Li starts new season with big win

Updated: 2013-01-02 08:20

(China Daily)

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It's hard for anybody to walk out of their comfort zone and take new risks.

Still, Chinese tennis star, Li Na, is gaining in confidence as she adjusts her long-time playing style.

"Sometimes people are afraid to change things that they have been accustomed to for 10 or 20 years. But I am glad that I was brave enough to change some of my habits on the court," the world No 7 said after thrashing Mandy Minella of Luxembourg, 6-4, 6-0, in the first round of the Shenzhen Gemdale Open on Tuesday.

Li starts new season with big win

Li Na of China hits a backhand return on the way to defeating Mandy Minella of Luxembourg in their first round match at the WTA Shenzhen Gemdale Open on Tuesday. Wu Jun for China Daily 

Inspired by her Argentine coach, Carlos Rodriguez, the 2011 French Open champion has started to tweak her game, including changes to her serve and baseline movement, in a bid to become more consistent, despite the fact that the moves could affect her on-court rhythm.

Her new-look serve provided Li with three aces while she won 21 of 26 first-serve points and broke Minella four times in the 65-minute romp.

"I didn't know her, so I focused on playing my part well in the first set. And then I sort of found a way to contain her."

The 30-year-old spent three weeks in Beijing with Rodriguez, former mentor of seven-time Grand Slam winner Justine Henin, to boost her skills and fitness before the Shenzhen tournament.

The year-opening victory has encouraged Li to keep on adjusting her game.

"This tournament is an ideal gauge of all that winter training and I am happy that I could put that practice into effect in a real game," Li said at the post-match media conference.

"You can get better if you try new things, but you don't know how good. If you tried, maybe it doesn't work, but at least you know where the problems are and you won't regret it."

Kicking off her 2013 season at the new home tournament, Li said she was happy to be able to stay an extra week in her own country.

"We've been touring across the world all year long and it's great to have one more week staying with family and friends."


Elsewhere, China's world No 40, Peng Shuai, beat Japan's Ayumi Morita, 6-1, 6-1, to enter the quarterfinals. Youngster Zhou Yimiao stunned qualifier Jessica Pegula, 6-4, 6-2, after the lucky loser replaced No 3 seed Jelena Jankovic when the Serbian withdrew with a viral infection.