Li Gets Wimbledon Challenge Underway
Published June 23, 2014 12:13
Following her shock first round exit a few weeks ago at the French Open, Li Na is likely to have breathed a sigh of relief upon finding out the Wimbledon draw had paired her with qualifier and Grand Slam debutante Kania. In fact, Kania's meeting with the World No.2 on Centre Court was her first WTA main draw match, following 19 unsuccessful qualifying attempts.
The Turning Point
With her pre-match scouting restricted to YouTube, Li struggled to get to grips with Kania's game early on. Making a mockery of the gulf in experience, the Pole appeared calm and composed, capturing an early break with a forehand pass.
As the contest went on, though, Li gradually settled into her rhythm, breaking back at 5-4 before taking the set with a terrific forehand winner into the corner. The No.2 seed continued in the ascendency in the second, breaking four more times to canter into a second round.
"Zero. I tried to find something on the internet, but couldn't," Li said when asked what she knew about her unheralded opponent. "A few days ago someone told me she has a good forehand, so today I started to play on her backhand and she didn't miss a shot!
"At the French I was feeling the pressure. When you have a high ranking, you always want to play well. But the person playing you has nothing to lose. I really wanted to do well in Paris and put a lot of pressure on myself.
"When you come on the court to play, there is tension. It doesn't matter if you have been playing well in practice, you're still nervous. It doesn't matter how long you've been on the tour because you never know what is going to happen in that first match. So I was a little bit down in the first set today, but I told myself just keep going. Or else it would be like the French Open."