Template:Chinese-name Template:Stack begin Template:Infobox tennis biography Template:Infobox Chinese Template:Stack end Li Na (Template:Zh;[note 1] born February 26, 1982) is a Chinese professional tennis player. Li has won 6 WTA and 19 ITF singles titles. Li won the 2011 French Open singles title, becoming the first player from China to win a Grand Slam in singles; she had already reached the final of the 2011 Australian Open, the first player from an Asian country to appear in a Grand Slam singles final.[note 2] She is currently ranked world no. 7 and is the top-ranked Chinese player, out of 3 in the top-100.
Personal life Edit
Li Na was born on February 26, 1982, in Wuhan, Hubei, China. Her father Li Shengpeng (李盛鹏) was a professional badminton player and later worked as a sales rep for a Wuhan based company. He died from a rare cardiovascular disease when Li Na was 14.
At age six, Li Na started playing badminton, following her father's footsteps. Just before she turned eight, Li made the transition from badminton to tennis when she and her parents were convinced by coach Xia Xiyao of the Wuhan youth tennis club that this would be the right career move for her. Li joined China's National Tennis Team in 1997 and turned professional in 1999.
At the end of 2002, Li left the national tennis team to study part-time at Huazhong University of Science and Technology, where she completed her bachelor's degree in journalism in 2009. The Chinese media cited various reasons for this. Some reported that the relationship between her and her teammate, future husband Jiang Shan (姜山), was opposed by the national team's management, some reported that her coach Yu Liqiao (余丽桥) was too strict and demanding, while other reports claimed that her request for a personal coach did not go through.
However, Li returned to the national team in 2004. Jiang Shan married Li and became her personal coach in 2006. Li quit the national team as well as the state-run sports system in 2008 under an experimental reform policy for tennis players. This change was called "Fly Alone" (单飞) by Chinese media. As a result Li had the freedom to pick her own coaching staff and she could keep more of her winnings. Only 8 to 12 percent of her winnings go to the government as opposed to 65 percent previously.
Template:BLP sources section Template:Overly detailed Between 1999 and 2004, Li won 20 women's singles titles: 19 ITF events and one—the first ever won by a Chinese woman—on the WTA Tour. In January 2008, she won her second WTA Tour title after a drought of over three and a quarter years.
Li also frequently enters doubles tournaments at events alongside singles, and has won two WTA doubles titles and 16 further ITF doubles events. Her early success in doubles came mostly with Li Ting (unrelated); but more recently she has made a habit of forming temporary women's doubles partnerships with players with whom she has previously enjoyed a healthy rivalry through repeated head-to-head meetings in singles tournaments, notably Liu Nan-Nan, Nicole Pratt, Yan Zi, Jelena Janković, and Peng Shuai.
Her career has been plagued by injuries and other troubles that have prevented her from playing for lengthy periods. She suffered a two-year hiatus from competition in her early 20s, lost several months at the height of the 2005 season to an ankle injury, and lost the second half of 2007 to a rib injury.
Li turned professional in 1999, and that year won three of the very first four singles tournaments she entered on the ITF Circuit, two at Shenzhen and one at Westende, Belgium. She also won all of her first seven ITF doubles tournaments she entered.
In 2000, she won a total of 52 singles matches on the ITF circuit, more than any other player, notching another eight tournament titles including one at $50,000 level, two at $25,000, and an unbroken run of four successive $10,000 tournament wins in March and April.
In June, after Li's world ranking had risen to no. 136 on the strength of her ITF performances alone, she gained direct entry into her first WTA Tour event at Tashkent. Despite winning the first set, Li lost her first WTA singles match to Anna Zaporozhanova in three sets, but she captured the women's doubles title at Tashkent with Li Ting against Zaporozhanova and Iroda Tulyaganova.
By the end of 2000, Li had won four WTA singles matches, this brought her cumulative ITF singles title count up to 11. That year, she also won seven more ITF doubles events, 6 of them with Li Ting.
Li was mostly absent from the tour in 2001. She won two further $25,000 ITF singles tournaments, defeating Roberta Vinci in the final at Ho Chi Min City, Vietnam, and Liu Nan-Nan in the final at Guangzhou in July, but then played only one further match for the rest of the year, leading her ranking to fall to no. 303 by the year's close.
She won her 15th career ITF doubles tournament at Hangzhou in March.
In 2002, she came through qualifying to win her first $75,000 singles tournament at Midland, USA in February, defeating Laura Granville, Tatiana Perebiynis, and Mashona Washington en route to the title, the 14th of her career. But she then played only one more match (a loss to Zuzana Ondrášková in the $50,000 event at Dinan, France that April), followed by a lengthy absence from the circuit for the next 25 months.
Sources vary as to the causes of this absence, the Chinese media mostly cited the conflict between her and the China's National Tennis Team's administration and coaching staff. Some claimed that she just wanted a break from professional tennis so she could concentrate on her studies at the university.
In May 2004, she returned to the circuit unranked, and won 26 successive matches to notch three further $25,000 tournament wins and another $50,000 title, increasing her career singles title count to 18, only to have her winning streak finally snapped by Evgenia Linetskaya in the semifinal of the $50,000 Bronx tournament that August. However, she won her 16th ITF doubles tournament at the same event, the 17th overall doubles title of her career.
