Li Na

Li Na tumbles out of Qatar Open

Australian Open upset by Czech qualifier

PUBLISHED : Friday, 14 February, 2014, 10:14am
UPDATED : Friday, 14 February, 2014, 10:14am

Top-seeded Li Na’s Australian Open triumph last  month was followed by a stunning tumble when she lost to a qualifier in the  third round of the Qatar Open on Thursday.

The celebrated Chinese player was beaten 7-6 (7-2), 2-6, 6-4 by Petra  Cetkowska, a Czech ranked outside the top 100, in a topsy-turvy contest in Li’s  first tournament since her Grand Slam triumph in Melbourne.

She seemed to have turned the match around when she came from behind to  lead 3-1 in the final set, but then appeared to run out of steam in a two-hour  46-minute contest in which her ratio of errors increasingly soared.

Her consolations are that she will still be world number two for the first  time – the highest ever by an Asian player – at the end of the week, and that  she mostly stuck to an ambitiously aggressive game plan despite a disruptive  wind.

“I don’t think my performance was so bad,” Li said. “Though if I had  continued more coming to the net it would have been better. A defeat is not  always so bad either. At least I fought and I got information from what  happened. I will put that information straight into my training.”

Li paid tribute to Cetkowska, whose performance suggested she is recovering  well from injuries which caused her to plunge from the world’s top 30.

Nevertheless, Li had so many chances to take hold of the contest, having  game points to lead 3-0, 4-1, and 5-3 in the final set, and yet was unable to  convert any of them.

Later there was some consolation for Chinese supporters when Peng Shuai  became certain of becoming the first Chinese player ever to top a world ranking.

After she and Hsieh Su-Wieh, her Taiwanese partner, won their first-round  doubles by 6-2, 6-4 against the Ukrainian-Russian combo of Irina Buryachok and  Vitalia Diatchenko, they had earned enough points to climb above the current  world number ones, Roberta Vinci and Sara Errani of Italy.     

Peng, though, claimed to have been unaware of the accolade. “No, I didn’t  know,” she said. “The coaches came and said congratulations. And I said ’are  you sure?’”