Li Na thrashes Italian Schiavone on home soil to advance at China Open
Agence France-Presse in Beijing
China's Li Na thrashed Italy's Francesca Schiavone in the first round of the China Open - a year after a humiliating defeat on the same stage.
Asia's top women's player, who needs a strong showing in Beijing to qualify for the WTA Championships in Istanbul this month, dominated the match to win 6-2, 6-3 yesterday.
Li became Asia's first singles grand slam winner last year at Roland Garros in Paris, after beating then-defending champion Schiavone. But after her French triumph she crashed out in an embarrassing straight-sets defeat to Romania's Monica Niculescu in front of her home fans. Yesterday marked Li's return to form. She was quick, aggressive and had Schiavone on the back foot right from the first serve. The pressure got to the Italian, who hit nine double faults in the first set and another three in the second.
"I would like to say thanks to the fans who came to the court to support me," said Li. "I was feeling much better this year and at least I have won one match."
However, the draw has not been easy on Li, who has never won the China Open. Next, she faces Pan Pacific Open winner Nadia Petrova.
Earlier, Britain's Laura Robson came a step closer to breaking into the top 50, beating an opponent more than twice her age.
The world number 57, who reached the final of the Guangzhou Open last month, continued her Asian adventure by defeating Japan's Kimiko Date-Krumm 6-4, 6-4.
The 18-year-old fought back brilliantly from three games down in the first set, winning five straight games without reply against Date-Krumm, 42, as youth ultimately overpowered experience.