[QODLink]
Tennis

Good win for Li Na ahead of Australian Open

China's Li Na defeats world number one Victoria Azarenka in Thailand as players prepare for first major of the year.
Last Modified: 29 Dec 2012 13:21
Li Na (L) and Azarenka (R) will be action at Australia Open which takes place from January 14 to January 27 [AFP]

China's Li Na beat World Number one Victoria Azarenka on Saturday 10-6 in a play-off after the pair shared a set each in a see-sawing invitation match in the Thai resort of Hua Hin.

Li, who became China's first superstar tennis player after winning the 2011  French Open, took the first set 3-6, dominating the World Number One Azarenka on the hard court with her serving and groundstrokes.

Azarenka sprung to life as the hot Thai sun faded and the flood lights came on, belting a series of winners as she claimed the second set at a canter 6-2.

"I was a bit surprised by the surface... I should have practised a little bit more. It was really competitive today, I am really glad to be back and I can't wait to the start of the season"

Top ranked Victoria Azarenka

But the Australian Open champion, who secured the top ranking when she beat Li in October at the WTA Championships in Istanbul, stumbled in the play-off making a costly series of unforced errors while Li plugged away, probing from the baseline.

"I can beat Azarenka, I think this win makes it around the same for each of us... so we are on a similar level," the world number 7 Li joked after the match, which ends a mixed year that saw her win just one singles title.

The Belarusian Azarenka, who flies to Brisbane from Thailand to prepare her Australian Open defence, conceded she could have been better prepared for the match - which was her second appearance at the invitational.

"I was a bit surprised by the surface... I should have practised a little bit more. It was really competitive today, I am really glad to be back and I can't wait to the start of the season," she said.

Azarenka has experienced a huge reversal of fortunes in the last year or so, banishing doubts over her future in the sport with a crushing win over Maria Sharapova in Australia to kick-start a season in which she topped the world rankings.

Li has struggled with consistency since becoming Asia's first Grand Slam-winner at the French Open last year, but finished the season strongly after changing coaches following a disappointing first-round exit at the London Olympics.

399

Source:
AFP
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Featured on Al Jazeera
French Jews and Muslims say recent National Front victories in mayoral races reflect rising xenophobia.
Western fighters have streamed into the Middle East to help 'liberate' Arab countries such as Syria and Libya.
The Pakistani government is proposing reform of the nation's madrassas, which are accused of fostering terrorism.
Weaving and handicrafts are being re-taught to a younger generation of Iraqi Kurds, but not without challenges.
Featured
Survivors of Bangladesh garment factory collapse say they received little compensation and face economic hardship.
As Iraq prepares to vote, deadly violence is surging. But at the site of one bomb attack, people insist life must go on.
French Jews and Muslims say recent National Front victories in mayoral races reflect rising xenophobia.
Up to 23,000 federal prisoners could qualify for clemency under new Justice Department initiative.
After years of rapid growth, Argentina is bracing for another economic crisis as inflation eats up purchasing power.
join our mailing list