That September, she lost in the final of a $25,000 tournament to compatriot Zheng Jie, before returning to the WTA circuit, thanks to a wildcard entry into qualifying at the Beijing. There, she defeated Antonella Serra Zanetti, Marta Domachowska, and Nicole Pratt before losing in the deciding-set tie-break after a very close second-round main-draw tussle against newly crowned US Open Champion Svetlana Kuznetsova, during which she held match points against Kuznetsova. The Russian afterwards praised her Chinese opponent, stating that she had felt as though she was up against a top-5 player.
The very next week, Li battled her way through qualifying into the WTA event at Guangzhou (a Tier IV event at the time, though since up-graded to Tier III), then beat Vera Dushevina, Jelena Janković, Kristina Brandi, and Li Ting in the main draw to reach the final, where she overcame Martina Suchá to claim her first WTA Tour title. In so doing, she became the first Chinese woman to win a WTA event.
On the back of the ranking points accrued through this result, on October 4, 2004, she broke into the WTA top 100 for the first time.
To cap off her most successful year as a singles player yet, she competed in two $50,000 ITF tournaments at Shenzhen, winning the first outright to bring her the 19th ITF singles title and 20th overall singles title of her career, but losing in the quarterfinals of the second to lower-ranked country-woman Yan Zi. These results elevated Li Na to world no. 80 by the close of the year, a year in which she won 51 singles matches and lost just four.
2005 saw Li finally abandoning the ITF circuit to focus solely on WTA-level events.
She began the year with a second-round performance at Gold Coast and a semifinal showing at Hobart, but losing to fellow Chinese player and eventual tournament champion Zheng Jie. She then reached the third round of the Australian Open, where she defeated Laura Granville and Shinobu Asagoe before losing to Maria Sharapova.
In early February, she reached the quarterfinals at Hyderabad and qualified for Doha where she was narrowly beaten by Patty Schnyder in the first round of the main draw. After a victory over Ai Sugiyama in the first round at Dubai the following week, it was Schnyder once again who stopped her from reaching the later stages of the event.
After taking a month off from competition, Li returned at Estoril in late April, defeating Stéphanie Cohen-Aloro, Nicole Pratt, Dally Randriantefy, and then crushing Dinara Safina to reach her second WTA Tour final. Li was denied the title by Czech qualifier Lucie Šafářová, who prevailed in a close three-set match.
At Rabat in May, Li reached the semifinal stage, but further success ultimately proved elusive for her. With the score leveled at 3–3, she retired due to a right ankle sprain while clashing with Zheng Jie. Reaching this semifinal propelled her to a career-high world ranking of no. 33, but the injury she had sustained was destined to keep her out of action for the next three months.
On her return at Los Angeles in August, she fell in the first round to Anna Chakvetadze of Russia. The following week, however, at the Canadian Open, she once more beat Jelena Janković and María Vento-Kabchi, before losing to Nadia Petrova at the quarterfinal stage.
It was Lindsay Davenport who proved her undoing in her next two tournaments, beating her in the first round of the US Open, and at the semifinal stage in Bali in September, but not before Li Na had avenged her previous year's defeat by Yan Zi in the second round of the same tournament.
The following week, another highly ranked American player, Jill Craybas, narrowly defeated Li Na in a close three-set first-round match at Beijing.
On September 26, Li Na commenced her defence of her Guangzhou title; but she was prevented from completing it in the quarterfinals by eventual champion Yan Zi, who thereby edged out in front in their head-to-head record once again. This second loss in three head-to-heads against Yan proved to be Li's last match of 2005; and in her absence from the Shenzhen $50,000 tournaments where she had notched up some ranking points late the previous year, she found herself slipping further in the rankings from the high-point of no. 33 that she had reached in the spring before her injury break, to no. 56 at the year's close.
With nearly all her remaining ranking points to defend concentrated in a little over the first four months of the year, Li Na began the year faced with the challenge of equalling her strong results from the early part of 2005 in order to maintain her position in the middle reaches of the WTA top 100.
Early-round draws against high-ranked players towards the beginning of 2006 took a heavy toll on Li's singles ranking, bringing it slipping down to no. 71 by the end of February.
She returned with a career-best performance at Tier I events by reaching the semifinal at Berlin. On the way there, she achieved her first victory over a current top-10-ranked player as she ousted Patty Schnyder for the first time at the quarterfinal stage. However, this match left her with a muscle sprain, and she lost to Nadia Petrova in the semifinal. Nonetheless, her performance at this high-level tournament saw her ranked no. 39.
Joining the WTA grass-court season for the first time at the DFS Classic tournament at Birmingham in June, she managed another third-round finish with wins over Mashona Washington and grass-court specialist Eleni Daniilidou, both in straight sets, then lost for the third time in three meetings to Maria Sharapova. Her ranking following this tournament was no. 30, which was at that time the highest ever ranking achieved by a Chinese woman.
At the same event, partnering Jelena Janković, she notched up her second career WTA doubles title, almost exactly six years from her first at Tashkent.
An early retirement against Alona Bondarenko in the first round of the Ondina Open at Hertogenbosch the following week curtailed her final competitive preparations for her debut appearance at Wimbledon. But with an entry ranking of 30th, she found herself seeded 27th after some withdrawals, and thus achieved another first for her country in becoming the first Chinese woman ever to be seeded for entry into a Grand Slam tournament.
