Li Na has been a trailblazer for Asian tennis players in singles many times before, most notably as the first (and so far, only) Major winner in singles from an Asian country. Coming in to her semifinal match against Petra Kvitova at the 2013 TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships, Li Na was tied with Kimiko Date-Krumm as the highest ranked Asian tennis players in singles, male or female. Both had at different times been ranked as high as #4. With an impressive 6-4 6-2 victory over Petra, Li Na now stands alone as having achieved the highest ranking of any player all-time, rising to #3. When you add in that she reaches her highest ranking at the age of 31, and as a 31 year old POWER player at that, and it’s remarkable. 31 was once the downside of a tennis career. I wouldn’t say 30 is the new 20, but maybe for a select few it’s the new 24 or 25. Serena Williams is talking about maybe playing to 40 years old. I don’t know if Li Na has that many years in the tank, but she sure seems fit enough to play for several more years. Sure, Kimiko Date-Krumm is still playing past 40, but I’m talking about a time period where a player could reasonably shoot for top 10 status. I think Li Na and Serena have at least 3 more years, maybe longer.
Despite all the accolades for Li Na, she will still be a huge underdog against Serena Williams in the final, just as anybody would be. But maybe other players can learn from Jelena Jankovic, who took Serena to 3 sets in the semis. Win or lose, Jeca refuses to let herself be intimidated or play with fear. If 99.99% of tennis fans think you’re going to lose anyway, why be afraid? Just go hit out. You’re playing with house money, as they say. And if you put some heat on Serena early, she might just wilt a little. If Serena has a weakness, it’s that she sometimes can let nerves get to her, despite her vast skill advantage. If Serena beats Li Na, so be it. I just want to see Li Na going for her shots and fighting.
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 26, 2013
|13:00||SEMIFINALS|| S HSIEH / S PENG (TPE / CHN)||d||N PETROVA / K SREBOTNIK (RUS / SLO)||| 7 – 6 (5) | 6 – 2 ||
|15:00||SEMIFINALS|| NA LI (CHN)||d|| PETRA KVITOVA (CZE)||| 6 – 4 | 6 – 2 ||
|17:00||SEMIFINALS|| SERENA WILLIAMS (USA)||d|| JELENA JANKOVIC (SRB)||| 6 – 4 | 2 – 6 | 6 – 4 ||
|19:00||SEMIFINALS||E MAKAROVA / E VESNINA (RUS / RUS)||d|| S ERRANI / R VINCI (ITA / ITA)||| 4 – 6 | 7 – 5 | 10 – 3 ||
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 27, 2013
|14:30||–||EKATERINA MAKAROVA / ELENA VESNINA (RUS / RUS)||V|| SU-WEI HSIEH / SHUAI PENG (TPE / CHN)|
|17:00||–|| SERENA WILLIAMS (USA)||V|| NA LI (CHN)|
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