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may have the Grand Slam titles and Chinese No.1 ranking, but head-to-head bragging rights back home belong to Zheng Jie, who, going into their second round meeting in Madrid, had come out on top in four of the pair's seven matches to date.
However, the past three in the series have gone Li's way, most recently earlier this spring in Indian Wells. Having withdrawn from Stuttgart, Li passed her first challenge of the clay court season on Monday, surviving a late rally to overcome Kirsten Flipkens.
The Turning Point
Li set the tone for the match early on, bullying Zheng around the court as she went about building an early lead. Looking at home on the clay, Li even felt the confidence to mix up her tactics, punching away a forehand volley to wrap up the set after just 34 minutes.
Zheng refused to wilt in the face of this pressure and was rewarded with a break at the start of the second set, her relentless scrambling forcing Li into playing one ball too many. However, her revival was short lived, Li regrouping to take the next five games before closing out a 6-2, 6-3 win with her first love service game of the match.
By The Numbers
While the scoreline was one-sided, Zheng certainly had her chances, particularly in the second set. In the end, it boiled down to their ability - or lack thererof - to convert break point chances, with Zheng spurning all five she carved out in the seventh game. Li, on the other hand, was rather more clinical, converting both of hers.
In the third round, Li will face No.16 seed Sloane Stephens.