Reports: Li, Clijsters split with coaches

Friday September 23rd, 2011

French Open champion Li Na has parted ways with Danish coach Michael Mortensen, according to China Daily.

Mortensen started working with Li at the end of April and helped her break a three-month slump. Li immediately made back-to-back semifinals in Madrid and Rome and then went on to win her first major title at Roland Garros. But she has struggled since then, including a first-round loss at the U.S. Open, where Li hinted at growing dissatisfaction with how Mortensen was handling her drop in form.

"Before the match, I was talking to my coach. I say, 'I didn’t have good timing to hit the ball,'" Li said. "He tells me everything is perfect, everything is fantastic. I say, 'Yes, everything is fantastic, but I always lose first round.' I mean, this is not fantastic. I think we need to change something. I think maybe the team or coach just try to give me confidence, but I don't think I get [it]."

China Daily reported that Li soured on Mortensen's "mild and gentle" style of coaching. Perhaps when you're stuck in a horrible slump, suffering a crisis of confidence and dealing with the weight of expectation, hearing a steady stream of positivity can be grating and sound dishonest.

Mortensen worked previously with Caroline Wozniacki and was referred to Li by Wozniacki's father, Piotr. The WTA No. 1 has been working with a new coach for a while but has refused to name him. In other coaching news, Kim Clijsters (remember her?) has split from longtime coach Wim Frissette and turned to Carl Maes, according to Belgian media. Maes coached Clijsters from 1995-2002 and rejoined her team earlier this year.

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