Photo credit: Paul Zimmer/QTF
Li Na explained how winning a second Grand Slam has helped her prove to herself – along with her doubters – that her first major triumph at the French Open in 2011 was no fluke.
It took her almost two and half years to add a second Grand Slam title to her resume but the 31-year-old can now proudly say she is no one-Slam wonder.
“I heard a lot, after 2011, so many people say ‘oh, she is lucky, she only can win one, she cannot win a second one’,” Li Na told reporters in Doha on Wednesday.
“So I didn't want to show all of them, but at least I show myself I can win the second one. And also, because I was prepared for what I should do to win the Grand Slam.
“So I was really happy. Doesn't matter how old I am. I'm still young. So I'm still happy I can move a lot on the court.”
In her first match since winning the Australian Open, the Chinese extended her undefeated run this season by claiming her 13th consecutive victory – a tough 6-1, 5-7, 6-2 win over Slovakian world No32 Magdalena Rybarikova, in a match that saw a total of 26 break point chances .
Li Na, who will rise to No2 in the world when the new rankings come out on Monday, making her the highest-ranked Asian in the history of the WTA, had lost her only previous meeting to Rybarikova, who defeated the Chinese to win her first career title in Birmingham in 2009.
The top seeded Li Na had a strong start, wrapping up the first set 6-1, hitting 12 winners and saving all three break points she faced.
Rybarikova, who played a lengthy three-setter against Francesca Schiavone the previous day, upped her game in the second set, capitalising on her numerous break point opportunities. Li Na kept falling behind and breaking back but Rybarikova finally took the set when her opponent sent a backhand wide.
Li Na recovered in the final set however and successfully booked herself a spot in the last 16.
On getting back on the court for the first time since Melbourne, Li Na said: “Always like exciting-nervous. Because first match always tough. Also, she played already one match, so she know how the feeling is on the court.”
Li Na remained aggressive throughout the three sets and she says it’s something she’s been trying to do more and more. “I think this is the way I improve a lot,” said Li Na, who turns 32 in two weeks.
“Getting old, you cannot stay a long time on the court. So you have to finish as quick as you can.”
Her autobiography has recently been released in English and Li Na says she is hoping it can shed some light on how much work she put into her career in order to achieve what she’s achieved.
She says her mother, who has never been to any stadium to watch her play, not even the Olympics in Beijing, finally got a chance to appreciate the work her daughter does by reading the book.
“So many people, I think especially Chinese, they think I'm not normal people. So I just want to show all of them I am normal people, because I have my goal. I just prove myself to make it,” said Li Na.
“I wish the people, if they read the book, they thought, ‘oh, she was working so hard. It's not only about luck, you know’. “And also, you know, I want they know about is not only is tennis player, is about this person, personality.
“So I really wish they can understand what I'm doing, what I do. Especially my mom. I think for my mom is a little bit special, because I think when I win the French Open and she call me, she's like ‘Oh, Li Na, you just win one tournament. Why are you in all the newspapers?
“I was like ‘Thanks, mom. You are doing a good job.’
“Because she's not interesting about any sport.
“So I don't know how to explain to her what I am doing. So at least after the book, after she saw and she say, ‘oh, my daughter was doing what she doing.’”
Li Na will take on Petra Cetkovska for a spot in the quarter-finals in Doha.