The Li Na Conundrum

Li Na’s inconsistency is one of the WTA’s greatest mysteries.

Li Na? Or Na Li?

The western world’s difficulty with the naming order of the former Roland Garros winner is sometimes the least of her problems. She (basically) carries the burden of an entire nation, becoming the first Asian woman to win a major title in singles. She graced the cover of TIME Magazine, and was named by the publication as one of the 100 most influential people in the world this year. Recently called “the most important player of the decade” by WTA CEO Stacey Allaster, Li’s success has been instrumental in the rise of tennis in the Asia/Pacific region, as well as spearheading the concerted marketing efforts of the WTA in the area.

Nothing in Li’s career had marked her as a particularly strong clay court prior to her run to the Roland Garros title in 2011. She had previous contested just four French Opens, reaching three third rounds and one fourth round. Clay so often rewards patience, and this is a virtue that Li does not always possess. When Li is having a good day, she puts on a show. she’s capable of blowing anyone on the WTA off the court and going toe-to-toe with the game’s biggest hitters. The surface is irrelevant, as she can hit through any conditions. When she’s off, however, the match becomes more of a struggle against herself than any opponent.

After reaching the final in Stuttgart and losing a decent match to Maria Sharapova, Li struggled to adapt to the conditions in Madrid when facing lucky loser Madison Keys in the opening round; while no excuse, Li was no doubt befuddled by the last-minute withdrawal of Tamira Paszek, and received little to no advanced warning that she’d be playing Keys. In a 6-3, 6-2 defeat, Li amassed a total of 34 unforced errors, while balancing that out with just eight winners.

After playing one of the most dramatic matches of the 2012 season with Maria Sharapova in the finals at the Foro Italico last year, Li no doubt returned to Rome in 2013 looking to avenge some of the bad memories from a season ago. Li brushed aside countrywoman Zheng Jie in her opening match, delivering a clinical performance against a player she had previously struggled against; prior to their second round match, Zheng had won four of five previous meetings.

On the other side of the net in Rome on Thursday was Jelena Jankovic, a woman who has won six titles on clay in her career; this haul includes back-to-back titles in Rome at the height of her career in 2007 and 2008. The match was perhaps a microcosm of Li’s career; she was strikingly brilliant for a point or two, but largely flat, wild and unimpressive. Jankovic triumphed by a 7-6(2), 7-5 scoreline but it was perhaps Li’s stat line that was the most shocking of all: 31 winners and 62 unforced errors.

Statistics so rarely tell the real story regarding the dynamics of a tennis match, but tend to be incredibly accurate when Li steps on court. What was Keys’ tally in Madrid? Seven winners, 11 unforced errors. Jankovic’s was no better in Rome, as the Serbian needed just 16 winners (while making 29 errors of her own) to come out the victor. When Li is playing well, she forces her opposition to outplay her; when she’s not, however, they are only required to be just shy of ordinary.

While she has shown that she is able to shine on the biggest stages multiple times, there have been just as many or more when she has failed to rise to the occasion. At the age of 31, Li isn’t getting any younger. Erratic performances have categorized her less-than-traditional road to the top, and she can no longer afford consistently disappointing letdowns like in Madrid and Rome. A Jekyll-and-Hyde performer on court, it’s almost as if she still doesn’t know what kind of player she can be.

(For the record, it’s Li Na. We can at least be sure of that.)

33 Responses to The Li Na Conundrum

  • I was curious if you ever thought of changing the
    layout of your site? Its very well written; I love what youve got to say.
    But maybe you could a little more in the way of content so people could connect with
    it better. Youve got an awful lot of text for only having 1 or two pictures.
    Maybe you could space it out better?

  • I am actually grateful to the holder of this website
    who has shared this impressive piece of writing at at this place.

  • I seriously love your website.. Grewat colors & theme.
    Did you creae this amazing site yourself? Please reply back
    ass I’m trying to create my very own website aand would love to knpw where you got this from
    or just what the theme is called. Thank you!

    Feel free to surf to my web page; candy crush saga hack password

  • I have read so many content about the blogger lovers except this post is truly a good paragraph, keep it up.

  • My brother recommended I might like this blog.
    He was entirely right. This post truly made my day.
    You cann’t imagine simply how much time I had spent for this information! Thanks!

  • I’m truly enjoying the design and layout of your blog.
    It’s a very easy on the eyes which makes it much more enjoyable
    for me to come here and visit more often. Did you hire out a designer to create your theme?
    Superb work!

  • Hi there, after reading this awesome post i am as well
    delighted to share my knowledge here with mates.

  • I’ve been surfing online more than 3 hours today, yet I never found any interesting article like yours.

