Bartoli Closing In On Top 10 Return
Published January 02, 2013 12:00
SHENZHEN, China - Li Na and Marion Bartoli battled through their second round matches at the Shenzhen Longgang Gemdale Open on Wednesday, fending off a pair of feisty opponents in tight two-setters to complete the quarterfinal line-up at the International-level tournament.
The No.2-seeded Bartoli had the tougher day at the office, grinding out a 58-minute first set and, after a mid-second set lapse, eventually closing out Swiss qualifier Stefanie Voegele, 75 64.
"I had a good patch going from 4-5 to 75 20, but I kind of let her get back into it a little bit from there," Bartoli said. "At the start of the season you kind of have more ups and downs because of the lack of matches. You've been training, but you haven't had any tournaments - but that's something you expect.
"Stefanie played very well today though. I think she was playing with some confidence. Obviously when lower-ranked players play players higher-ranked than them, they come out firing with absolutely nothing to lose, and that's usually when they play their best. I knew it was going to be a difficult match."
Next up for Bartoli is the No.5 seed, Klara Zakopalova, who advanced on Tuesday. "I played Klara last February in Paris and I was down 5-2 in the first set with two set points, but then I won that set and the second set 6-0, I think," Bartoli said. "She plays very flat and very hard. If she's having a great day she can beat anyone - we all saw her give Maria Sharapova a really hard time at the French Open. It'll be a tough match, but it's great for me to have some tough matches with the Australian Open coming up."
If Bartoli reaches the final in Shenzhen this week, she'll move from No.11 back to No.10.
Speaking of Top 10 players, Li - ranked No.7 and seeded No.1 - moved through as well, beating comeback kid Julia Cohen, 63 64. Cohen was coming off a thrilling first round win over Nina Bratchikova, rallying from 4-1 down in the second set and 5-1 down in the third, and saving three match points.
"After I won the first set today I kind of lost the tempo in the second set, maybe a bit too eager to hit winners," Li said afterwards. "It was tough but I'm happy I won in two sets today."
No Chinese player other than Li has ever been ranked in the Top 10, let alone finish in the Top 10 - and Li has done it twice, finishing No.5 in the world in 2011 and No.7 in the world in 2012.
"I've been lucky not to be bothered by injuries the past two years," said Li, one of the WTA's leading thirty-somethings. "Having my own team has helped me learn how to take care of myself better. There's no need to worry about how my health will be when I wake up each morning. When you're a professional tennis player and determined to be successful, you have to know how to keep yourself healthy."
Elsewhere, Chinese lucky loser Zhou Yi-Miao outlasted Chinese Taipei's Chang Kai-Chen, 46 62 76(3).
All four quarterfinals will take place at the International-level tournament on Thursday.