China’s Li Na turns momentum her way after ousting Samantha Stosur in Italy
Second seed makes inroads on lopsided scoreline with Australian, who has beaten Chinese in six previous encounters
Chinese second seed Li Na defeated Samantha Stosur 6-3, 6-1 to reach the quarter-finals of the ATP-WTA Rome Masters on Thursday, turning the momentum in a long-running rivalry.
Stosur, a 2010 Roland Garros finalist, had beaten world number two Li in all six of their previous meetings going back to 2007.
The victory was her second straight over an Aussie opponent after defeating qualifier Casey Dellacque in the previous round.
But China’s top female athlete made inroads against Stosur’s one-way scoreline with her first victory, achieved in 68 minutes with five breaks of the 30-year-old Australian.
“In the last six matches I tried to control the ball, but she was able to get a lot of chances,” said 32-year-old Li.
“I’m just trying to focus now on every match I play.”
Li added: “Today, I was very focused on what I had to do on the court to put pressure on her.
“Putting on pressure was the key to the match, otherwise she can totally control you.
“I now feel I’m playing high quality matches.”
Li will play a quarter-final against Italian tenth seed Sara Errani, who beat Czech Petra Cetkovska 6-3, 7-6 (7/3).
Li will play a quarter-final against Italian 10th seed Sara Errani, who beat Czech Petra Cetkovska 6-3, 7-6 (7/3).
“Errani will be tough as she will have the crowd on her side and plays well on clay.”
Li finished Rome runner-up in 2012, holding a match point against eventual champion Maria Sharapova.
Australian Open champion Li is looking for her third trophy of the season as she prepares for the French Open, which she won in 2011.
Third-seeded Pole Agnieszka Radwanska put out Italian veteran Francesca Schiavone, the 2010 French Open winner, 6-4, 6-1.
Ana Ivanovic handed Sharapova her first loss of the spring clay season as she beat the Russian eighth seed 6-1, 6-4.
Sharapova had won back-to-back titles in Stuttgart and Madrid, compiling a dozen straight victories.
Ivanovic, the 2008 Roland Garros winner and world number one, had won just two of 10 previous meetings with the four-time grand slam champion, the last seven years ago at a Roland Garros semi-final.