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By Gokul Pillai
Reads: 1,573, Comments: 2
Li Na had surfaced at China Open after becoming Asia’s first Grand Slam champion, but then faced immense trouble as she fell in straight sets in the first round of the $4.5-million China Open in Beijing.
Li was stunned by the nifty game of Romanian Monica Niculescu at her first hurdle, trailing 5-1 in the first set and, even after getting as close as 4-5, eventually slipping away to the No.58-ranked Romanian, 6-4 6-0.
Li explained, "Right now I've just lost all confidence. On the court I don't know what I can do. I felt even winning one point was tough for me. My coach came out and told me exactly what was right, but I couldn't do it. The end of the season is coming and there's a long break - hopefully I'll be able to stand up again and prepare for next year."
An analytical Li added on being asked about her current season, "I wouldn't give marks for this season. This season my performance is like sitting on a rollercoaster."
Niculescu said, "I like to mix the game up a lot. I like coming to the net, dropshots then slice, playing different. It wasn't a tactic to play against Li Na today, it was just my usual game. It worked today. The 24-year-old surprised even herself with the win. "I thought I was playing well, but I didn't know what was going to happen. I was playing her for the first time; before this I just saw her matches on TV. I was thinking 'Okay, she's Top 5, it's not going to be easy, even if I play well.' But I played my best and I did it."
US Open winner, Samantha Stosur kicked some form back into her game after her early loss in Tokyo, coming in on the winning end against Tsvetana Pironkova, 6-4 6-0. She said, "It's tough to come back and play so quickly after winning a tournament like the US Open. I felt like last week in Tokyo and the first few days here I wasn't playing as well as I wanted to. It wasn't like the US Open. You keep going back to those great feelings you had during a tournament where you did well and won. That's something new and different to deal with."
Eighth seeded Marion Bartoli slugged it out for two and a half hours to block Iveta Benesova, 3-6 6-4 7-5, with thirteenth seeded Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova fourteenth seeded Sabine Lisicki ending the day as the seeded winners in the first round.
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