Wed, Jan 04, 2012 - Page 19 News List

China’s Li desperate to win another Slam before ending career

Reuters, Perth, Australia

China’s Li Na returns to Anabel Medina Garrigues of Spain in their Hopman Cup match in Perth, Australia, yesterday.

Photo: EPA

Li Na has revealed her desperation to win another major championship before time is called on her career.

The French Open champion continued her individual form resurgence at the Hopman Cup yesterday, but she was unable to prevent China’s 2-1 defeat by Spain in the mixed teams event.

The world No. 5 peeled off 18 forehand winners to beat Anabel Medina Garrigues 6-3, 6-1 in 77 minutes, but that was as good as it got for China.

Spain’s Fernando Verdasco made light work of the lowest-ranked player in the tournament, world No. 424 Wu Di, cruising through 6-3, 6-4 as third seeds Spain remained undefeated and moved closer to a place in Saturday’s final.

Wu also struggled in the deciding mixed doubles and Spain won 6-0, 6-2.

Li’s ball striking and court movement have been impeccable in consecutive singles wins at the event thanks to an intensive four-week training camp in Munich, Germany, during the off-season.

However, the 29-year-old said she could hear the clock ticking on her career.

“I am not young any more and I do not have time to waste,” Li told reporters. “I have to focus every second of every tournament I play to make the most of the time I have left. That is why I stayed in Munich for so long ... to get my body healthy and strong.”

“This is a good warm-up, but [the] Australian Open will be very different. It’s hot, it’s outside, everybody will be fighting on the court,” she said. Verdasco was merciless in the singles and ruthless in the mixed doubles against the overawed Wu and his female partner.

“It is really hard to return a man’s serve,” Li said. “I mean, really hard. Today, I couldn’t pick up one ball. I was like: ‘What am I even doing here?’ He [Verdasco] hit aces just about every time. I asked Wu Di: ‘What am I supposed to be doing? How do I play this?’ It’s just totally different, but good practice for the women players.”

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