Li looking forward to much-needed break
Updated: 2012-10-28 08:15
By Tang Zhe in Istanbul, Turkey (China Daily)
Chinese star rates 2012 effort better than her 2011 Grand Slam season
As another long season finally came to an end, Li Na exhaled and said she can't wait to start her holidays.
"I was already planning (the holidays) four months ago, and I am really looking forward to a vacation," Li said after losing to Victoria Azarenka 7-6, 6-3 to miss the semifinals at the year-end WTA Championships in Istanbul on Friday. "We started in the first week of January and have gone until now, so it's a really long season for me, and I really have to enjoy this break.
"I will take two weeks nothing about fitness, nothing about tennis, just enjoy life, do whatever I want to do," she said. "I mean, right now the only thing I can see is the vacation."
Though she couldn't advance beyond the group stage at her second appearance at the Championships, Li remained upbeat.
"I think I still have something positive to take away," said the 30-year-old. "At least in this tournament I played the No 1, 3 and 5 in the world, so it was a pretty good challenge."
Despite failing to shine during this year's majors, Li called 2012 a better year than 2011.
"This year was a lot better, and quite different from last year, which had so many ups and downs," Li said. "Last year was like when I was good, I could bring out tremendous surprises to people, but when I was not in form, it turned out to be extremely low.
"Though my year-end ranking is not as high as last year, I have played at a consistent level throughout the year, I am still among the top eight players in the world at the end of the year and have no injuries," Li said. "Though I was also competing for the semifinals at the Championships last year, my morale was completely different.
"So I'm really looking forward to next season," she said.
Looking back at the whole season, Li said her victory at Cincinnati had given her the confidence to be a world beater again.
"I had already made four finals before winning in Cincinnati, but had nothing to show for it, which made me feel that maybe I was not destined to be a champion any more," said Li, who experienced a 15-month title-drought after winning the French Open in May 2011.
"That (Cincinnati) victory more or less gave me the confidence that I was still able to win."
Azarenka's victory against Li helped her to secure the end-of-year world No 1 spot, making her the 11th different player to finish at the top in the past 38 years.
"If you look at the list, it's kind of difficult to believe that a little girl from Belarus is there," said the 23-year-old. "It's a really incredible achievement.
"When I started to play tennis, I had this big picture in my head that I wanted to be there. Back then it was so far away. It was pretty much like touching the sky.
"I'm here sitting kind of in the sky, so it's really an incredible feeling," she said. "Once you stop playing tennis, when you're not there, you can fully appreciate what you have done.
"This is my first year as the No 1, and, of course, I would like to stay as long as possible and not let anybody else (catch up), but we'll see how it goes," Azarenka said.
Pole Agnieszka Radwanska also reached the semis by ousting Italian Errani 6-7, 7-5, 6-4 in three hours and 29 minutes; it was the longest recorded best-of-three-set match in WTA Championships history. The previous record was set in the 2007 final when Justine Henin defeated Maria Sharapova in three hours and 24 minutes.
(China Daily 10/28/2012 page7)