TENNIS – As Billie Jean King, once said, pressure is a privilege. But for Li Na, the great expectations of being a top seed is tough. She has been in unchartered territory in Indian Wells. It is the first time in her career she has been seeded No 1. And she feels the pressure. From Indian Wells, Lucia Hoffman for Tennisvista
Love her, love her, love her! Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
As Billie Jean King, once said, pressure is a privilege. But for Li Na, the great expectations of being a top seed is tough. She has been in unchartered territory in Indian Wells. It is the first time in her career she has been seeded No 1. And she feels the pressure.
“Always tough” she says. “Because first time to be top seed in a big tournament and never have, how do you say, experience before.”
“I try feeling the same, but it is different, you know.”
She tries to describe the types of pressure she feels as the top seed and the expectations attached to it.”
“I think it is everything. Before if I come to tournament, maybe I was like No 6 or No 7 seed, you know, now is high attention, everyone is focused.”
Overall, Li Na is happy with her progress in the tournament.
“Yes, at least I can win the last point, and still, stay in the tournament.” She says.
It took Li Na 10 match points opportunities and 21 minutes to finish the last game but eventually, she did. Na won 6-1, 6-4 3 deficit to reach the quarterfinals for the third time in Indian Wells.
She was asked if 11 is a lucky number in Chinese numerology, since she needed 11 match points to win the match. Apparently not until today, as Li Na replies:
“Oh, I have 11? Wow. Yeah, she’s pretty good. She save a lot of match points. Only I can say.”
“The funny thing is beginning of the game I was feeling tight, nervous, and then I was feeling like what’s going on? Why can’t I finish the match? “
Li Na also had a controversial bad call during the match.
“The coach was like, Calm down, calm down. I was like, How can I calm down? “ she says.
Li Na is often reminded of a match at Wimbledon which she didn’t challenge a bad call and lost the match. So now, very often, she will challenge calls she thinks its wrong. So, no surprise that happened yesterday in Indian Wells.
“But at least I have good eye or I still keep it for challenging. If I didn’t have challenging anymore I cannot have a chance.” Li Na explains.
In her press conference she mentioned that: “I even didn’t shower. I come to the press conference. Yeah (smiling).”
Li Na also answered a few more questions:
BEING FROM WORLD’ BIGGEST COUNTRY:
“I cannot make every single person understand how the sport is. If you are doing the sport, for sure you know, you cannot win all the times.”
TENNIS IN CHINA:
“Still have to improve a lot.”
ON BEING LUCKY:
“I’m already have two in my pocket. Nobody takes it.”
AS LONG AS YOU LOVE IT:
“I still continue my love to tennis life, so I just continue to do that. I don’t care how the other people say.”
HOME IS WHERE THE HEART IS, WUHAN IN CHINA:
“It is a huge city. It is a very special city for me. i was born there, grow up in there.”
“Yes, of course, I will talk to Carlos after, because until now we still haven’t seen each other. We will talk about the serve later.”
Being a two time Grand Slam Champion and one of the best players in the world ads to the pressure Li Na feels on the tour. But for the fans, all they have to do is: love her, love her, love her!
From Indian Wells, Lucia Hoffman
In-Form Liudmila Samsonova Storms To Tokyo Title
Tokyo is the second tournament this year the Russian has won without dropping a set.
Liudmila Samsonova has continued her rapid surge on the Tour by defeating China’s Qinwen Zheng 7-5, 7-5, to win the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo.
The world No.30 dropped serve only once and hit four aces as she edged her way past rising star Zheng who is the first Chinese teenager to reach the final of a Tour-level singles event. Overall, Samsonova won 68% of her service points en route to becoming the first Russian player to win the tournament since Nadia Petrova in 2012.
“It’s amazing, I don’t have too many words right now. I need a little bit of time,” said Samsonova, who beat Grand Slam champions Elena Rybakina and Garbine Muguruza earlier in the draw.
“It was a really tough match. She is playing amazing. It was a nervous match, we were fighting every point. It was tough.”
Samsonova is becoming a formidable force in the women’s game and has now won 18 out of her past 19 matches. Last month she also won titles in Washington and Cleveland before reaching the last 16 of the US Open for the first time in her career at the age of 23. She is now 4-0 in tournament finals and didn’t drop a set in Tokyo this week.
“I played a high level in all my five matches. I am incredibly happy about how I managed it,” she said.
