Chinese number one Wu Di urged China's tennis authorities to send players abroad to gain experience after he went tumbling out of the Shanghai Masters on Wednesday.
The wildcard's comprehensive 6-2, 6-2 defeat to Gilles Simon in round two ended local interest in the tournament as China's long wait for success in the men's game goes on.
Li Na won two women's Grand Slam titles, prompting rapid growth in the sport in China, before retiring in 2014. But China's men are yet to make an impact.
Wu, China's highest ranked male at 182, said the country needed to look to the United States or Europe rather than trying to develop players at home.
"There are many promising young players. They are in China," said Wu, fielding familiar questions after his latest flop on home soil.
"I think they need to work out and need to practise or play some matches in the United States and Europe which will be more helpful for them.
"There are just that many players here in China. It's a small pool. So what you can do, you can only practise within this small circle."
Li's runaway success came after she made the tough and controversial decision to split from China's state sporting system and go it alone with her own coaching set-up.
Wu and China's number two, 197th-ranked Zhang Ze, are the country's standard-bearers but Wu said they needed regular practice against tougher opposition.
"Me and Zhang Ze, we are still very young, 25 and 26. We are still actually relatively young players," he said.
"We may have appeared a couple of times, people think we are veterans, but really we are young. We need to get national team support and go abroad."
Wu has long carried China's hopes despite a dismal record on the senior ATP circuit, where he won his first main-draw match in seven years of trying at last month's Chengdu Open.