Petra Cetkovska Upsets Li Na In 2011 New Haven Open At Yale Semifinals

Petra Cetkovska

If 2011 Roland Garros champion Li Na was looking to build confidence going into the US Open, her performance against qualifier Petra Cetkovska in the semifinals of the New Haven Open at Yale isn’t going to help. Sure, it was a tight, thrilling three set match decided by a tiebreak. The problem for Li Na is, it should never have been a tight, thrilling three set match decided by a tiebreak. She is far better than she played. With all due respect to Petra, and she deserved to win and get a chance to upset Caroline Wozniacki in the final, Li Na was far too sloppy. Where is the player that beat Kim Clijsters at Medibank to begin the year? Where is the player who had Kim on the ropes in the final of the Australian Open? Where is the player that won Roland Garros? That Li Na would have beaten Cetkovska 2 and 2.

Li Na

Instead, she was broken in the first game of the match and then in the fifth game. Li Na was committing a lot of errors, particularly on the forehand side. She has always been a high risk, high reward type of player who goes for shots, building a large number of winners and unforced errors. But this summer, it has been a story of too many errors and too few winners. As bad as the first set 2-6 loss for Li was, she was down triple set point against, 1-5 0-40, before salvaging a token second game.

I am a big Li Na fan. So why am I being a bit hard on her? Because she is capable of winning the next Major, the US Open. At this stage of her career, she cannot afford to let opportunities slip by. The commentators on the match brought up a good point. Li’s shots lack spin. That’s well known. She likes to flatten shots out. That’s what made her win at Roland Garros so surprising. It’s usually a variety of spins that conquers Paris. Li’s lack of that means she has less margin for error on shots. So if her game is just a little off, she goes from world beater to middle of the pack in the blink of an eye. When everything is working, she is capable of beating anybody. I would add to what the commentators said by adding that a lack of spins also doesn’t give her a plan B. They probably meant that, too. When Li was outhitting Clijsters in the final of the 2011 Australian Open, Kimmie showed her ability to adapt. Power wasn’t working that day against Li, so Kimmie went to a variety of loops, slices and spins. It took Li completely out of her rhythm. When Li Na’s power game isn’t working, what is plan B? Hit it harder. That doesn’t work all the time. And it’s not only about spin. It’s about strategy. Cetkovska was hitting a lot of forehand winners early on. Despite this, Li kept hitting it to Petra’s forehand side. How about trying to pick on her backhand to see if that will break down and get her out of her forehand rhythm? Li Na didn’t do that. Consequently, she goes into New York off a bad loss. She can still win the US Open. But she better use the early rounds against lesser players to rediscover her winning formula.

Singles – Semifinals
(1) Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) d. (3) Francesca Schiavone (ITA) 76(2) 63
(Q) Petra Cetkovska (CZE) d. (2/WC) Li Na (CHN) 62 57 76(9)

PETRA CETKOVSKA

LI NA

CAROLINE WOZNIACKI

RORY MCILROY (on right) with PIOTR WOZNIACKI

CAROLINE WOZNIACKI and RORY MCILROY, wearing #96 (w/Yale Football Team)

FRANCESCA SCHIAVONE

2 thoughts on “Petra Cetkovska Upsets Li Na In 2011 New Haven Open At Yale Semifinals

  1. Pingback: 2011 US Open - Page 4 - LPGA Tour Forum

  2. Pingback: Li Na Dismissed In First Round Of 2011 US Open; No Reigning Major Winners Left In Women’s Draw « Fairways And Forehands

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