Li predicts Kvitova victory in Australian Open following draw
Updated: 2015-01-16 15:21
Tennis player Li Na (R) of China cries as she hugs Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic during a retirement ceremony at the China Open tennis tournament in Beijing September 30, 2014. [Photo/Agencies]
MELBOURNE - Reigning Australian Open champion Li Na is hoping friend Petra Kvitova can take out this year's title, following the draw on Friday.
Li, who retired in September just seven months after reaching world No.2, predicted the fourth-seeded Kvitova would play Venus Williams in the quarter-finals.
"Everyone has a chance," Li told reporters on Friday. "I wish Kvitova can win. I really like the way she plays."
The world's best female player, Serena Williams, has an easy start against Alison Van Uytvanck, the world No.106, being the last automatic entrant in the women's draw.
Shuai Peng will meet a qualifier in the first round, while Zheng Jie will have a great chance to progress to the second round after being drawn against a wildcard, Chinese Taipei's Chang Kai- Chen.
With six Chinese women in the draw and Wang Yafan a chance to qualify, Li is hopeful of a good Chinese performance.
"Chinese tennis is getting much stronger," said Li.
"The younger players playing the tournament is very exciting."
In the men's draw, Novak Djokovic meets a qualifier, while Roger Federer will potentially need to get past Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal if he's to make the final.
Defending men's champion Stanislas Wawrinka was drawn well, avoiding other top-10 players until the quarter finals.
There, he'll face Kei Nishikori, providing Japan's No.1 makes through a potential fourth-round clash against dogged-fighter David Ferrer.
Li said Chinese wildcard Zhang Ze will get a great experience from playing local hope and former world No.1, Lleyton Hewitt.
"He's still young. Not so much in age, but inexperience," Li said of the 24-year-old from Nanjing.
"He needs experience so, with a tough match, hopefully he can learn a lot."
Getting big-match experience into future Chinese stars is a passion for Li.
She will soon open a tennis academy in China, while trying to achieve a new goal: motherhood.