At Wimbledon, she reached the fourth round with comfortable straight-sets wins over respected grass-court players Virginie Razzano and recent Birmingham semifinalist Meilen Tu, followed by victory against 10th seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova, resulting in her being the first Chinese player ever to reach any Grand Slam quarterfinal. Li rose to a new career high WTA ranking of no. 20 following the tournament, even though she ultimately lost her quarterfinal match against Kim Clijsters in two close sets.
She reached the quarterfinals at Stockholm, and the fourth round at the US Open, where, as the 24th seed, she was beaten by eventual champion Maria Sharapova in two sets. She then reached the quarterfinals at the China Open, where she was beaten by Svetlana Kuznetsova, and in Guangzhou.
Li Na started the year by participating a Tier III event in Gold Coast, Australia, where she reached the second round. The next week, she competed in Sydney. She defeated Francesca Schiavone in the first round, Elena Dementieva in the second, saving five match points, and Katarina Srebotnik in the quarterfinal. Then, she made it to the semifinals, losing a tough match to Kim Clijsters, 5–7 in the third set. However, she rose to a career high of no.16 afterwards.
Li Na followed her strong showing at the Medibank tournament with an equally strong showing at the 2007 Australian Open, where she advanced to the fourth round. Seeded 19th, Li dispatched Elena Bovina and Lourdes Domínguez Lino in straight sets through the first two rounds, leading to a matchup with no. 9 Dinara Safina. The match was postponed due to rain, but Li handedly beat Safina to advance to the fourth round to play Swiss star, no. 6 Martina Hingis. Due to a rain delay and the fact that Hingis played on Rod Laver Arena, a roofed court, on the originally scheduled day, Hingis had an extra day of rest. The match the previous day seemed to have no effect, as Li took the first set from Hingis. However, Na faded as the match went on and lost while committing 69 unforced errors. Despite the loss, the tournament was a success for Na, as it marked the third straight time in a Grand Slam that she advanced at least to the fourth round.
At the important Pacific Life Open in Indian Wells, California, Li made a strong showing, advancing to the semifinals. She lost to Daniela Hantuchová in the semifinal. She continued her good form at the Miami Masters, losing just three games in her first two matches against Tamira Paszek and Katarina Srebotnik, before stunning fourth-seeded Kim Clijsters in three sets. She then lost in the quarterfinals to Anna Chakvetadze.
She then moved onto the green clay of Amelia Island, where she suffered a shock second-round exit, after receiving a first round bye, to former top-20 player Karolina Šprem in straight sets. At the Family Circle Cup held in Charleston, South Carolina, she fell in the third round to Anabel Medina Garrigues.
After losing in a grass tune-up event in Birmingham, Li pulled out of every tournament she was to play in the summer, including Wimbledon and the US Open, citing a rib injury.
Li Na had not played a professional match in half a year and had resultantly slipped to no. 29 in the WTA rankings when she returned from her rib injury in January 2008 to compete at the 2008 Mondial Australian Women's Hardcourts in Gold Coast, Australia. In the first round, she narrowly defeated seventh seed Sybille Bammer. After a comfortable second round victory over wildcard Monique Adamczak, she was drawn to meet the top seed Nicole Vaidišová in the quarterfinals. Li won their encounter in straight sets, advancing to the semifinals, where she edged past Patty Schnyder. In the final, she narrowly prevailed against Victoria Azarenka, to score her first singles title since Guangzhou in 2004 and the second WTA singles title in her overall career.
Despite rising back up to world no. 24 following this victory, she then withdrew from the 2008 Medibank International in Sydney, after suffering a right knee injury. Her failure to defend her previous year's semifinal performance at this event cost her 125 ranking points, which dipped her ranking back down to no. 30 for the week beginning 14 January.
Going into the 2008 Australian Open, she had a further 140 ranking points to defend from her fourth-round performance in 2007. Faced with a relatively lenient draw in the early rounds, she survived a close three-set tussle with Séverine Brémond in the first round, before surpassing Maria Elena Camerin in straight sets in round two. A revitalised Marta Domachowska remained between her and the defence of her ranking points, and although Li Na won the first set convincingly, she faltered thereafter and finally ceded the match to her Polish opponent by a single break of serve in the closely fought deciding set.
Having slipped three places to world no. 33 by the time she entered the Tier II tournament at Antwerp in early February, she nonetheless progressed to the semifinals with back-to-back-to-back straight-sets wins over Russian veteran Elena Likhovtseva, Slovak world no. 45 Dominika Cibulková, and on-form Swedish world no. 66 Sofia Arvidsson. However, she withered in the semifinals against world no. 47 Karin Knapp, despite having taken an early lead with a break of service in the first set, ultimately ceding the match to her Italian opponent in two sets. This tournament brought her back up within the top 30 at world no. 29.
