Li striving to win more majors before retirement
Updated: 2012-01-04 13:41
PERTH - Li Na has revealed her desperation to win another major championship before time is called on her career.
The French Open champion continued her individual form resurgence at the Hopman Cup on Tuesday but was unable to prevent China's 2-1 defeat by Spain in the mixed teams event.
The world number five peeled off 18 forehand winners to beat Anabel Medina Garrigues 6-3 6-1 in 77 minutes but that was as good as it got for China.
Li Na of China hits a return to Samantha Stosur of Australia during their WTA tennis championships match in Istanbul, Oct 28, 2011. [Photo/Agencies]
Spain's Fernando Verdasco made light work of the lowest-ranked player in the tournament, world number 424 Wu Di, cruising through 6-3 6-4 as third-seed and undefeated Spain moved closer to a place in Saturday's final.
Wu also struggled in the deciding mixed doubles and Spain won 6-0 6-2.
Li's ball striking and court movement have been impeccable in consecutive singles wins at the event thanks to an intensive four-week training camp in Munich during the off-season.
The 29-year-old, however, said she could hear the clock ticking on her career and wanted to be perfectly prepared for the Australian Open at Melbourne Park from Jan. 16.
"I am not young any more and I do not have time to waste," Li told reporters.
"I have to focus every second of every tournament I play to make the most of the time I have left. That is why I stayed in Munich for so long... to get my body healthy and strong," she added.
"This is a good warm-up but Australian Open will be very different. It's hot, it's outside, everybody will be fighting on the court.
"In Munich, I had four weeks of no interviews, no photos shoots, only tennis training.
"It was tough, six hours of training a day, two or three hours on the court but mostly it was for fitness because I want to be healthy for a whole season. I have had knee and back injuries and I don't want that again."
Li denied she had any immediate retirement plans.
"At the moment my body feels fit so I can't think about how many years until I retire," she added.
"One day I might wake up and say 'I'm tired, I don't want to do this any more.' Then I will stop. But now I can think I can play as well as the first half of 2011. Maybe in 2012, I play even better."
Verdasco was merciless in the singles and ruthless in the mixed doubles against the overawed Wu and his female partner.
"It is really hard to return a man's serve," Li said.
"I mean, really hard. Today I couldn't pick up one ball. I was like, 'what am I even doing here?'
"He (Verdasco) hit aces just about every time. I asked Wu Di 'what am I supposed to be doing? How do I play this?' It's just totally different, but good practice for the women players."
The night session at the Burswood Dome will feature Australia's Lleyton Hewitt and Jarmila Gajdosova against the second-seed French combination of Richard Gasquet and Marion Bartoli.