She sort of fired her husband, which could not have been easy, but then, Li Na does possess a crucial element for getting through life: humour.
As she went about winning her first tour title since the 2011 French Open, Li enlightened reporters in Cincinnati last week on her new coaching situation with Carlos Rodriguez, renowned as the coach of the retired, Hall of Fame-bound Justine Henin.
"It's really tough to find a balance between husband and coach," Li said, "so right now Carlos have the coaching and [my] husband just, like, change the grip, fix the drink and send the racquet. That's all. Yeah."
Everyone laughed in the middle of that, but the merriment has not extended to opponents lately. In Montreal and Cincinnati, Li has gone 9-1, lost only in the Montreal final to Petra Kvitova, won four matches against top-10 players, beaten Venus Williams in a three-set Cincinnati semi-final and ravaged the No 2-ranked Agnieszka Radwanska, yielding her five games in two beatings.
In other words, the only Chinese player to win a grand slam has elbowed into the US Open conversation and all but ensured she will surpass last year. Of course, there still could be a major snag.
"Maybe take off the French fries," she suggested of the US Open. "No, I mean, every time I was being the US Open, I can always smell the French fries everywhere, you know. Sometimes good, and sometimes if you are hungry, it's very tough to hold there. Yeah."
& Chuck Culpepper