Li Na loses in first round of China OpenOctober 2nd, 2011 - 11:02 pm ICT by IANS
Beijing, Oct 2 (IANS) World number five Li Na became the biggest casualty in the opening round of the China Open tennis Sunday, slumping to a 4-6, 0-6 defeat to the unknown Romanian qualifier Monica Niculescu.
Li, who broke up with her Danish coach Michael Mortenson after a string of disappointing results since being crowned the French Open champion, still cut a sorry figure on home court under the guidance of husband-coach Jiang Shan.
Li meant her words in the pre-tournament press conference the previous day, saying that the main draw was never easy although her rivals in the first two rounds were either qualifiers or wild card players.
The second set proved a torture for the crowd standing in the cold and Li herself, the first Chinese to win a Grand Slam trophy. She was horribly out-of-form and her game became ugly with many grave mistakes and looking like she never wanted to win. In the most humiliating way of losing a match, Li dropped the set at love, Xinhua reported.
Samantha Stosur from Australia will benefit a lot through Li’s defeat as the newly crowned U.S. Open winner was heading to a possible fourth round clash and now the world number six stays much more comfortable in her zone. Stosur beat Bulgaria’s Tsvetana Pironkova 6-4, 6-0 in another first round match.
In the newly built National Tennis Stadium with a capacity of 15,000 fans, the Romanian qualifier Monica did not look frightened playing Li.
The start of the match was unexpectedly a lopsided one, with Li failing to hold her first three serves and trailing 5-1 against her much lower ranked opponent.
Li revived some of her brutal game in the seventh game, saving three set points before holding her first serve of the match, 5-2.
To the noisy home audience, Li seemed to go back on track by breaking in the next game and going on to pull with at 5-4.
However, Niculescu’s confidence seemed unchanged in the tenth game and finally tasted the first drop of blood after Li’s forehand return went into the net, 6-4.
Having come into the tournament as a Grand Slam winner for first time, Li has been given much expectations or what she described are more like burdens of becoming the first Chinese to lift trophy on home soil in the eighth year of the tournament.
The Chinese trailblazer never found her way out against the 58th ranked rival in the remaining part of the match.
Other first round results:
Daniela Hantuchova, Slovakia, bt Eleni Danilidou, Greece, 6-4, 6-2,
Polona Hercog, Slovenia, bt laura Robson, Britain, 6-4, 6-3, Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, Spain, bt Shahar Peer, Israel, 6-1, 7-5, 13-Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Russia, bt Barbora Zahlavova Strycova, Czech Republic, 7-5, 6-4, Caria Suarez Nararro, Spain, bt Ekaterina Makarova, Russia, 7-5, 6-1, Christina Mchale, United States, bt Ayumi Morita, Japan, 6-2, 0-6, 6-3, 8-Marion Bartoli, France, bt Iveta Benesova, Czech Republic, 3-6, 6-4, 7-5, Kaia Kanepi, Estonia, bt Zheng Saisai, China, 6-0, 6-3, 14-Sabine Lisicki, Germany, bt Irina-Camelia Begu, Romania, 6-2, retired, Ana Ivanovic, Serbia, bt Kimiko Date-Krumm, Japan, 6-1, 6-1, Dominika Cibulkova, Slovakia, bt Zhang Shuai, China, 6-0, 6-2.