The next week in the Tier I 2008 Qatar Total Open, Li met Likhovtseva again in the first round. This time, after taking the first set comfortably, she was challenged to a much tougher battle, but eventually won in three sets. In round 2, she scored her second straight-sets victory in four career head-to-heads against Russian world no. 6 Anna Chakvetadze (whom she had last beaten at the French Open in 2005), saving a set point in the first set tie-break, before recovering to win. In the third round, she enjoyed a more comfortable victory over Israeli world no. 17 Shahar Pe'er, recovering from a 1–3 deficit in the second set. In the quarterfinals, she met her old rival and friend world no. 4 Jelena Janković, coming into the match with a winning 3–1 head-to-head record to her credit against the Serbian player. By defeating Janković she extended this record to 4:1 and moved into the semifinals, where she played Vera Zvonareva, against whom she had won both of her previous encounters. Despite taking the first set, Li lost the second by the same scoreline; and although she was 3–2 up in the final set, she then ceded four successive games to her opponent to lose the match.
Her ranking having risen back to no. 23 on the strength of this performance, she was prevented from consolidating on this recovery by suffering a right knee injury, which forced her to pull out of her scheduled entries into both the Tier II event at Bangalore in early March and the Tier I tournament at Indian Wells in the middle of the month. She returned to action at the International Women's Open in Eastbourne, winning one round before losing to Nadia Petrova. She then contested Wimbledon, defeating Anastasia Rodionova before losing to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
At the Beijing Olympics, following early-round victories against world no. 3 Svetlana Kuznetsova, Ayumi Morita, and Kaia Kanepi, she went on to defeat one of the favourites, Venus Williams, in the quarterfinals. Li was trailing 1–4 in the first set, but managed to strengthen her game to win in straight sets. Li lost her semifinal match to sixth seed Dinara Safina and was then defeated in the bronze final by Vera Zvonareva. At the following US Open, Li was defeated by the Beijing Olympics gold medalist Elena Dementieva in the fourth round.
In the 2008 Porsche Grand Prix, the unseeded Li defeated no. 1 ranked Serena Williams in the second round in three sets. Li thus became only the second Chinese player to defeat a world no. 1 player, following Zheng Jie's victory over Ana Ivanovic at Wimbledon in 2008.
Li withdrew from both the inaugural Brisbane International, where she was defending champion (as she won the title at Gold Coast in 2008), and the Australian Open because of a right-knee injury. She made her comeback at the Paris Open. In the first round, she beat Ágnes Szávay, but in the second round she lost to second-seeded Jelena Janković.
Unseeded at the Monterrey Open, she defeated world no. 10 and top seed Agnieszka Radwańska in a first round match that lasted over two hours. In the second round, she beat Petra Cetkovská and then advanced to the semifinals after defeating Lucie Šafářová. Li then moved into her fifth career tour final, after beating sixth-seeded Iveta Benešová. However, Li lost to second-seeded Marion Bartoli in the final in straight sets.
Li then played in the Premier event at Indian Wells, where she defeated Tamarine Tanasugarn, Patty Schnyder, and Amélie Mauresmo, all in straight sets, to advance to the fourth round, where she lost to eventual champion Vera Zvonareva.
She then reached the quarterfinals of the Premier event in Miami, where she beat qualifier Urszula Radwańska in the first round and upset 29th seed Aleksandra Wozniak to reach the third round, where she caused a big upset by defeating the previous week's Indian Wells champion, 6th-seeded Vera Zvonareva in three sets. This victory was particularly important for Li, as she had been beaten by Zvonareva the week before at Indian Wells. She then faced unseeded Russian Ekaterina Makarova in the fourth round and beat her in three sets to set up a quarterfinal match with the top seed and world no. 1 Serena Williams, a match which she lost in a tight three-setter. Because of her strong performance, her ranking went up to world no. 29 from world no. 40.
Na's next event was the second Grand Slam of the year, the French Open in Paris. As the 25th seed, she won her first round against Polish Marta Domachowska. She then defeated Timea Bacsinszky and Olga Govortsova. She then lost to unseeded, former world no. 1 Maria Sharapova in the fourth round. After this impressive result, she jumped six rankings up to no. 20.
She started her grass-court season as the fourth seed at the AEGON Classic in Birmingham and advanced to the final with a win over Maria Sharapova in the semifinals. However, Na was defeated by Magdaléna Rybáriková in the final.
Na was seeded 19th at the 2009 Wimbledon Championships. She defeated Galina Voskoboeva in the first round and Olga Govortsova in the second round, but lost to no. 11 Agnieszka Radwańska in the third round.
At the 2009 Bank of the West Classic, she lost to Serena Williams in the first round, and at the 2009 LA Women's Tennis Championships p/b Herbalife, she withdrew due to injury during her match with Urszula Radwańska of Poland.
Seeded 18th at the 2009 US Open, she reached her first US Open quarterfinals, where she lost to Kim Clijsters. En route to the quarterfinals, she defeated Ioana Raluca Olaru, Michelle Larcher de Brito, Maria Kirilenko, and Francesca Schiavone all in straight sets.
Seeded 15th at the Toray Pan Pacific Open, Li Na won her opening match against Alizé Cornet. She then defeated Vera Dushevina before beating Kateryna Bondarenko. In the quarterfinal, she defeated Victoria Azarenka in three sets, two of which were tiebreaks where though she failed in serving for the match twice in the last set. Li lost in the semifinals to Jelena Janković.
Li finished the year at world no. 15, her career-high year-end ranking.
