Li Returns To Action In Miami

Li Na made her comeback to the courts at the Sony Open Tennis on Thursday, playing for the first time since the Australian season. How did it go? Elsewhere, Agnieszka Radwanska cruised on.

Published March 21, 2013 12:00

Li Returns To Action In Miami
Li Na

MIAMI, FL, USA - Li Na was a star performer in Australia, putting together a 14-2 stretch that eventually took her to her third Grand Slam final at the Australian Open. She injured her ankle in that final, though, and has been out for the last month and a half - but she made a triumphant return to the courts at the Sony Open Tennis on Thursday, overpowering Kiki Bertens in straight sets.

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The No.5-seeded Li saved both break points she faced and broke Bertens four times to move smoothly into the third round, 63 61. The Chinese finished fast, reeling off the last 10 points of the match.

"I wasn't nervous before the match today, I was excited," Li said. "For the last six or seven weeks I haven't played any tournaments so I was happy to win my first match after such a long time.

"There were a lot of fans there to support me today, I was like, 'Wow!' My game was pretty good today, I followed the plan of what I should do. I just had to believe in myself that I could do it."

Another Top 5 star was among the early winners on Day 3, with No.4 seed Agnieszka Radwanska firing six aces and getting up an early break in both sets en route to a 63 62 win over Hsieh Su-Wei.

"I was happy to have a quick match," Radwanska said afterwards. "The first match is always a little bit tough and tricky, especially after Indian Wells, where we had a little bit of different conditions."

Radwanska isn't just the No.4 seed this year, she's also the defending champion - she captured the biggest title of her career here last year. She reminisced about the run in her press conference.

"It was a really special tournament for me because I was really playing a lot of good matches against top players and not even losing a set," Radwanska said. "I definitely have great memories from here. And the final was a very good match. Hopefully I can play the same level of tennis this year.

"I will do everything to hold the trophy again."

Radwanska talked about why she enjoys playing in Miami so much. "I think it's a great place to play tennis," she said. "When you come here you can see that the people here love tennis and this is a great city to play in. It's always great weather. And Miami is Miami - it's always a big and strong tournament, everybody playing it. Winning this tournament is almost like winning a Grand Slam."

And what about the purple courts? "Well since I can remember, the courts here are always purple," she said. "I'm good with that. I like purple very much, so I'm good with that. I have no problem."

Radwanska's win over Hsieh was her 20th match win of the year, making her just the second player so far this year to hit 20 - Sara Errani is already at 21, and will go for her 22nd win on Friday.

Other early winners were No.16 seed Sloane Stephens, who lost the first set in 20 minutes but came back to beat Olga Govortsova, 06 64 64; Croatian wildcard Ajla Tomljanovic, who stopped No.24 seed Julia Goerges, 76(4) 62; and No.30 seed Kirsten Flipkens, who defeated Stefanie Voegele, 64 62.

"It's not that I wasn't playing great, I was just asleep out there - I definitely needed to wake up and start playing," Stephens said after the match. "I thought I played some good points even in the first set when I was not there. It was a lot of battling and just hanging in there, and I think after I won a game in the beginning of the second set I was much better and thought, 'I'm just going to go ahead and play.'

"I was just happy to get through in the end."

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