Li Na and coach Carlos Rodriguez to spend time apart

Doug Robson USA TODAY sports

July 3, 2014 – Carlos Rodriguez was the calming force and strategic mastermind behind Li Na’s late-career surge.

linaBut Li is on her own again, after reports Thursday that the 50-year-old Argentine had ended a nearly two-year relationship to spend more time at the tennis academy he oversees in Beijing.

Li’s agent, Max Eisenbud of IMG, said Rodriguez was under contract for another 18 months and that the academy owners no longer wanted him on the road.

“Basically we were renting him from the academy,” Eisenbud said Thursday at Wimbledon.

Initially the owners believed it would be good for business to be associated with one of China’s highest-profile athletes. But over time they felt the arrangement was not paying dividends.

“The academy just felt like he couldn’t travel anymore,” he said.

Eisenbud said Li, the reigning Australian Open champion and world No. 2, was aware of the situation but figured they would find a way to work it out.

She didn’t take it well.

“It’s not an easy situation but there’s not really much we could do,” said Eisenbud, whose other clients include Maria Sharapova. “I think it was a tough couple days for her.”

Li hired Rodriguez, who coached Belgium’s Justine Henin to seven Grand Slam titles, in July 2012.


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