Li's first tournament of 2010 was the 2010 ASB Classic in Auckland, where she was seeded second. She was defeated by Kaia Kanepi in the first round. In the Medibank International, she defeated fourth seed Caroline Wozniacki but lost to Flavia Pennetta in the second round.
Li was seeded 16th at the 2010 Australian Open. She defeated world no. 4 Caroline Wozniacki in the fourth round and then came from a set and 3–5 down to defeat world no. 6 Venus Williams, in her first Australian Open quarterfinal and only her third Major quarterfinal. In the semifinals, she lost to Serena Williams in two tiebreaks. As a result of this performance, Li was the first Chinese woman ever to be ranked in the top 10 of women's professional tennis.
At the Barclays Dubai Tennis Championships, Li, the eighth seed, defeated María José Martínez Sánchez in the second round. She then came from a 6–3 5–2 deficit to defeat Marion Bartoli in the third round. Li was forced to retire in her quarterfinals match against Shahar Pe'er.
Li continued her season at the inaugural Malaysian Open. As second seed, she fell to Tatjana Malek in the first round. As seventh seed at the 2010 BNP Paribas Open, Li fell to Elena Baltacha in the second round. Li was 8th seed at the 2010 Sony Ericsson Open, but fell to Timea Bacsinszky in the second round.
At the 2010 Porsche Tennis Grand Prix, Li defeated defending champion Svetlana Kuznetsova in the second round, before falling to eventual runner-up Sam Stosur in the quarterfinals. Li was 11th seed at the 2010 French Open. She fell to eventual champion and world no. 17 Francesca Schiavone in the third round.
Li was seeded first at the 2010 AEGON Classic. She defeated 4th seed Aravane Rezaï in the semifinals, and 2nd seeded Maria Sharapova in the final to win the tournament. With the win, Li returned to the top 10 in the WTA rankings.
Li was seeded ninth at Wimbledon. She defeated seventh seed Agnieszka Radwańska to advance to the quarterfinals at Wimbledon for the second time in her career, where she lost to world no. 1 and defending champion Serena Williams. By going into the last eight, Li once again returned to the top 10 in the WTA rankings. At the 2010 US Open, she started off as the eighth seed, but suffered an upset to Kateryna Bondarenko.
Li played in 2011 Medibank International Sydney as the eighth seed, making fast work of Australian wildcard Anastasia Rodionova and winning a tough three-set match against Virginie Razzano in the first two rounds. In the quarterfinals she met two-time Grand Slam winner Svetlana Kuznetsova and came through with a win. She defeated surprise qualifier Bojana Jovanovski in the semifinals to advance to her eighth WTA final. Li faced world no. 3 Kim Clijsters in the final, and despite trailing 5–0 in the first set, Li went on to defeat Clijsters, capturing the fourth WTA title of her career.
Li was the ninth seed at the 2011 Australian Open, where she reached her first Grand Slam singles final. On her way there, she ousted the eighth seed Victoria Azarenka in straight sets. She then defeated world no. 1 Caroline Wozniacki in the semifinals to reach her first Grand Slam final, after saving a match point in the second set. She became the first Chinese player to reach a Grand Slam singles final, facing no. 3 seed Kim Clijsters (whom she had defeated at the Medibank International). Although Li claimed the first set, Clijsters was able to rally back and claim the championship. Despite the loss, Li's ranking rose to a career high of world no. 7.Template:Citation needed
Despite a good early start to the season, Li then had a five-match losing streak. She lost in the first round of 2011 Dubai Tennis Championships and 2011 Qatar Ladies Open. After a receiving bye in the first round, she lost in the second round of the 2011 BNP Paribas Open. Despite this, after Indian Wells she reached a career-high ranking of world no. 6 due to Jelena Janković's failures to defend her points.Template:Citation needed
Li's losing streak then continued, when she was upset in the 2011 Sony Ericsson Open by Swede Johanna Larsson. With this loss, and Andy Murray's loss at Miami, both Australian Open finalists had yet to win a match since their first major final. Despite Li's successive losses, her no. 6 ranking was ensured due to Samantha Stosur's inability to defend her clay-season points. After a week, she fell back to no. 7. Li then broke her losing streak by winning her first-round match against Anastasija Sevastova in Stuttgart. However, she subsequently lost to Sabine Lisicki in the second round. Even though she was not able to defend all her Stuttgart ranking points, she rose back to no. 6, with Samantha Stosur's inability to defend her own Stuttgart points. However, due to her disappointing results, Li Na sacked her husband as coach and hired Dane Michael Mortensen.Template:Citation needed
She entered the 2011 Mutua Madrid Open as sixth seed. In the first two rounds, she defeated María José Martínez Sánchez and Iveta Benešová without much difficulty. In the third round, she defeated Roberta Vinci coming back from a set deficit. She defeated Bethanie Mattek-Sands coming back from a break down in the deciding set. This victory marked her the first semifinals appearance in Madrid, where she eventually lost to Petra Kvitová.
Li's resurgence continued in 2011 Internazionali BNL d'Italia. Seeded fourth, she received a bye in the first round. She won her opening match against Lourdes Domínguez Lino. She defeated Jarmila Gajdošová and Gréta Arn in the next two rounds en route to back-to-back semifinals on clay court. However, she lost to Samantha Stosur in two sets.
