Li excited for Roland Garros return
Originally published on: 21/05/12 00:00
“I knew I could win a Grand Slam, but I think the French Open would have been my last choice,” the world No.7 admits. “Nobody could believe that, but it happened.”
Until last year Li admitted that she had always found clay courts “funny”. She explained: “You could hit so many shots on the court, but I would never win the point. I don’t know what happened last year. I just won the point all the time.”
She added: “Of course if you win a tournament it’s always exciting to go back there the following year. And it doesn’t matter how many years have gone past – you still have good memories for your whole life.”
Li’s clay-court build-up to Paris has arguably been better than in 2011. Last year she reached the second round in Stuttgart, where she lost to Sabine Lisicki, and the semi-finals in Madrid and Rome, where she was beaten by Petra Kvitova and Sam Stosur respectively. This year she made the quarter-finals in Stuttgart (lost to Agnieszka Radwanska) and Madrid (lost to Victoria Azarenka) before reaching the final in Rome, where she led Maria Sharapova by a set and 4-0 before losing 4-6, 6-4, 7-6.
“I’m happy with what I’m doing on the court,” Li said. “Last year I was up, down, up, down. I’m happier this year. This year I’m always staying at the same level for every tournament.”
Who does she expect to be her main challengers in Paris? “It’s really tough to say because on the women’s tour everyone is training so hard and trying to play their best tennis on the court. But I was happy that Serena [Williams] came back to the court after her injury. You can see how strong she still is on the court. Venus [Williams] has come back as well. Victoria [Azarenka] has been doing well this year and has been in the final of almost every tournament. I think everyone is tough.”