By Spencer Musick
BEIJING, Oct. 7 (Xinhua) -- A senior WTA official is praising improvements made at the 2016 installment of the China Open tennis tournament, and pointing to a bright future ahead for women's tennis.
Giulia Orlandi, Vice President of Officiating/Competition & Onsite Operations at the WTA, noted on Friday that almost all the big names are accounted for at the end of a heavy, Olympic-year season.
"September, October are tough months for the athletes but they are all here, they are okay. We are only missing a few names, probably a couple in total; everybody is here and playing," Orlandi said.
She added that the China Open is "a very good tournament that (players) never miss unless there is a serious injury. It is one of our best full tournaments in the year, and every year we find big improvements."
Orlandi, who has responsibility for overseeing the onsite management portion of the WTA's operations, said that 2016 edition of the China Open is marked by significant upgrades in the physical plant of the competition site that benefit both players and spectators.
"This year the center court looks beautiful. There are a lot of improvements on site for the players as well in the players area, so we found very nice upgrades this year."
Orlandi also sees potential for the future development of women' s tennis, both in China and worldwide, spurred by the performance of players like Zhang Shuai, who has advanced to the quarterfinals this year.
She hopes that Zhang can inspire more young Chinese to take up tennis.
"We need another Li Na. And it would be nice to have a new younger player with a very nice smile, nice personality, (who plays) very good tennis; it would be very positive for women's tennis in general, especially for China but good for women's tennis overall," she said.
Orlandi also briefly commented on the recent decision to lift half of Russian Maria Sharapova's doping ban, saying that the WTA--as a full participant in WADA--supports its adjudication and is committed to clean competition.
"We are part of the WADA system, and we are a full part of the program, and we support the program, and if a player is in violation, we support the penalties. We obviously are happy with the final decision of the judge, and we welcome back Maria as soon as possible, at the end of April," she said.