Li won her first Major title and become the first Grand Slam singles champion born in an Asian country at the 2011 French Open on June 4. Seeded sixth, she defeated Barbora Záhlavová-Strýcová, Silvia Soler Espinosa, Sorana Cîrstea, ninth seed Petra Kvitová, fourth seed Victoria Azarenka, seventh seed Maria Sharapova, and fifth seed and defending champion Francesca Schiavone in the final. After the match, Li Na was praised by the Chinese media, and her popularity throughout China was expected to grow significantly in the coming months, as she became the first Chinese singles player, male or female, ever to win a tennis Grand Slam title. Following the French Open, Li reached a career high ranking of World No. 4.
Due to the withdrawal of Kim Clijsters, Li was the third seed at Wimbledon. She beat Alla Kudryavtseva in the first round. She lost in the second round to eventual semifinalist Sabine Lisicki of Germany even though she had two match points at 5–3 and served for the match twice at 5–4 and 6–5.
Then at the 2011 China Open, Li suffered a humiliating first round thrashing by Romanian player Monica Niculescu. However, as a result of Vera Zvonareva and Samantha Stosur's inability to go past the third round, she was able to qualify for the 2011 WTA Tour Championships for the first time in her career.
Li was placed in the White Group at the 2011 WTA Tour Championships in Istanbul, Turkey with Maria Sharapova, Victoria Azarenka and Samantha Stosur. She beat Sharapova in her opening match but lost the other two matches, failing to make the semifinals.
Li Na lost two awards in final round for "Annual Breakthrough Award" to Blake Griffin and "Annual Award for best female tennis players" to Serena Williams conducted and honoured by ESPY Sports Award.
Li started her 2012 season in the 2012 Hopman Cup, where she won all three single rubbers against Marion Bartoli, Anabel Medina Garrigues and Jarmila Gajdosova. Her match with Marion Bartoli was a seesaw battle in which saw Li come out as the winner in the final set, after recovering from a service break to close out the match. Li then faced Anabel Medina Garrigues in the next round, finally prevailing over the Spaniard in two sets. This was Li's first win over the Spaniard in four meetings (Li lost in all three previous meetings). The Chinese player's performance in the 2012 Hopman Cup also saw her return to her lethal form after being plagued by losses and early round exits in almost all her tournaments (except New Haven, where she was able to reach the semifinals) during the second half of 2011.
Li then played in the Sydney to defend her title. She defeated Ekaterina Makarova, Chanelle Scheepers and -Lucie Šafářová to reach the semifinals. In the semifinal, she came back from one set down to defeat Petra Kvitová, the favorite to win the tournament, to advance to the final for the second consecutive year. Had Kvitova won, she would have replaced Caroline Wozniacki as the new world no. 1. In the final, Li failed to defend her title, losing the match to Victoria Azarenka in three sets.
Li began her Australian Open campaign by cruising through the early rounds of the tournament, handily defeating Ksenia Pervak, Olivia Rogowska, and Anabel Medina Garrigues (after Garrigues retired due to an injured ankle sustained during the match), en route to meeting her 2011 Australian Open conqueror Kim Clijsters in the fourth round. Kim Clijsters rolled her ankle at 3–3 and Li took the first set comfortably. Li held four match points at 6–2 in the second set tiebreak, but dropped six consecutive points to give Clijsters the second set due to unforced errors and poor shot selection. At 1–5 in the final set, Li began a resurgence and was able to close the gap to 4–5, but the Belgian managed to close out the match.
After the disappointing turnout of her Australian Open campaign, Li participated in the 2012 Fed Cup and won all three of her matches on home soil. She defeated Kei-Chen Changand and Nigina Abduraimova during the round robin stages to push China to the promotional play-offs against Kazakstan. She next played Galina Voskoboeva, who proved a little tougher to crack but eventually surrendered to the French Open champion in three sets. This win sealed the tie and secured China's spot in the World Group II play-offs.
Li then flew to Paris to contest the Open GDF Suez trophy in the indoor carpeted courts of the French capital, but retired against Tsvetana Pironkova in the first round of the tournament due to a back injury she sustained during her Fed Cup matches.
At the 2012 BNP Paribas Open, Li got a first round bye and faced a rematch with Galina Voskoboeva in the second round, where the Chinese again emerged victorious in three sets. Li then faced fellow countrywoman Zheng Jie, whom she had not had any wins against in five career meetings. Li changed that record scoring her first win over Zheng in two easy sets. Next came Klara Zakopalova who was on a roll, upsetting Vera Zvonareva and Daniela Hantuchova en route to meeting with Li in the fourth round. The Chinese comfortably brushed aside Zakopalova's challenge booking a place in the quarterfinals where she faced Angelique Kerber of Germany. Li lost in two sets.
At the 2012 Sony Ericsson Open after receiving a first round bye, Li rolled past Melinda Czink, Iveta Benesova, and Sabine Lisicki to secure a spot in the quarterfinals. Li's win over Lisicki avenged her bitter loss to the big serving German in the previous year's second round of the Wimbledon Championships. Li then lost to world no. 2 Maria Sharapova in the quarterfinals. This marked the first time Li lost to Sharapova in their last four meetings, where the Chinese beat the Russian all in straight sets.
