So far, so good for Li Na and new coach, Carlos Rodriguez. The 2011 Roland Garros champion won her first title since that Saturday in Paris as she came back from the edge to defeat Angelique Kerber 1-6 6-3 6-1 to win the 2012 Western & Southern Open. It looked rather bleak in the first set for Li Na as Angelique just came out a blew her off the court. Typical of Li Na when she is struggling, she was going for big shots early and making errors. At the changeover between sets, Carlos Rodriguez came out and was very positive. He wanted Li Na to work herself into points more. But patience has never been her strong suit. In fact, she immediately came out and lost her serve at love to go down a quick break in the second set. It looked like a double breadstick, 1 and 1, win for Angelique. However, Li Na started to work points more, waiting for the right moment to go for shots. Moreover, the longer points were taking a physical toll on Kerber who visibly began to tire. After winning a long game to go up 5-3, Li Na seized control of the match. Kerber completely unraveled not only physically but mentally. It was quick work for Li Na to finish her off in the final set.
With her first win since last year’s Roland Garros, it’s good to see Li Na fight back. After winning the French, she fell off the face of the earth the rest of the year. She was having trouble just winning matches, much less tournaments, late in the year. It’s all mental with Li. She has all the tools. If Carlos Rodriguez, the longtime coach/mentor of Justine Henin, can help manage Li Na’s emotions, she could have several good years left at the top, even past 30.
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