    It is pretty worth enough for me. In my opinion, if
    all site owners and bloggers made good content as you did, the
    internet will be a lot more useful than ever before.

  • Nice post. I was checking continuously this blog and I’m impressed!

    Very useful information particularly the last part :) I care for
    such information much. I was seeking this particular
    information for a very long time. Thank you and best of luck.

  • This post is really a good one it helps new the web people,
    who are wishing for blogging.

  • My family every time say that I am wasting my time here
    at net, but I know I am getting familiarity all the time by
    reading such fastidious posts.

  • Thank you for the good writeup. It in fact was a
    amusement account it. Look advanced to far added agreeable from
    you! By the way, how can we communicate?

  • What’s Going down i’m new to this, I stumbled upon this I’ve discovered It positively useful and it has
    helped me out loads. I’m hoping to contribute & help different customers like its aided me.
    Great job.

  • Asking questions are actually nice thing if you are not
    understanding anything fully, except this post provides nice understanding even.

  • Generally I don’t learn article on blogs, however I wish
    to say that this write-up very pressured me to take a look at and do it!
    Your writing taste has been amazed me. Thank you, very nice article.

  • Just want to say your article is as surprising.
    The clarity on your publish is just nice and i can assume you’re an expert in this subject.

    Fine together with your permission let me to snatch your RSS feed
    to stay up to date with forthcoming post. Thank you one million and please continue the rewarding work.

  • Budget auto insurance is nothing but low monthly premiums.
    We all have to take our children out in the car from time to time, but
    one way to keep them safer is to keep your trips to a minimum; the less time on the road, the
    lower the risk. There is no way to avoid this as a classic auto is regarded as a specialty vehicle expensive to replace.

    Feel free to visit my page Michigan Auto Insurance [http://www.alliance.k12.ec]

  • Wow, awesome weblog format! How lengthy have you been running a blog for?

    you make blogging look easy. The total look of your website is great, let alone the content material!

  • Evelin says:

    Awesome! Its truly awesome paragraph, I have got much clear idea concerning from this post.

  • This is really fascinating, You are a very skilled blogger.
    I have joined your feed and look forward to searching for
    more of your excellent post. Additionally, I’ve shared your website in my social networks

  • This info is priceless. When can I find out more?

  • Lucio says:

    I absolutely love your blog.. Great colors & theme.
    Did you create this site yourself? Please reply back as
    I’m trying to create my own personal blog and would love to learn where you got this from or what the theme is called.
    Cheers!

  • Great post. I used to be checking constantly this blog and
    I’m inspired! Very useful information specifically the closing part :) I maintain such info a lot.

    I was looking for this particular info for a long time. Thanks and best of
    luck.

  • It is the vision for the future and the compass to get you there.
    Put on a gray pin stripe suit and look the Wall Street image.
    Too often we get caught up in preparing written documentation and forget that just hearing a live voice on the other end of the line is much
    more personal.

    Stop by my weblog … Fund Raiser, http://mbservidores.com/?option=com_k2&view=itemlist&task=user&id=93505,

  • quest bars says:

    Hi there, You have done an excellent job. I’ll certainly digg it and personally
    recommend to my friends. I am confident they will be benefited
    from this site.

  • Hmm is anyone else encountering problems with the pictures on this blog loading?
    I’m trying to determine if its a problem on my end or if it’s the blog.
    Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

  • I always emailed this weblog post page to all my contacts, for the reason that if like to read it then my
    links will too.

  • I’m impressed, I have to admit. Seldom do I encounter
    a blog that’s both educative and engaging, and without a doubt,
    you have hit the nail on the head. The problem is something that too few men and women are speaking intelligently
    about. I’m very happy I found this in my hunt for something relating to this.

  • I’m now not certain where you’re getting your information, however good
    topic. I must spend a while studying much more or working
    out more. Thanks for wonderful information I used to be
    in search of this information for my mission.

  • If you desire to grow your knowledge simply keep
    visiting this web page and be updated with the hottest information posted here.

  • quest bars says:

    What’s up mates, how is everything, and what you would like to say about this article, in my
    view its in fact remarkable designed for me. quest bars 3te5r1upyli0w

  • magnificent put up, very informative. I wonder why the other experts of
    this sector don’t understand this. You should continue your
    writing. I am sure, you have a huge readers’ base already!
    mujeres hermosas Cosarmelindo

  • I’m amazed, I must say. Rarely do I come across a blog that’s both
    equally educative and interesting, and let me tell you,
    you have hit the nail on the head. The problem is something not
    enough folks are speaking intelligently about. Now i’m very happy that I came across this in my search
    for something relating to this. mujeres hermosas Cosarmelindo

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


six − 3 =

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>