There is also a reason for Zheng to celebrate with her run in Tokyo securing her place in the world’s top 30 for the first time on Monday when the rankings are updated. Making her the first Chinese player to do so as a teenager. She is also only the second teenager to reach the final of a WTA 500 event or higher this season after Coco Gauff at the French Open.
Samsonova will also rise to a ranking high on Monday to just outside the world’s top 20.
Naomi Osaka Seeks Resurgence At Home Event After Rollercoaster Year
Former world No.1 Naomi Osaka admits that there have been more downs than ups for her this year but she is maintaining a positive outlook.
The four-time Grand Slam champion has played 22 matches so far this season with her win-loss record currently standing at 13-9. However, at her six most recent tournaments she has failed to win back-to-back matches and is currently on a four-match losing streak. Osaka also missed this year’s Wimbledon Championships due to an achilles injury.
Currently ranked 44th in the world, Osaka is hoping to break her slump at this week’s Toray Pan Pacific Open which will be held in Tokyo. It will be the first time she has played since losing to Danielle Collins in the first round of the US Open.
“I think, of course, the year has (not been) the best year for me,” Osaka said during her pre-tournament press conference. “But I think overall I’ve learned a lot about myself and I’m just happy to be healthy. Because in Europe, I did injure myself, and that was like my first injury that took me that long to get healed.
“I think life is kind of ups and downs and this one was kind of more down than up, but overall I’m pretty happy with where I am now.”
Osaka is the defending champion in Tokyo, even though she won the tournament back in 2019. The event has been cancelled for the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A lot has happened to the Japanese player since she won the title, both on and off the court. Osaka has spoken publicly about her mental health issues and took time away from the sport because of them.
“It feels really weird to hear that I’m the defending champion because it was the last time I played in 2019,” she said. “I would love to win it again, but I think just taking it one match at a time … and also just playing in front of a crowd in Tokyo again, because the Olympics was crowdless, so it will just be nice to see people.”
This year Osaka does not have a seeding in the Tokyo draw which is in stark contrast to three years ago when she was the highest-ranked player in the tournament. She will begin her campaign against Australia’s Daria Saville and could then face fifth seed, Beatriz Haddad Maia, in the last 16.
“I think every year for me since the first Slam, there’s been a lot of changes,” Osaka said. “But I think this year it has definitely been a real growing year for me. I think tennis-wise, I don’t really think I can go in a wrong direction. I feel like me as a player, my base is pretty solid. I can only really learn more about myself. I know that I am an aggressive player and I can only hope to keep doing that.”
Away from the Tour, the 24-year-old remains one of the highest-earning players in the sport. According to a report published by Forbes in August, she earned in the region of £56.2M over 12 months with $55M of that coming from off-court ventures. She has also set up her own sports agency with long-time agent Stuart Duguid, signing Nick Kyrgios as one of her clients.
“For everything off court, I think it’s really cool how tennis has let me get so many opportunities in things that I’m interested in, and it’s something I’m really happy and grateful for and I can only hope it keeps evolving.” She commented.
This week Osaka is seeking to win her first title of any sort since the 2021 Australian Open.
Simona Halep Ends 2022 Season With Nose Surgery And Mental Exhaustion
Simona Halep will return to the court in 2023.
Simona Halep has ended her season after having nose surgery and suffering from mental exhaustion in recent months.
The two-time Grand Slam champion has had a mixed season this year with the Romanian almost quitting the sport in February.
However the former world number one reunited with Patrick Mouratoglou and produced a world-class grass court season and US Hard court swing to get back into the world’s top ten.
Despite this, Halep has also had her troubles having had a panic attack at Roland Garros and struggled with anxiety.
This was all produced by the Romanian in her statement when she announced she would not play the rest of the season due to a nose surgery which has been linked to her breathing.
Now Halep will look to recover mentally and physically in time for January’s Australian Open as she will look to become a Grand Slam champion for the third time in her career.
Simona Halep’s 2022 Season:
Melbourne Summer Set 1: Champion
Australian Open: R4 l. Cornet
Dubai: Semi-Finals l. Ostapenko
Qatar: R1 l. Garcia
Indian Wells: Semi-Finals l. Swiatek
Madrid: Quarter-Finals l. Jabeur
Rome: R2 l. Collins
Roland Garros: R2 l. Q. Zheng
Birmingham: Semi-Finals l. Haddad Maia
Bad Homburg: Semi-Finals l. Andreescu
Wimbledon: Semi-Finals l. Rybakina
Washington: R2 l. Kalinskaya
Cincinnati: R2 – Withdrew
US Open: R1 l. Snigur
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