Li Na pines for Melbourne Park tormentor Clijsters
Updated: 2013-01-14 09:51
Li also has a flag-waving flock of Chinese supporters that can be relied upon to provide vocal support at the tournament, but has enjoyed a testy relationship with her fans.
She famously demanded the chair umpire tell them to stop 'coaching' her in Chinese as she crumbled in the deciding set of the 2011 final against Clijsters.
Li Na of China reacts after missing a point against Agnieska Radwanska of Poland during their women's singles semifinal match at the Sydney International tennis tournament, Jan 10, 2013. [Photo/Agencies]
A plea from a Chinese reporter for a message to Melbourne's Chinese community was simply ignored by Li, who preferred to focus on the benefits of another new coach in Justine Henin's former mentor Carlos Rodriguez.
Li has employed a merry-go-round of coaches in recent years, with her husband Jiang Shan taking on the role a couple of times after being shunted aside for higher-profile figures.
Jiang, whose coaching responsibilities included being the target of his wife's occasional tantrums and acerbic wit, remains part of 'team Li', but has been kept at arm's length in the lead-up to this year's tournament.
Rodriguez had made things simpler, said Li, who will play Kazakhstan's Sesil Karantcheva in the first round on Monday.
"I am feeling more relaxed working with him," she said. "He never gives me pressure. For him, he says, 'You never know what happens on the tennis court so just try to win the first round'."
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