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Tennis | WTA

Li Na © Gallo Images

Li Na to play in Japan despite tensions



China's Li Na will play in Japan in the coming week, despite athletes from both countries pulling out of tournaments over tensions between Beijing and Tokyo, organisers said Friday.

The world-ranked eight Li, who won the 2011 French Open, will be joined by fellow Chinese Zheng Jie and Peng Shuai at the $2.17-million Pan Pacific Open, which starts Sunday.

"They are coming," a tournament official said of the trio. "We have not heard otherwise."

The WTA tournament comes as ties between China and Japan have deteriorated markedly over Japan-administered islands in the East China Sea called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China.

After Japan nationalised them earlier this month, anti-Japan demonstrations erupted across China, destroying Japanese cars and businesses, amid reports of assaults against Japanese nationals.

Japanese rugby, cycling and table tennis teams have dropped plans to compete in China over fears for their safety.

Chinese players withdrew from this week's badminton Japan Open in Tokyo over the island row.

A worry for Li, however, might be her fitness.

Only three weeks ago, the 30-year-old said she needed to take a break from the sport after a shock defeat to British teenager Laura Robson at the US Open.

"I can't go back on the practice court straightaway. I have to take some days off otherwise this will kill me," Li said.

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