FROM THE ROGER’S CUP IN TORONTO – Li Na and her husband Dennis don’t talk tennis at the dinner table. Or at least away from tennis sites. That’s likely why every time she talks about him she does so with a smile on her face. “Out of the tennis court we never talk about tennis, so that’s why we can keep a long marriage.”
LI had another reason to smile on Thursday after she edged Ana Ivanovic 3-6 6-1 7-6 (5) in a match that for little while appeared to be in the Serbian’s hands, but once again she could not find a way to best a top player and went down. She was up 5-2, served for the contest at 5-3, but then Li began to deliver hammer shots with her devastating backhand crosscourt and down the line, with slice and body serves and some deep and impossible to touch forehands. Ivanovic did not choke the match, but she could not seem to bring her ‘A’ game when it mattered most. At 5-5 in the tiebreaker, Li nailed a forehand crosscourt winner. On match point with the ball into her favored forehand side, Ivanovic flew one long.
Li’s coach of one year now, Carlos Rodriguez is not with her on tis trip, but they are communicating via email. He will be in Cincinnati with her next week. Having Rodriguez around has even helped her marriage and how Dennis deals with her on court when Carlos isn’t around.
“Every time [Carlos] was like say, Relax. I say, I already relaxed. He say, No, you should even more. I was like, Okay. But it’s very tough, because my husband also is my ex‑coach. Sometimes he also has some idea, but if he say something I didn’t want listening all the time. So now I think he got a little bit smart. If he want to do something he talk to Carlos, and then Carlos talk to me. I was like, Okay, I have to do that because Carlos say I have to do. Because if like two coaches say the different thing, it was a little bit of a fight because I didn’t know which one I listen. Now I think they do pretty good job. They make together first and then say, Li Na, you have to do this. Li Na, you have to do that. Same like here, because Carlos is not here, but my husband always say, Oh, Carlos say you should… So I was like, Okay.”
Li one of the WTA’s most endearing characters. She has a terrific sense of humor and enjoys a good laugh even at her own expense. She will have another tough contest in the next round when she faces Bank of the West Classic Classic champion Dominika Cibulkova who took down Roberta Vinci of Italy 6-3 7-6. Domi has her grove back and she will be more than pleased to play powerball with Li.
Two other women who can smack the ball moved ahead and will face off. Defending champ Petra Kvitova muscled up and took a 6-3, 6-3 victory over SoCal Open victor Sam Stosur, who looked a little fried. Kvitova knew that so she made sure to hang tough in long rallies. But she does not feel she can take that kind of risk against Sorana Cirstea who had perhaps had the best 18 hours periods of her life when she fought off two match points against Caro Wozniacki in a three hour match that ended at almost midnight and then came back on Thursday afternoon and took out Jelena Jankovic 6-3 6-4.
“I think I made a huge step forward today by backing up the win from yesterday, because I think this was one of the issues in the past,” Cirstea said. “I would have a good win but then I couldn’t really back it up.
Now I feel I’m more solid, and I’m taking every match the same and not focusing so much, ‘Oh, I just had a big win.’ I’m like, ‘Today is a new day, new match.’ I just have to do the same things I’m doing every single day. This kind of mentality, it’s helping me.”
Marion Bartoli retired down 7-6 1-0 to Magdalena Rybarikova of Slovakia and either has an abdominal injury or she just exhausted from Wimbledon. Read here.
Serena Williams smoked Kirsten Flipkens 6-0 6-3 and showed the Belgium just how hard it is to best two sisters in one event: Flipkens was the one who beat Venus Williams in round one.
Agnieszka Radwanska played the big points better than Sloane Stephens in a 6-1 7-6 win and said the young American just needs more experience.
Sara Errani is less than thrilled with Alize Cornet but beat her anyway France 7-5 7-6. Read about their ‘Vamos v Allez’ tiff here.