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Li serves up a blast for media

Updated: 2014-01-16 07:33
By Reuters in Melbourne ( China Daily)

Chinese star says negative reporting had her close to quitting last year

Disillusionment with negative reporting in her home media nearly saw Li Na give up the game last year in the wake of her early French Open exit, the Chinese No 1 said at the Australian Open on Wednesday.

Li, who won the 2011 French Open to become Asia's first Grand Slam singles winner, was roundly criticized after being bounced by American Bethanie Mattek-Sands in the second round at Roland Garros.

Li has long endured a sensitive relationship with her country's media, which has been quick to condemn as well as heap praise on China's most successful player, but the critical reports that dogged Li in the lead up to Wimbledon took their toll.

"It was a very negative thing," Li said. "I could say something but (what) they would write down in the newspaper was totally wrong.

"They gave me a very tough time when I played the French Open, and it continued to Wimbledon.

"It's not (all) the Chinese media. It's jsut some of them.

"But someone, maybe they wanted to be more famous, you know, so that's why they always write down something I never said or another way round.

"But I was really happy (to) do well in Wimbledon, so that's why I continue until now. Otherwise, I don't know where I am now," she said.

Following the French Open, Li boarded a long flight to her hometown of Wuhan in central China to see her mother and galvanize herself for Wimbledon, where she shrugged off her slump to reach her third quarterfinal at the tournament.

Her first run to the US Open semifinals ensued and Li finished off her best season since her breakthrough campaign in 2011.

Runner-up at Melbourne Park last year and in 2011, Li moved into the third round on Wednesday by fending off 16-year-old qualifier Belinda Bencic 6-0, 7-6 (5) under the blazing sun at Rod Laver Arena.

Hailing from Wuhan, known in China as one of the Yangtze River's 'three furnaces' due to its sweltering summers, Li was more ruffled by her occasionally misfiring forehand than the heat at Melbourne Park, where the temperature hit 40 C.

"I think I was lucky, you know, because at least they put me in the first (session). So I can finish the match before 1 pm. Yesterday, I was practicing earlier to try to play a little bit in the heat."

Li will play Czech 26th seed Lucie Safarova next and a run to the second week of her favorite Grand Slam is likely to keep the headlines positive in China.

Li, nonetheless, pleaded for fair treatment.

"Please don't try to make me wrong again because, right now, I really, how do you say it, I am trying to be friendly. But maybe not everyone thinks about that."

 Li serves up a blast for media

Li Na celebrates defeating Belinda Bencic of Switzerland in their second-round match in Melbourne on Wednesday. Jason Reed / Reuters

(China Daily 01/16/2014 page24)