Li Na produced a scintillating display of tennis to overcome a tired-looking Angelique Kerber 6-4 6-3 in their second match of the WTA Championships this Thursday.
The Chinese number one was impervious on the Istanbul court; displaying a consistency of brilliance she only offered glimmers of against Serena Williams the day before. Whether or not the Williams performance had taught Li a thing or two only she knows, but it was clear her impatience that cost her the match on Wednesday had been replaced by pure composure.
Indeed, Kerber also looked as though she had been affected by her first game of the Championships; although it was evident her loss to Victoria Azarenka had drained her energy.
While Li was sprightly and moving well – trying to banish the inconsistencies of yesterday – Kerber struggled to simply stay in the match after her gruelling three-hour encounter with the world number one.
Kerber started well but lost her way when broken at 4-3: Li producing a swerving pass to take the break before seeing out the set in style. Li charged into the second set and after six games in a row Kerber finally broke back, but the damage had already been done at 5-1 and although her opponent clawed another two games back Li served an ace to win this crucial Red Group match.
On reflection maybe it wasn’t a surprise that Kerber simply couldn’t muster up the energy to match Li, yet the German will still be disappointed that she has two losses to her name when things could have been so much different if she had taken the two match points on offer against Azarenka.