Troubled Peng looks for Chang's help

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 20 March, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 20 March, 2007, 12:00am

China's troubled diva Peng Shuai is courting American legend Michael Chang to help her return to tip-top form before the Olympics in Beijing, a high-ranking official at the Chinese Tennis Association said.

'Yes, Peng has been engaged in negotiations with Chang and a deal could be around the corner,' said CTA's deputy director.

Chang, 35, was first linked to Chinese tennis late last year during the season-ending Tennis Masters Cup in Shanghai, where he proposed to CTA chief Sun Jinfang that he would be an ideal candidate to coach the national team.

Although no agreement was reached then, the two sides have kept in touch ever since.

'Both of us have spent a lot of time mulling over how he could best fit into the existing structure,' said Gao.

Peng, who learned her game at a Florida tennis academy, lost her place as China's top player to Li Na early last year after the break-up with her former American coach.

The maverick star was also locked in a well-documented dispute with the CTA in a bid to wrestle back control of her career.

But peace has apparently broken out between the governing body and Peng, now ranked 42 in the world.

A joint management group composed of officials from the CTA and local sports authorities in Peng's native Tianjin now takes care of the hard-hitting 21-year-old, who is being touted as medal hopeful in the Olympic tennis tournament next year.

Chang is the most successful ethnic Chinese player in the sport's history and the youngest-ever grand slam winner - the 1989 French Open title at the age of 17.

He commands a huge popularity on the mainland, where he is better known as Zhang Depei.