Li Na survived trailing 3-5 in the second set of her match against Iveta Benesova to advance 6-1 7-5 in the second round of Rome 2012. Li Na is in a very curious place at the moment. She started her year off playing much better than she did after winning Roland Garros last year, but lost a tough 3 set final against Victoria Azarenka in Sydney and then blew 4 straight match points in the round of 16 against Kim Clijsters at the 2012 Australian Open. Right now, she comes into Rome 2012 with 4 straight quarterfinal appearances (Indian Wells, Miami, Stuttgart and Madrid). The last two were 3 setters against Agnieszka Radwanska and Vika. So she is playing very well, but she just hasn’t been able to get that win to propel her to the semifinals or final like she started the year. Of course, that’s easier said than done. Other than a retirement in Paris, the rest of her losses have come twice to Vika and once each to Kim Clijsters, Maria Sharapova, Agnieszka Radwanska and the rising star Angelique Kerber. It would be nice to see a breakthrough at Rome…or maybe even better than that, successfully defending her title at Roland Garros.
It was too bad to see Caroline Wozniacki have to retire from her match against Anabel Medina Garrigues. With all due respect to Garrigues, seeing Caroline trailing 4-6 0-4 would suggest the former #1 was in no shape to compete. Wozniacki said she had a fever and a sore throat, triggered by allergies. Hopefully, she will be 100% for Roland Garros. She plays so many tournaments, maybe it will be good for her to take a rest. Call me crazy, but I think Wozniacki might just make her Major breakthrough at Roland Garros. Is she my top pick? No. But along with Vika, Masha and Serena, I would make her one of my top 4 picks, even above Francesca Schiavone, who has made two straight finals, winning in 2010. Speaking of Roland Garros winners, it was nice to see Ana Ivanovic also move on easily in the second round of Rome 2012. She is another who has played fairly well this year, but needs a breakthrough win.
The biggest loss of the day was Victoria Azarenka, pulling out with a shoulder injury after beating Shahar Peer. She played great against Peer, never facing a break point. There was some talk that she had a sore shoulder in Madrid last week, but she made no excuses (nor should she have) for her loss to Serena Williams there. With the withdrawal, Dominika Cibulkova moves through the 3rd round on a walkover.
Singles – Second Round
(1) Victoria Azarenka (BLR) d. Shahar Peer (ISR) 61 62
Petra Cetkovska (CZE) d. (3) Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) 64 46 61
(5) Samantha Stosur (AUS) d. Sara Errani (ITA) 63 75
Anabel Medina Garrigues (ESP) d. (6) Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) 64 40 ret. (upper respiratory illness)
Julia Goerges (GER) d. (7) Marion Bartoli (FRA) 63 61
(8) Li Na (CHN) d. Iveta Benesova (CZE) 61 75
(9) Serena Williams (USA) d. Nadia Petrova (RUS) 46 62 63
(12) Angelique Kerber (GER) d. Vania King (USA) 63 62
(13) Ana Ivanovic (SRB) d. (Q) Sílvia Soler-Espinosa (ESP) 62 61
(14) Dominika Cibulkova (SVK) d. (WC) Karin Knapp (ITA) 63 46 61
Flavia Pennetta (ITA) d. (Q) Sloane Stephens (USA) 62 63
Sorana Cirstea (ROU) d. Sofia Arvidsson (SWE) 63 61
Chanelle Scheepers (RSA) d. Marina Erakovic (NZL) 57 61 62
(WC) Venus Williams (USA) d. Ekaterina Makarova (RUS) 76(7) 61