SONY ERICSSON OPEN
Catching Up With... Li Na
by Joe McGovern|
Li Na became the first Chinese player to reach a Grand Slam final in 2011 at the Australian Open, then she did the history books one better, triumphing at the French Open while a record 116 million Chinese fans watched on TV. The good-humored World No. 8 caught up with SonyEricssonOpen.com after her three set victory over Germany’s Sabine Lisicki and spoke about her upcoming quarterfinal, her plans after retirement, and the confusion over which way to say her name.
Lisicki had beaten you twice, including in a close one at Wimbledon. Today you got your first win ever against her.
Yeah, the last time I played her was at Wimbledon. I had two match points, and she saved them and went on to win the match. I had just won the French Open, came to Wimbledon with a lot of confidence but she beat me. I didn’t feel like I played bad in that match. I can only say that both players played good.
Next up is Maria Sharapova. You’ve won the last four matches against her, including a semi-final last year at the French. Are you confident going into that match tomorrow?
The French Open is over. It was a year ago. And hard court is different than clay. She’s a fantastic fighter on the court, she never gives up. For sure it’s going to be a tough match. I’m looking forward to it.
At the Beijing Olympics in 2008, you got to the semi-finals after defeating Venus Williams in the quarters. Are you hoping for another special run in London?
It’s special, of course. At Wimbledon, on the grass. And of course I want to do well, because I think that it could be the last time to play for my country. You never know what’s going to happen after four years.
You temporarily left the sport in 2002 and pursued a BA in journalism. Have you given thought to putting the degree to use after your tennis career?
For me, the plan is that after my retirement I want to be a housewife. [Laughs] I really wanted to go to the university to see what life was like away from tennis. Before I only knew the one way but I had to learn a different way. I wanted to come to school and try to see how people think about tennis. It was good for me to calm down for two years and enjoy my life and then come back to the sport.
Last year in Australia you complained about being kept awake your husband’s snoring. Does he have any complaints about you?
I have to say, he is a gentleman. Doesn’t matter what I say or do, he always smiles. He is not a perfect guy, but I think he is for sure the best for me. And that is why until now we are not divorced. [Laughs]
On behalf of all the Western journalists, tell us, should we write your name as “Li Na” or “Na Li.”
[Laughs] I prefer Li Na, even though Li is my family name. But even my mother in China calls me Li Na, so that’s what I like.
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