Li goes one better to lift AEGON Classic crown
Originally published on: 13/06/10 23:16
Don’t throw out the formbook just yet. Top seed Li Na went one better than she did at last year’s AEGON Classic, beating No.2 seed Maria Sharapova 7-5 6-1 in the Edgbaston final.
In a repeat of their 2009 semi-final showdown, the world No.11 saw off the two-time champion at the Wimbledon warm-up event to claim her third career title.
And unlike last year Li could savour both the title and the win over her prodigious opponent, having lost to Magdalena Rybarikova in the final twelve months ago.
“Last year I beat Maria in the semifinals, and then was so excited I forgot I had another match,” Li said. “I’m excited again. If I had another match this time, I think I would probably lose that, too.”
Sharapova, bidding for her third title of the season after wins in Memphis and Strasbourg, held a 3-1 lead early in the match before Li hit back in emphatic fashion, rallying to take the first set and racing away to take the second in just 24 minutes.
With that, the 28-year-old bagged her third career title to follow on from wins in Guangzhou in 2004 and Australia’s Gold Coast in 2008, and guaranteed her return to the world’s top ten when the rankings are released tomorrow.
Li was the first Chinese woman to break into the the elite group earlier this year following her run to the Australian Open semi-finals.
Former world No.1 Sharapova was bidding for a third Edgbaston title, having first won the event in the build-up to her first Grand Slam triumph at Wimbledon in 2004.
But despite the defeat, Sharapova remained upbeat after a soggy week in the Midlands.
“I came here to get as many matches as I could, and I did,” she said. “It’s nice to win the tournament, but sometimes it doesn’t happen.”