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Chang's Peng pong diplomacy

November 23, 2007 16:40 IST

Former French Open champion Michael Chang is no longer coaching China's Peng Shuai but still believes he could help Chinese chances of winning medals at next year's Beijing Olympics.

The Chinese-American, who took over as coach of China's number two early this year, said he had disagreed with Peng over the length of time she spent training and had "quite recently" broken his connection with her.

"I'm not going to be her official coach any more," he told reporters at Mission Hills, where he will open a tennis academy next year. "She needs someone to travel with her and I just don't have the time to be able to do that. We'd always keep our door open and if she ever needs anything...

"Peng Shuai and I would butt heads a little bit on the time she put in to training," he added. "I think she thought that at times I was too strict and (she) ended up putting in more time than she was used to."

Chang, champion at Roland Garros in 1989, said the Chinese needed to change the way they prepared their players in areas such as physical training, playing style, scouting opponents and racket technology.

"My experience over this past year is that there are things that can be improved upon and certainly an open mind is a good start," he said. China's Sun Tiantian and Li Ting were the surprise winners of the women's doubles at the 2004 Olympics and a stellar 2006 encouraged hopes of more medals on home soil in 2008.

The 2007 season was, however, disappointing for the Chinese women as injury and poor form took their toll. Despite his split with world number 45 Peng, Chang said his relationship with the China Tennis Association (CTA) was "pretty good" and he still hoped to be part of China's team at the Beijing Games next August.

"My heart is with Chinese tennis so if there's an opportunity to help the team or have an advisory role then I'll take advantage of that," the former world number two said.

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