The NHL pulls out of the Olympics, and Coach Grignard on tennis in China


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On the show this week, as the NHL forbids players from going to the Beijing Olympics (1:06), Mark and Haig discuss the impact on the Games (2:08), why Olympic hockey is important (3:38), who will replace the NHL players (4:41), and dig into the NHL’s decision — and its timing (5:45).

Elsewhere, a look at how the NHL decision benefits the Chinese team (6:33), which has had some roster upheaval — and friction — in recent days (7:54). Mark also talks about his media tour — talking about Peng Shuai with NBC, WTA with Reuters (10:00), and women’s hockey — and tennis! — with CGTN (12:04). Plus, all the latest in the Peng Shuai Exhibition Tour, as she is paraded in Shanghai (12:52).

Next, we talk to Olivier Grignard, a Belgian tennis coach who first came to China in 2011 to work alongside Li Na’s coach Carlos Rodriguez, and has seen a lot of change over the subsequent years (14:31). He’s currently working with Chinese tennis player Lu Jiajing (highest world ranking 162) — who also came into the studio! – and is running his own NextChamp program (15:50).

He talks about the impact that Li Na has had on the sport in China (17:23), gives his verdict on China’s rising stars Wang Xinyu and Wang Xinyu (18:22), outlines the typical setup of China’s top players (20:14), and explains why the best juniors don’t always find success at the pro level (20:45). Next, Grignard compares Chinese players with their international counterparts (22:29), explains why the Chinese men haven’t had the same success as the women (23:42), reveals where the good players are coming from (25:54), and discusses the difference between state support for Chinese players versus those who hire their own team (27:02).

Finally, Grignard discusses the impact on player development given the suspension of WTA tournaments in China and the fact that Chinese players can’t easily travel overseas (28:20), before revealing his plans for the future alongside Lu Jiajing (29:49).