Li reached the final of the Italian Open, defeating Iveta Benesova, Chanelle Scheepers, Dominika Cibulkova and Serena Williams in the process. In the final she lost to Maria Sharapova in three tough sets after failing to convert a match point in the second set.
Li was seeded 7th at the 2012 French Open, where she was the defending champion. She began her title defence by defeating Sorana Cirstea, Stephanie Foretz Gacon and Christina Mchale in the first, second and third rounds respectively before suffering a shocking fourth round defeat to Kazakhstani qualifier Yaroslava Shvedova.
Li Na lost to Sorana Cirstea in the second round of Wimbledon – her first loss against the Romanian.
At the 2012 London Olympics, Li, seeded 10th, was eleminated in the first round by Slovak Daniela Hantuchova despite China's high hopes of her claiming a medal. Her poor performance caused her to drop out of the world's top ten following the conclusion of the Games.
After a disappointing Olympic campaign, Li announced that she and Carlos Rodriguez, coach of former world no. 1 and seven-time major winner Justine Henin, have commenced a coaching relationship.
The next tournament that Li played was the 2012 Rogers Cup, at which she reached the final. She received a first round bye before seeing off home crowd favourite Eugenie Bouchard in the second round with ease. In the third round, she upset world no. 9 Sara Errani and ended the hopes of Agnieszka Radwańska rising to no. 1 in the rankings by beating her in the quarterfinals. In the semifinals, Li came back from a 5–1 deficit in the third set to defeat Lucie Šafářová. Li Na lost to Petra Kvitová in the final. After her impressive performance at the tournament, she moved back into the world's top ten at world no. 9.
At the 2012 Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, Li had a first round bye before beating Sorana Cirstea in the second round, avenging her loss to the Romanian in the second round of the 2012 Wimbledon Championships. In the third round Li proved to be too good for Johanna Larsson and in the quaterfinals she defeated world no. 3 and top seed Agnieszka Radwanska in a match where Li only surrended 2 games. She then beat Venus Williams in the semifinal (bringing their head to head to 3–0), before defeating fifth seed Angelique Kerber in the final; her 5th win against Kerber in 6 matches. This was her first title since her historic win at last year's French Open and her sixth WTA title in her career. By winning this tournament, she moved up one place in the rankings to world no. 8.
At the 2012 US Open Li cruised through the first two rounds with easy wins over Great Britain's Heather Watson and Australia's Casey Dellaqua. However, in the third round she was upset in three sets by rising British teenager Laura Robson, who had defeated 3-time champion Kim Clijsters in the previous round. Her result meant that this was the first season since 2008 where she had not reached the quarterfinal stage in any one of the Grand Slam tournaments.
Li then travelled to Tokyo to participate in the 2012 Toray Pan Pacific Open, despite tensions between Beijing and Tokyo. She received a bye in the first round, and won her second round match against Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova to book a meeting with former world no. 1 Caroline Wozniacki in the third round. She won the first set, but eventually went on to lose the match, even though Wozniacki finished the match with only 6 winners. Her early exit from the tournament means that her chances of participating in the upcoming 2012 WTA Tour Championships will be determined by her performance at the following week's 2012 China Open.
At the 2012 China Open, Li won a first round clash against Francesca Schiavone, who she defeated in the final of last year's French Open to claim her first Grand Slam title. In the second round she found herself locked in a battle against 14th-ranked Russian Nadia Petrova, who recently won her 12th career title at the 2012 Toray Pan Pacific Open. Li had never won any matches against Petrova in 6 career meetings. She however changed this record with a commanding straight sets victory; Petrova falling victim to Li's cracking onslaught. She next played compatriot Peng Shuai in the third round for a place in the quarters. She emerged victorious in a topsy-turvy three set match which lasted 2 hours and 28 minutes. In the quarterfinals she faced defending champion Agnieszka Radwanska and won.
Li is regarded as an offensive baseliner whose game is primarily characterised by her groundstrokes, which are both deep and powerful off both wings. Her forehand, although at times erratic, is her main weapon, particularly her cross court forehand, which she hits with great accuracy and pace. Although not as powerful, her backhand is usually more consistent and reliable. Having played doubles for many years, she is comfortable when playing at the net and possesses a strong net game, occasionally coming up to the net to finish off points and long rallies. Known for her athleticism and speed around the court, she hits well on the run, and is capable of constructing winning plays from defensive positions, allowing her to turn defensive play into offensive play.
One of Li's biggest weaknesses is her inconsistency, as shown by her results. She has a tendency to lose concentration and hit a high number of unforced errors at any stage of a match, often on crucial points, preventing her from clinching victory in many close matches. She also lacks variety in her game, as her shots are usually hit hard and very flat and rarely with topspin or slice.
