Korea in the third round.

Zverev gave no details of what role Lendl will play, but the 58-year-old Czech hero, an eight-time grand slam winner, has a wealth of experience having coached former world No 1 Andy Murray in two stints.

Working with Lendl, Murray improved his consistency and won the 2012 US Open and the 2013 Wimbledon titles, becoming the first Britain to win the All England club title since Fred Perry in 1936.

Meanwhile, Li Na could become the first player from Asia to be elected to the International Tennis Hall of Fame (ITF).

The two-time major champion from China is one of eight grand slam title winners who are candidates for the Hall of Fame’s Class of 2019, a list that includes Goran Ivanisevic, Yevgeny Kafelnikov and ­Conchita Martinez.

Also on the slate revealed yesterday for the hall’s first election that will include a fan vote: Jonas Bjorkman, Sergi Bruguera, Thomas Muster and Mary Pierce.

Li retired at age 32 because of recurring knee injuries in 2014, eight months after winning the Australian Open and rising to a career-best world No 2.

She also won the 2011 French Open, making her the first Asian-born tennis player to collect a major singles trophy.

Li Na was a trailblazer during much of her career as a professional tennis player. AP Photo
Li Na was a trailblazer during much of her career as a professional tennis player. AP Photo

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The candidates:

— Ivanisevic, a big-serving lefty from Croatia, won Wimbledon in 2001 as a wild-card entry while ranked 125th. He previously lost in three finals at the All England Club.

— Kafelnikov is the last man to win singles and doubles championships at the same grand slam tournament, pulling that off at the 1996 French Open. He also won the singles title at the 1999 Australian Open, finished with a total of four major doubles trophies, reached No 1 in the rankings and won an Olympic gold medal for Russia at the 2000 Games.

— Martinez was the 1994 Wimbledon champion and was twice a runner-up at majors. She also helped Spain earn five Fed Cup titles.

— Bjorkman compiled a career Grand Slam in doubles, with nine major titles in all, and reached No 1 in the rankings. He helped Sweden win three Davis Cup titles. In singles, he got as high as No. 4 and made it to the semi-finals at the US Open and Wimbledon.

— Bruguera won the French Open in 1993 and 1994, was ranked as high as No 3 and picked up a silver medal for Spain at the 1996 Olympics.

— Muster returned from a serious knee injury to win the 1995 French Open. The Austrian won 12 titles in all that season, tied for the most in a season.

— Pierce's title at the 2000 French Open was the most recent in singles for a French player at Roland Garros. She also won a doubles title there that year. Her other grand slam singles title came at the 1995 Australian Open and she helped win two Fed Cup titles.