Asia’s top women’s player Li Na has said she has learned from the mistakes of her disastrous China Open last year and no longer feels the pressure of playing in her home tournament.
The last year French Open champion was a relieved woman after brushing aside fellow former Roland Garros winner Francesca Schiavone in the Beijing tournament’s first round – a year after a humiliating defeat at the same stage.
“I don’t think people can make the same mistakes. Last year I came to the China Open after the Grand Slam title and I think all the audiences and myself gave too much pressure to me,” the 30-year-old said.
“I experienced the Grand Slam title and failure afterwards. So I will not think it a big thing anymore,” added Li, who has never won the China Open.
Li defeated Schiavone, who was defending champion, 6-4, 7-6, to win her first Grand Slam but the Chinese star then slumped to an embarrassing straight-sets defeat to Romania’s Monica Niculescu in front of her home fans.
She has struggled with consistency this year and faces a fight to make October’s WTA Championships in Istanbul, Turkey but will take confidence from her 6-2, 6-3 thrashing of the Italian on Sunday.
“I don’t give in to too much pressure, because after all you never know how your performance is going to be,” she said afterwards. “You don’t know the performance of the opponent either.”
Li faces a tough match in her next round, coming up against Pan Pacific Open winner Nadia Petrova.
The Chinese star is seeded seventh, one place ahead of Samantha Stosur who bombed at this year’s Australian Open just months after becoming US Open champion, citing the weight of expectation that win brought coupled with playing at home.