SHENZHEN, China - It wasn't an easy task - she had lost two of the pair's three previous meetings and had the pressure of her home crowd on her shoulders - but Li Na was just tough enough, edging Klara Zakopalova, 63 16 75, to win the International-level Shenzhen Longgang Gemdale Open.
Though she won the first set fairly comfortably, Li's problems with the Zakopalova game began to show right after, as the No.5-seeded Czech raced through the second set and broke in the opening game of the third. Li, the No.1 seed, found her range just in time, winning five of the next six games for a 5-2 lead in the decider, and after allowing Zakopalova to close to 5-all, she closed it out with two quick games.
The two were so evenly matched in the two-hour, four-minute final that Zakopalova actually ended up winning more points in the match than Li: 89 points to the Czech, 88 points to the Chinese.
Li captured her seventh WTA title and second in China, following a triumph at Guangzhou in 2004 that made her the first Chinese player ever to win a WTA title. Her other five WTA titles came at Gold Coast in 2008, Birmingham in 2010, Sydney and the French Open in 2011 and Cincinnati in 2012.
"Klara played well and I managed my mood swings well, and I'm glad I made it," Li said. "Winning the title certainly helps boost my confidence for the coming weeks, but it also depends on how I'm playing on the courts. Confidence itself won't guarantee a win. But I'm very happy to win and the Shenzhen Longgang Gemdale Open was a great tournament - I believe it will get even better in future years.
"I'll fly to Sydney tonight. I'll try my best there and as a professional player I'll play every match very seriously. I don't know how many more years I will still play, so I'm really cherishing every match I play."
Zakopalova is now 2-10 in WTA finals, but there's a very bright silver lining for her - she is projected to rise from her current ranking of No.28 past her career-high of No.26, which she set back in 2006.
"It was about a few points today but she really proved she's a top player - she played her best from 5-all," Zakopalova said. "She's playing unbelievably fast and flat, and she's hitting her backhand down the line very well. To me she's one of the Top 3 players right now and I hope she can make it there.
"There's no way to be sad about losing - I lost to a top player and I'm happy to reach the final."
The doubles title went to No.1 seeds the Chan sisters, Hao-Ching and Yung-Jan, who beat unseeded duo Irina Buryachok and Valeria Solovieva in the final later in the day, 60 75. Chan Yung-Jan collected her 10th WTA doubles title, while younger sister Chan Hao-Ching won her first WTA doubles title.
"We started quite well today - in the second set we went through a bit of trouble, but we managed to get control back," Chan Yung-Jan said. "This boosts our confidence and to win our first WTA title together in the first week of the year, and in the first year of this tournament, it means a lot to us."