Li Na pines for Melbourne Park tormentor Clijsters
Updated: 2013-01-14 09:51
If anyone should be popping champagne corks in the non attendance of the retired Belgian, it should be 30-year-old Li, Asia's first Grand Slam singles champion.
Li Na of China hits a return to Agnieska Radwanska of Poland during their women's singles semifinal match at the Sydney International tennis tournament Jan 10, 2013. [Photo/Agencies]
Teak-tough Clijsters denied Li her maiden major title in 2011's tense final at Rod Laver Arena, overhauling the Chinese in three sets to win her fourth and final Grand Slam.
Clijsters returned the following year to inflict further pain on Li, and despite suffering an ankle injury in their fourth-round clash, saved four match points and left her stunned opponent crying at her post-match media conference. [Related: Li squanders 4 match points in loss to Clijsters]
Li, however, said she had hoped to have a chance to exact revenge at her eighth appearance in the Australian Open singles draw.
"Why should I (be) happy? I (was) really looking forward to playing her again," Li told reporters. "I never have (another) chance to come back, so I'm not happy.
"Every time I play against her, (it's) always (a) tough match. It's a really good challenge for myself."
Without Clijsters in the draw, a majority of pundits would say the hard-hitting Li's chances of a second major title following her 2011 French Open triumph have improved.
Li loves Melbourne Park, where she and compatriot Zheng Jie became their country's first Grand Slam singles semifinalists in 2010.
"I always feel the Australian Open is more familiar," she told reporters in Mandarin.
"The staff and officials are the same every year. It's like seeing old friends again."
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