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Li overcomes tough test


 

Originally published on: 27/06/13 00:00

The world No.6 looked composed as she reeled off six games in a row to beat her Romanian opponent, who started the day on an 11-match winning streak, 6-2 1-6 6-0.

After the match, Li, who lost to Elena Vesnina in the quarter-final of Eastbourne last week, admitted to letting her focus slip in the second set.

“I think I was pretty good [at the] beginning of the match,” said the former French Open champion. “But [at the] end of the first set, she called [the trainer]. I thought, maybe she [will] retire or something. I was already losing concentration on the court.

“Yeah, at one set all, [I said] wake up, she okay, she kick your ass already in the second set. So you should be ready for a final set.”

Li, who has twice reached the quarter-final at Wimbledon, was determined not to follow fellow seeds Victoria Azarenka, Caroline Wozniacki, Ana Ivanovic, Jelena Jankovic, Sorana Cirstea and Lucie Safarova in exiting the tournament before the third round.

“I would like to say, welcome to the crazy women's tennis tour,” Li said with a smile. “You know, yesterday I was feeling a little bit, I don't know, how do you say, I know this is bad, but I have to say it's worst for Wimbledon, for history, because many big stars were out of the tournament, and also so many pulled out for the injury.

“So of course, I mean, I was sad, but I really didn't want to be the next one out. So I was really prepared for what I should do on the court.”

Next up for Li is No.32 seed Klara Zakopalova of Czech Republic, and the Wuhan resident is refusing to look any further ahead in the draw.

“Well, I only win two rounds,” she said. “I didn't even see who I play in the next round. So for me I do my best just round by round.”

When asked about coping with the expectations of those back home, the 31-year-old, who is one of 12 players over the age of 30 ranked in the top 100, said pressure is something she thrives on.

“Why I should carry for whole country?” she said. “I mean, I'm only [a] tennis athlete. I [am] only tennis player. I try as best as I can on the court. I mean, this is my job.

“I like the pressure. Of course. I mean, if people were without pressure, how they can live? The pressure makes me, how you say, stronger. I can prove myself, as well.”

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