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Li Na admitted she was lacking in match practice after she bowed out of Wimbledon

Li out as Kvitova outlasts Venus

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Originally published on 27/06/14

The Australian Open champion, who did not play following her shock first-round exit at the French Open, bowed out with a 7-6(5) 7-6(5) defeat to Barbora Zahlavova Strycova on No.1 Court.

“I think I made the wrong decision,” Li admitted. “I need to play some matches before the big one. I always play Eastbourne every year, but [it’s] always rainy, windy. I say, ‘I cannot practise in that’. I made a decision. I say, ‘Oh, maybe I should change a little bit’. I came here pretty early to try to play on the grass court.”

“It’s not only about technique,” she added. “I think sometimes I don't know how to play the point, especially in the important moments. I think today I made a lot of mistakes.”

There was an unfortunate end to the match for Li, who made 37 unforced errors, and won just 47 per cent of points on her second serve. Believing she had converted match point, Zahlavova Strycova celebrated victory, only for Li to make a successful HawkEye challenge. However, the world No.2 double faulted on the subsequent point to hand the Czech her first win over a top ten player.

“I think I did great today with the mental side,” Zahlavova Strycova said. “It wasn't easy actually. The last point she challenged the match point. I thought I won the match. I didn't [realise] that she challenged it. It's really tough. You kind of won the match, but you did not.”

Playing in the fourth round of a Grand Slam for the first time, Zahlavova Strycova will meet a resurgent Caroline Wozniacki, who beat Croatian teenager Ana Konjuh 6-3 6-0. The match was closer than the scoreline suggested, and former world No.1 predicted a bright future for the 16-year-old.

“She is a very powerful player,” Wozniacki said of Konjuh, who came through qualifying and beat Marina Erakovic and Yanina Wickymayer to reach the third round. “When I was in trouble, especially in the first set, I managed to serve some good serves, make some aces. You know, she's definitely someone to look out for in the future. I think she's going to be very good. She's 16. She has some big shots. She has a good serve. I think we're going to see a lot from her in the future.”

In a high-quality encounter on Centre Court, 2011 champion Petra Kvitova came within two points of defeat against Venus Williams, but dug deep to claim a 5-7 7-6(2) 7-5 victory. The Czech hit nearly twice as many winners as her opponent (48 to 25), but her unforced error count was high too (34 to 19), as she eventually triumphed in two hours and 30 minutes.

"I really wanted to win today," said Kvitova.  "I was very nervous before the match.  I knew that she's fiveŠ—•time champion here and she loves to play on the Centre Court as well as me. It was very difficult for me mentally and everything.  I just think the mentally side I was just a little stronger than her today.  That's why I think I won it, because of that.  If you know you are playing somebody who loves to play on the grass, that she had already five titles, it's not easy.  You have respect.  You are expecting everything from her."

It was a successful day for the Czechs in the draw as Lucie Safarova and Tereza Smitkova joined Kvitova and Zahlavova in reaching the second week. Safarova defeated No.10 seed Dominika Cibulkova 6-4 6-2, while Smitkova battled for almost three hours to beat Victoria Azarenka’s conqueror Bojana Jovanovski 4-6 7-6(5) 10-8.

In matches delayed by Thursday evening’s rain, No.3 seed Simona Halep was not at her best but found a way past Lesia Tsurenko with a 6-3 4-6 6-4 victory to set up a  third-round meeting with Swiss teenager Belinda Bencic.

“I didn't play my best today,” admitted Halep.  “It was tough match.  I expected that she will play very well; she did. I believed in my chance today, but after I lost second set, I said that maybe I lose the match because I didn't feel my game. [It] wasn't my best match, but I'm really happy that I could finish well in my way.

With a 6-4 7-5 victory over Victoria Duval, 17-year-old Bencic, who won the girls’ title at Wimbledon last year, became the first Swiss woman to reach the third round since 2007.

“She played French Open final and she's the third seed here, I think,” said Bencic.  “So I'm really just happy to play her. No pressure tomorrow.  I will just play my best game.”

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Li Na admitted she was lacking in match practice after she bowed out of Wimbledon
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