Grand Slam finalsEdit
Singles: 2 (1 title, 1 runner-up)Edit
|Runner-up||2011||Australian Open||Hard||Template:Flagicon Kim Clijsters||6–3, 3–6, 3–6|
|Winner||2011||French Open||Clay||Template:Flagicon Francesca Schiavone||6–4, 7–6(7–0)|
Olympic medal matchesEdit
Singles: 1 (0–1)Edit
|4th place||2008||Beijing||Hard||Template:Flagicon Vera Zvonareva||0–6, 5–7|
Grand Slam Singles performance timelineEdit
|Grand Slam Tournaments|
|Australian Open||A||LQ||A||A||A||3R||1R||4R||3R||A||SF||F||4R||0 / 8||21–7||75%|
|French Open||A||A||A||A||A||A||3R||3R||A||4R||3R||W||4R||1 / 6||19–5||79%|
|Wimbledon||A||LQ||A||A||A||A||QF||A||2R||3R||QF||2R||2R||0 / 7||13–6||68%|
|US Open||LQ||A||A||A||A||1R||4R||A||4R||QF||1R||1R||3R||0 / 8||12–7||63%|
|Win-Loss||0–0||0–0||0–0||0–0||0–0||2–2||9–4||5–2||6–3||9–3||11–4||14–3||9–4||1 / 29||65–25||72%|
- Main article: Li Na career statistics
Since her Roland Garros triumph in 2011, Li has signed seven sponsorship deals, including Mercedes Benz and Taikang Life Insurance, which subsequently poised her to overtake Maria Sharapova as the world's top-earning female athlete. Li's agent, Max Eisenbud, also managed to negotiate a deal allowing her to wear Nike patches on her clothing.
This success also earnt her a deal with Crown Limited – an Australian gaming and entertainment group. Greg Hawkins, Crown’s Deputy Chief Executive Officer, said: "This new initiative provides Crown with significant increased exposure in Asia and is an integral part of Crown’s global marketing strategy to attract further international visitors to Australia and Crown. We extend a warm Australian welcome to our new ambassador, Li Na."
Li's other sponsors, past and present, include:
- ↑ http://tvnewsroom.co.uk/news/us-open-tennis-2012-laura-robson-v-na-li-live-coverage-on-sky-sports-3-48623/
- ↑ Template:Cite news
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- ↑ Li Na tops Francesca Schiavone for title. ESPN. June 4, 2011. Accessed 2011-06-06.
- ↑ Cnn.com: "Li Na: China's tennis rebel is people's idol" 4 June 2011
- ↑ Template:Cite news
- ↑ http://www.medibankinternational.com.au/2011/01/li-defeats-clijsters-to-take-womens-singles#more-5399
- ↑ Template:Cite web
- ↑ CHINA HAILS LI NA'S FRENCH OPEN WIN AS SOURCE OF PRIDE, TSN.ca, June 4, 2011
- ↑ Li Na – From an athlete in the shadows to a new national hero, Thinking Chinese, June 5, 2011
- ↑ Template:Cite news
- ↑ Li Na in Awards
- ↑ CNBC: Li Na Signs Big Endorsement Deal With Mercedes Benz http://www.cnbc.com/id/43426736/Li_Na_Signs_Big_Endorsement_Deal_With_Mercedes_Benz
- ↑ Telegraph: Li Na poised to become world's top-earning female athlete http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/tennis/8676962/Li-Na-poised-to-become-worlds-top-earning-female-athlete.html
- ↑ The Week: China’s Li Na set to earn more than Maria Sharapova http://www.theweek.co.uk/people-news/3401/china%E2%80%99s-li-na-set-earn-more-maria-sharapova
- ↑ Forbes: Win By China's Li Na To Boost Sponsors, May Spur Spending On Other Stars http://www.forbes.com/sites/russellflannery/2011/06/06/win-by-chinas-li-na-to-boost-sponsors-may-spur-spending-on-other-stars/
- ↑ CNN: Courting China: Li Na leaps up sport's rich listhttp://edition.cnn.com/2012/05/25/sport/tennis/tennis-french-open-li-na/index.html
- ↑ CROWN ANNOUNCES MAJOR SPONSORSHIP WITH LI NA http://www.crownmelbourne.com.au/Assets/Files/Crown%20Announces%20Major%20Sponsorship%20with%20Li%20Na.pdf
- ↑ China Open: LI Na signed with Kunlun Mountain yesterday http://www.chinaopen.com.cn/en/news/2011-09-29/1251272.shtml
- ↑ China Daily: China's tennis ace eyes next year's Olympics http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/cndy/2011-09/29/content_13814097.htm
- ↑ http://www.wtatennis.com/news/20110209/li-na-haagen-dazs-ambassador_2256076_2288898
- ↑ http://www.sportseasia.com/portfolio/li-na-%E2%80%93-haagen-dazs/
- ↑ http://www.wtatennis.com/gallery/20110209/li-na-haagen-dazs-gallery_2256674_2288892
- ↑ Rolex: Li Na http://www.rolex.com/en#/world-of-rolex/sports-and-culture/tennis/li-na
- ↑ http://afr.com/p/lifestyle/sport/li_proves_trump_card_for_sponsors_4BL2JMCTUu0o7KjYJMQkzM
- ↑ Market Wire: SpiderTech Signs Li Na to Health and Wellness Program http://www.marketwire.com/press-release/spidertech-signs-li-na-to-health-and-wellness-program-1387340.htm
- ↑ Sports Business Digest: Sponsorship: French Open champ Li Na and SpiderTech http://sportsbusinessdigest.com/2011/06/sponsorship-french-open-champ-li-na-and-spidertech/
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