Li Na keen for revenge match against Laura Robson in US Open

Chinese ace determined to set the record straight after her shock defeat to the Briton at the same stage of last year's US Open

PUBLISHED : Friday, 30 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 30 August, 2013, 3:01am

China's fifth-seeded Li Na is out for revenge in the third round of the US Open against Britain's Laura Robson.

Li, the 2011 French Open champion, needed only 64 minutes to breeze past 100th-ranked Swede Sofia Arvidsson 6-2, 6-2 and book a date with 30th seed Robson, who ousted Li in the third round last year at Flushing Meadows in what ranks among the English standout's biggest career victories.

"At the time it was the biggest," Robson said. "I remember being so nervous when I walked on court, just fighting through that and sticking with her.

"She made a lot of mistakes in the first set, which helped quite a lot. Hopefully she'll do that again."

But Li says she cannot wait to show Robson just how improved she is since that defeat, when the Briton was ranked 89th rather than being a fellow seed.

"I think both of us have improved a lot," Li said. "I'm really looking forward to playing against her. I would like to show her what I can do on the court and see how different we are.

"For sure a really challenging, lefty, aggressive player. Also, I can prove to myself after one year whether I can do better than last year."

Robson doesn't see much difference in her position despite her rise in the rankings.

"I don't think so. She's still the higher-ranked player," Robson said.

"I'm going to go out there like I approach every other match and just try my best. Definitely a big match against Li Na. It's going to be a tough one."

Robson eliminated France's Caroline Garcia 6-4, 7-6 (7-5), but Li finished ahead of rain that delayed the start of Robson's match for more than four hours.

"It's tough for them. It's comforting for me, just relax for the rest of the day and do whatever I want," Li said.

"At least I've done my job. I was so lucky before the rain came that I finished the match so I don't have to wait and warm up and come to the court again."

Li, the first Chinese player to win a grand slam title with her Roland Garros triumph, was a runner-up at this year's Australian Open, but her best US Open finish was a 2009 run to the quarter-finals.

She hoped for a similar charge last year before Robson doomed those plans.

Meanwhile, as the anointed leader of the next generation of American tennis players, Sloane Stephens is getting used to being in the spotlight.

The 20-year-old had been a bundle of nerves in her first match on Monday at Louis Armstrong Stadium and needed nearly three hours to advance.

But in front of a much bigger audience, she passed her latest test with flying colours, demolishing Poland's Urszula Radwanksa 6-1, 6-1 to ease into the third round.

"I just had a goal, I was going to come out here and play aggressive, not miss a ball and make her work. That's all I can do," she said.

"I have nothing to lose. It's the US Open so might as well come out and swing and have fun and I think that's what I did tonight."

If Stephens was unfazed by the boisterous crowds and the daunting size of the centre court stadium, she was unruffled by the late timing of her match.

After rain had washed out most of the day session and delayed the start of the night programme, her match did not begin until 11.53pm

Only one match, the 1987 clash between Gabriela Sabatini and Beverly Bowes that started at midnight, had begun later.

"I never started that late. It was definitely a long experience," she said. "But I played good. Maybe I should do that more often.

"Winning my first match on Ashe is a good feeling, a good way to do it."

To make the fourth round for the first time, she will need to beat her Fed Cup teammate Jamie Hampton, who ousted Kristina Mladenovic of France 7-5, 6-4.

"It's always tough playing obviously another American. Jamie is a good friend. Obviously it will be a good match," Stephens said.