2011 can’t end quickly enough for Chinese tennis superstar Li Na. After achieving new heights with a final appearance at the Australian Open and winning Roland Garros, it has been been a forgettable finish to the year. Her plummet continued with a loss to qualifier Monica Niculescu in the first round of the 2011 China Open, 6-4 6-0. Li Na pulled no punches in describing what she is feeling right now.
“Right now I’ve just lost all confidence. On the court I don’t know what I can do. I felt even winning one point was tough for me. My coach came out and told me exactly what was right, but I couldn’t do it. The end of the season is coming and there’s a long break – hopefully I’ll be able to stand up again and prepare for next year.” – Li Na
I certainly hope she will be back strong next year. What has happened to her is not unlike what happened to Ana Ivanovic when she had lost all confidence in her game. Like Ivanovic, Li Na has all the physical tools to be a dominant player. It’s the mental part that will make or break her game.
Samantha Stosur bounced back from an upset loss in Tokyo last week to Maria Kirilenko to open her campaign in Beijing with a 6-4 6-0 win over 2011 Wimbledon quarterfinalist (and 2010 Wimbledon semifinalist) Tsvetana Pironkova. Stosur admitted it was tough to come back in Tokyo after winning the US Open. She also spoke about what is happening to Li Na.
“It’s tough for her. She had a great first six months of the year, probably couldn’t have asked for a much better year. Since then she has struggled. I feel for her, because it’s never nice to lose as many matches as what she has being a player capable of playing the way she can. Maybe it’s some of the price you pay for having success, all the pressure that comes along with it. But I’m sure she’ll win many more matches to come.” – Samantha Stosur, talking about Li Na
Singles – First Round
(Q) Monica Niculescu (ROU) d. (4) Li Na (CHN) 64 60
(6) Samantha Stosur (AUS) d. Tsvetana Pironkova (BUL) 64 60
(8) Marion Bartoli (FRA) d. Iveta Benesova (CZE) 36 64 75
(13) Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) d. (Q) Barbora Zahlavova Strycova(CZE) 75 64
(14) Sabine Lisicki (GER) d. Irina-Camelia Begu (ROU) 62 ret. (right shoulder injury)
Ana Ivanovic (SRB) d. Kimiko Date-Krumm (JPN) 61 61
Dominika Cibulkova (SVK) d. (WC) Zhang Shuai (CHN) 60 62
Daniela Hantuchova (SVK) d. (Q) Eleni Daniilidou (GRE) 64 62
María José Martínez Sánchez (ESP) d. Shahar Peer (ISR) 61 75
Polona Hercog (SLO) d. (Q) Laura Robson (GBR) 64 63
Kaia Kanepi (EST) d. (WC) Zheng Saisai (CHN) 60 63
(Q) Chanelle Scheepers (RSA) d. (WC) Hu Yue-Yue (CHN) 60 57 60
(Q) Christina McHale (USA) d. Ayumi Morita (JPN) 62 06 63
(Q) Carla Suárez Navarro (ESP) d. Ekaterina Makarova (RUS) 75 61
VICTORIA AZARENKA (press conference)
MARIA JOSE MARTINEZ SANCHEZ
PETRA KVITOVA (press conference)