Doha - Li Na's return to action after last month's stunning Australian Open
triumph has proved a tough battle as she eventually prevailed in three sets
over Slovakian Magdalena Rybarikova in the WTA Qatar Open on Wednesday.
The top-seeded Chinese player needed two and a quarter hours to
overcome blustery wind and Rybarikova, the world number 32, 6-1, 5-7,
6-2, which reversed the result of their only previous meeting in 2009.
was when Rybarikova denied Li a grass court title at Birmingham,
England, winning the final of a Wimbledon warm-up event; five years
later Li is a better and more ambitious player.
"When I was training with Carlos (Rodriguez, her coach) I was working mentally, you know," she said.
"He thinks technique is not a big problem for me, but if I cannot control myself I become a big opponent for myself.
"So I have changed my training on the court a lot. But also off the court.I have changed a lot."
took five games in little more than 20 minutes, but errors flowed more
frequently from her racket in an up-and-down second set.
that phase Rybarikova played intelligently, tenaciously, and with
variety, although she looked a little jaded in the latter stages of the
final set, perhaps an aftermath of Tuesday's three-hour match with
Francesca Schiavone, the former French Open champion.
well to the challenge of a final set, breaking serve at once, saving a
break back point in the fourth game, and maintaining only a slightly
lower level of aggression but with importantly fewer errors.
was as well she did, for this was a day in which more seeds went out -
two of the better known ones - making eight out of the 16 gone half way
through the third day.
Ana Ivanovic, the ninth-seeded former
French Open champion from Serbia, lost 4-6, 6-1, 6-3 to Klara
Zakopalova, the world number 34 from the Czech republic, while Samantha
Stosur, the 12th-seeded former US Open champion from Australia, went
down 6-4, 4-6, 6-1 against Jana Cepelova, the world number 82 from
Neither was helped by being scheduled on outside courts where the effect of the wind was often greater.
centre court, by contrast, saw a great escape by Petra Kvitova, the
third-seeded former Wimbledon champion, to win 6-2, 2-6, 7-6 (9/7)
against Venus Williams, the seven times former Grand Slam champion, who
was producing flashes of her formidable best in the match of the
tournament so far.
Williams led 4-1 in the final set and would
have reached 5-1, with a double break of serve, had she not
unaccountably put a drop shot into the net with the court wide open.
struck the ball so resolutely that she often forced her opponent to
contain and defend, but missed two match points, one when she failed to
close the match out on her serve at 5-4, and another at 6-5 in the
When Williams got a match point of her own at 7-6 it
looked as if she would progress but Kvitova launched an improbable
forehand blast down the line and completed a memorable win two points
later by forcing a forehand error from her opponent.
the match I lost here last year," Kvitova said, referring to the 4-1
lead she let slip in the final set in a thrilling loss to Serena
"So I am really glad I came back."
seed departed when Caroline Wozniacki, the eighth-seeded former world
number one from Denmark, lost a cold late night encounter with Yanina
Wickmayer, the world number 72 from Belgium, 6-4, 7-5.
Results from the third day of the WTA Qatar Open in Doha on Wednesday (x denotes seeding):
Li Na (CHN x1) bt Magdelena Rybarikova (SVK) 6-1, 5-7, 6-2
Alisa Kleybanova (RUS) bt Stefanie Voegele (SUI) 6-3, 6-2
Sara Errani (ITA x4) bt Hsieh Su-Wei (TPE) 6-0, 6-4
Annika Beck (GER) bt Tsvetana Pironkova (BUL) 6-7 (5/7), 6-2, 6-2
Mirjana Lucic (CRO) bt Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) 6-4, 6-1
Klara Zakopalova (CZE) bt Ana Ivanovic (SRB x9) 4-6, 6-1, 6-3
Angelique Kerber (GER x6) bt Karolna Pliskova (CZE) 7-6 (7/2), 6-4
Lucie Safarova (CZE) bt Peng Shuai (CHN) 6-2, 5-7, 6-4
Jelena Jankovic (SRB x5) bt Karin Knapp (ITA) 6-0, 6-2