A lot of hype to live up to

Updated: 2011-09-27 07:47

By Wu Ying and Chen Xiangfeng (China Daily)

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A lot of hype to live up to

Chinese tennis star Li Na says her mental toughness waned after her forst Grand Slam. [China Daily]

Suffering a lull after French Open title, Li Na hopes for a turnaround at the China Open

BEIJING - She has the sponsorships, and the wall-to-wall media coverage.

What Li Na really needs now is some wins.

The Chinese tennis ace appeared at a press conference held together with her latest sponsor Crown Melbourne Limited, Australia's leading integrated entertainment resort operator, last Friday in Beijing, and said she's hoping to bounce back at the China Open during the National Day holidays.

The reigning French Open champion blamed her dip in form since she lifted the Suzanne Lenglen Cup this June on a lack of mental toughness.

"Unlike men, who are ambitious, women are emotional," said the outspoken Li. "Male players yearn to conquer all titles but females tend to be more easily satisfied and often need a break after they have achieved a goal. You can see we (female players) all are not consistent this season."

The 29-year-old's season, which began so triumphantly, has quickly spiraled.

She suffered her second consecutive first-round exit earlier this month at the US Open.

"Now I've even lost all confidence on the court," Li said after she bowed out and looked lost at Flushing Meadows.

So, is she confident now?

Li thought for a while.

"Confident? It is hard to say - people see me as a Grand Slam champion now, so many can not understand or accept when I lose," she said.

"Confidence is earned on the court through one match after another."

The newly built Center Court at the China Open could be the perfect arena for Li to shake off the rust and boost her confidence. She has been training for two weeks, and said she feels good.

Tennis diehards flocking to the National Tennis Center won't be seeing Michael Mortensen, who had been coaching Li since her French Open triumph in June.

"We have talked about it seriously, and he respected my choice," Li said.

The split means Li dumped the Dane's "mild and gentle" way of coaching for another date with her husband, Jiang Shan.

Li said that she will not look for a new coach in the near future and her husband, who has coached her before, will be with her during the China Open.

The World No 5 said she does not have a goal for this year's final mandatory tournament on home soil, but she will do her best to pay back the home crowd's support.

Li won't be the only star at the tournament - Danish defending champion Caroline Wozniacki, US Open champion Samantha Stosur, perennial powerhouse Serena Williams and Russian sensation Maria Sharapova will also compete.

Last year, Li reached the semifinals.

WTA rankings on Monday:

1. Caroline Wozniacki (Denmark) 9335 points

2. Maria Sharapova (Russia) 6226

3. Victoria Azarenka (Belarus) 6055

4. Vera Zvonareva (Russia) 5920

5. Li Na (China) 5870

6. Petra Kvitova (Czech Republic) 5530

7. Samantha Stosur (Australia) 5380

8. Francesca Schiavone (Italy) 4775

9. Kim Clijsters (Belgium) 4501

10. Marion Bartoli (France) 4225

11. Andrea Petkovic (Germany) 4025

12. Jelena Jankovic (Serbia) 3270

13. Agnieszka Radwanska (Poland) 3270

14. Serena Williams (United States) 3180

15. Peng Shuai (China) 2825

16. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (Russia) 2720

17. Sabine Lisicki (Germany) 2650

18. Roberta Vinci (Italy) 2505

19. (19) Svetlana Kuznetsova (Russia) 2481

20. (21) Julia Goerges (Germany) 2435