Li desperate to go one better

Sportal January 24, 2013, 8:55 pm
Li Na

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Australian Open finalist Li Na is hungry to make up for the disappointment of falling at the final hurdle two years ago at Melbourne Park when she battles top seed Victoria Azarenka for the crown on Saturday.

Li stormed into the tournament decider on Thursday by dismantling the seemingly invincible Maria Sharapova 6-2 6-2 in their semi-final clash at Rod Laver Arena after the Russian had conceded just nine games in her previous five matches.

The result saw the world number six progress to her first grand slam final since the 2011 French Open, when she won her one and only major career title, and her third decider overall.

"I (am) really hungry about (the) title, yeah," Li said after her convincing final-four victory.

"(The) first time (in 2011) I was feeling I (was) really near or close to the title.

"I think this time should be, I don't know, maybe different story or maybe same story. But I will try."

Li believes the experience of losing the 2011 Australian Open final to Kim Clijsters in three sets will hold her in good stead when she attempts to deny Azarenka back-to-back titles.

"2011 (was my) first time to the grand slam final, I was a little bit shocked because I didn't know what I should do," the sixth seed said.

"Also no one tell me what I should do on the court.

"But this time I got more experience, so I think should be better."

New coach Carlos Rodriguez has played a key role in Li becoming a grand slam finalist again and the Chinese 30-year-old is enjoying his tutelage.

"Until now is good," Li said of her relationship with Rodriguez.

"(The) beginning was a little bit tough. But I think until now, I mean, at least we trust (each other) a lot.

"He's doing a good job."

Li revealed she worked hard to keep her emotions in check during her dominant victory against Sharapova and putting up a facade was something she had focused on in training.

"I was working very hard in winter training with Carlos. This is the plan, what we should, do for all the year," she said.

"(At the) start (of) this year, I try to cool down on the court. Like Hollywood, you know. You don't have to show opponent what are you thinking.

"A little bit like Hollywood, but not real."

The sixth seed, who is China's first ever grand slam singles champion, also said that since playing in her maiden major final the pressure that came with being her country's most recognisable tennis player had lessened.

"I think right now is much, much better than two years ago, because two years ago is first one to final, first one to win," she said.

"For the people, (it is) so exciting. I think now have one time. I think the second time they think, 'oh, she win again. She (is) in the final again. Maybe not so interesting anymore'."

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