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Fri Apr 18 10:04:56 SAST 2014

No beer, no fear for Li

Sapa-AFP | 30 August, 2012 10:280 Comments
2012 US Open - Day 3
Li Na of China serves against Casey Dellacqua of Australia during their second round match on day three of the 2012 US Open at Flushing Meadows in New York on August 29, 2012
Image by: Al Bello / Getty Images

Li Na said on Wednesday that if she wins the US Open, she will not ruin her champagne moment by overdoing the celebrations.

In January this year, the Chinese star woke up with a thumping hangover following her Australian Open fourth round defeat to Kim Clijsters in a match where she squandered four match points in a 4-6, 7-6 (8/6), 6-4 loss.

“It was really tough. I played Kim this year in Australia, and I think both of us played a very good match. But for me it was worse because the next day is Chinese New Year,” recalled Li.

“After I lose the match, I was like, ’What was going on. Everyone was so happy without me,’ so I was like, ’OK, just take the beer and totally drunk.’ 

“Next day I wake up, I was like, ’OK, forget what I do yesterday.’ In China, we say if you lose the day, you feel a whole year is not so lucky.

“So I said, ’OK, c’mon. I have four match points.’ Suddenly I was lost. I was like, ’OK, totally lost. I just drink all the time, yeah.’” 

And the 30-year-old was adamant that any success in New York would be celebrated calmly and in moderation.

“Fortunately I not do the same,” she said. “Maybe a couple of beers, but not all the time.” 

Li reached the US Open third round on Wednesday with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Australia’s Casey Dellacqua.

She next faces British teenager Laura Robson who, ironically, defeated three-time US Open champion Clijsters in the Belgian’s last career singles match on Wednesday.

Ninth seed Li has arrived in New York in a rich vein of form, having won the Cincinnati tournament and finishing runner-up in Montreal, both events key warm-ups for the US Open, the season-ending Grand Slam tournament.

Her win in Cincinnati was her first title since her landmark French Open triumph more than 12 months earlier.

Li admitted that her sudden fame which emanated from that victory — Asia’s first in Grand Slam singles — turned her head so much that she lost sight of her priorities.

“I’m not a movie star. I’m an athlete. I have to do a good job on the tennis court,” she said.

“So I was feeling if I can’t do well, why the sponsors should come for me? They can come for another athlete. I really wanted to do well, but sometimes it didn’t work.

“I think I was making a lot of pressure for myself. I was feeling after I win a Grand Slam, against some players, face-to-face, they are feeling they have nothing to lose.

“They come to court, boom, boom. Suddenly I’m losing match so easily. It’s a totally different story now because I have learned what I should do. Time can change everything.

“I was feeling I still love my tennis life, so I really want to challenge one more time to see how far I can get.”

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