Li Na to face Schiavone in China Open first round

Updated: 2012-09-29 16:09


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BEIJING - China's tennis star Li Na will take on Italian veteran Francesca Schiavone in China Open first round, a repeat of the 2011 French Open final.

Li Na to face Schiavone in China Open first round

Li Na returns a shot during a practice session for China Open tennis tournament in Beijing, Sept 29, 2012. [Photo/CFP]

Li will be joined by five other home players in the main draw made on Friday as the WTA Premier Mandatory tournament will kick off its 9th edition on Saturday.

The 30-year-old Li made history by becoming the first Chinese player to win a Grand Slam singles title at last year's French Open after defeating the Italian, but has found it hard to take another WTA title for more than a year until she won at the Cincinnati Open last month.

"Last year my form was kind of like roller coaster, and I'm more consistent this season. I had a new coach after the Olympics and he has confidence in me, which helps me a lot," Li said on Friday.

Li is currently eighth in the world, and has set her sights on the season-ending WTA Championships which will be played from Oct 23 in Istanbul.

The China Open will provide another chance for Li to boost her rankings points. Australia's Samantha Stosur and Frenchwoman Marion Bartoli, ranked ninth and 10th respectively, are also with a shot at going to Istanbul.

At the ongoing Pan Pacific Open in Japan, Li lost to former number one Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark in the third round on Wednesday.

Zheng Jie and Peng Shuai, who broke away from the Chinese sports system alongside with Li at the end of 2008, are having different fortunes at the first round of the China Open, with Zheng taking on a qualifier while Peng versus rising star Yanina Wickmayer, a world number 26 player from Belgium.

Other Chinese players include Zheng Saisai, Wang Qiang and Zhang Shuai, who came into the main draw through wildcards.

Wang and Zhang will compete against each other for a ticket to the second round while the 18-year-old Zheng, the youngest player in the main draw, shall play Chinese Taipei's Hsieh Su-wei.

World number one Victoria Azarenka from Belarus and second seed Maria Sharapova of Russia were handed an easy draw, playing against Frenchwoman Alize Cornet and Romania's Simona Halep respectively in the first round.

Other favorites including eighth seed Stosur, Poland's third seed Agnieszka Radwanska, Germany's fifth seed Angelique Kerber and Russian player Nadia Petrova all enjoy bye in the first round after they reached last four at Pan Pacific Open.

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