Australian Open

Li targets top three

2013-01-18 08:34
Li Na (AFP)

Melbourne - Chinese star Li Na said she's determined to gatecrash the world's top three, helped by new coach Carlos Rodriguez, after reaching the Australian Open fourth round on Friday.

Currently ranked six, the 30-year-old kept on track at the year's opening Grand Slam by beating Romania's Sorana Cirstea 6-4, 6-1, and will next play 18th-seeded German Julia Goerges.

Li's highest singles rankings was four in 2011, when she won the French Open, and she has high hopes of bettering that with the help of Rodriguez, the ex-coach of former world number one Justine Henin.

"Of course I will try as hard as I can. I really want to be top three," said Li, who also made the final at Melbourne Park in 2011.

"This is the goal for whole team. I know it's tough, but if you didn't have a goal maybe you just feel like, 'Oh, number six also is pretty good'.

"But I still try to fight on the court to push myself."

To achieve her goal Li will need to unseat Victoria Azarenka, Maria Sharapova or Serena Williams, who are ranked one, two and three respectively, a goal which is out of reach at this tournament.

But with Rodriguez in her corner, she said anything is possible as the year progresses. Li used to have a reputation for fragility but she says he has toughened her up mentally, while also tweaking aspects of her game.

"Carlos is a very good coach," she said. "I started working with him (and) two days later, he just changed the technique of the serve, of the forehand.

"So, today(Friday) you can see (it) in the match. I mean, I was playing a little bit different before, more heavy, the ball with more topspin, not flat.

"Because Cirstea, she likes the flat ball, so I tried to change a little bit today(Friday) for this match.

"And Carlos prepares what I should do on the court, because sometimes I was thinking too much, so I couldn't concentrate all the time."

But if Li is to make the top three, she will need to tighten up the number of unforced errors (27) and double faults (six) she made against the Romanian.

"Before the match I was a little bit nervous because I have played her many, many times," she said.

"I know she can shoot the ball unbelievably, I never know if the next ball is in or out. I have to be ready for every second.

"But it was pretty good today. I was feeling more in control again on the court."

Next up in her quest to boost her ranking is Goerges, who beat Li's compatriot Zheng Jie in their third round clash.

Li has never played the German before, but she was in no rush to brush up on her opponent.

"I've never played Julia Goerges before, but right now I don't need to even think about the next match because I just finished the match today," she said.

"I will just enjoy today, and the next match will come Sunday, so I'll be ready for Sunday."

Read more on:    australian open  |  wta tour  |  li na  |  tennis


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