Starry Li lights the night

Updated: 2013-09-03 07:18

By Agence France-Presse in New York (China Daily)

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 Starry Li lights the night

Li Na celebrates match point against Jelena Jankovic during their third-round match at the US Open on Sunday in New York. Li will face Russia's Ekaterina Makarova in the quarterfinals. Clive Brunskill / Getty Images / AFP

China's power hitter routs Jankovic, but she'd rather shine in daytime

Li Na made a triumphant nighttime debut at the US Open on Sunday with an impressive rout of former world No 1 Jelena Jankovic that propelled the Chinese star into the quarterfinals.

But Li said she would rather play in the daytime, thank you very much.

Fifth seed Li, the 2011 French Open champion, needed just 57 minutes to dispose of ninth seed Jankovic 6-3, 6-0 and book a date in the final eight against 24th seed Ekaterina Makarova of Russia.

And she did it under the lights in the last match of the night at Arthur Ashe Stadium, where the show and entertainment aspects swirl with the tennis to produce a unique, noisy environment.

"I like the first match because after first match, you have the whole day," Li said.

"Not like the night session. For the night session you have to wait the whole day and then play in the night. But after winning the match I was feeling OK; just a little bit late."

Li got into the spirit of the night by putting on her own version of an off-Broadway show, refusing to let Serbia's Jankovic see any sign of nervousness or weakness, even though she felt both at times.

"I didn't want to show how nervous I was," Li said. "It's not all about technique; it's about body language. I don't want to show an opponent how weak I am; I want to show how strong I am."

She did that, saying after the match it might have been the best of her life - although she was also asked about such things as what she had for breakfast, to which she replied, "I can't give away my secret."

"I was really happy with the way I was playing on the court. I was trying to serve and volley and also trying to come to the net to win the points fast."

It's part of Li's strategy to make a jump from being among the top five players in the world to becoming No 1.

"If I don't change (tactics), I know I can stay in the top 10, but I want to make another level," she said.

Li's day of waiting was made more difficult because some New York cable providers didn't pick up the network that telecasts the Open to most of the US.

"Today they didn't show it on TV," Li said. "I turned on the TV, tried to see some matches, but they didn't show any."

Li was asked how many people in China might watch her play Makarova.

"Not many," she said. "Maybe a couple million."

(China Daily 09/03/2013 page24)