Li Na battles her way into Rogers Cup quarters
Updated: 2013-08-09 08:01
Li Na of China hits a return to Ana Ivanovic of Serbia during their women's tennis match at day four of the Rogers Cup tennis tournament in Toronto, Aug 8, 2013. [Photo/Agencies]
TORONTO - China's Li Na secured her quarterfinals spot from a tie-break at the Rogers Cup in the Canadian city of Toronto Thursday after a hard-fought battle against Serbia's Ana Ivanovic, winning 3-6, 6-1, 7-6 (5). [More about US Open hard court season]
It was a nail-biting two hours for both Li and Ivanovic's fans, as the two matched each other point-by-point in the final set.
Ivanovic, seeded 16th at the WTA Premier 5 event, put up a good fight but ultimately lost her steam with nine double faults in the entire match.
It's the first time the pair have met since 2006 in Berlin, when Ivanovic surrendered the match due to an injury after a 6-1 win in the set.
Li, who will face the winner of the match between Slovakia's Dominika Cibulkova and Italy's Roberta Vinci, lagged behind in the first set with a series of unforced errors, ultimately losing it 6- 3.
"Before the match I was thinking it was tough match, but I was a little bit surprised, because first set she was play more aggressive," Li revealed after the match. "I was feeling even at first I didn't have time to prepare my game plan."
"Second set, I tried to hit more back to the court to see if I had chance to turn the match," she added.
But the tables turned in the second set, with Li gaining momentum as a frustrated Ivanovic in turn made a string of mistakes which cost her points. Li's strong powerful groundstrokes crushed Ivanovic in the second set, and sent a rattled Ivanovic asking her coach for advice.
"If I wait for her unforced errors to win a point, maybe she just 'boom, boom, boom,' win all the time," said Li. "Also because Carlos (Li Na's coach) is not here, but I still got email from him, so he say if I need win the match I have to think about what I should do, so I don't have to care what the opponent do.
"In the whole match I was thinking I have to hit the ball, you couldn't wait," she said.
Ana Ivanovic of Serbia returns a shot to Li Na of China during their women's tennis match at day four of the Rogers Cup tennis tournament in Toronto, Aug 8, 2013. [Photo/Agencies]
Ivanovic regained her confidence on the court in the third set, taking a 3-0 lead. But Li launches an impressive comeback as she breaks even with Ivanovic at 5-5, and then wins the set, driving the match into a tie-break.
Ivanovic, who consults with her coach for the second time, steps up her game and attempts to cease control of the court. But Li, who had dominated Russia's Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the second round by 6-1, 6-4 Wednesday, showed off her prowess on the courts once again.
"If I play a little bit soft, she will attack a lot, it doesn't mean I played bad match, I was really happy the way I play," said Li. "Today, I was play pretty good, especially in the final set when I was come back even in the tie-break."
Despite the close match, Li said she stayed calm and played the best she could. "Today even come to tie-break I didn't think of the score, maybe too focused," said Li.
Li is China's only tennis player still in the running for the Rogers Cup title, after Zheng Jie was ousted in the first round by Germany's Mona Barthel in the singles match, and then again in the second round along with her partner, India's Sania Mirza, by 6-3, 1-6, 6-10 against Georgia's Oksana Kalashnikova and Polish player Alicja Rosolska.
Li Na's run-up to US Open:
Li Na's Wimbledon achievements: