Tennis - China's Li Na says that she has changed the grip slightly on her backhand and her serve - which she worked on with coach Carlos Rodriguez in the off-season - something that has helped her improve in the new season. Li Na meets Dominika Cibulkova in the finals of the Australian Open on Saturday - the Chinese player will be playing her fourth grand slam final whereas Cibulkova will be playing her first.
"I changed a lot after season of last year. Of course, the beginning was very tough because I had to forget the old things that I was used to for 20 years. Of course, first couple days or first week was terrible for me because I always think whether I should play with the new one or old one. I think now at least I have tried to change something. Now I use on the court I think pretty good. After being on the tour for so many years, everybody knows exactly what you play on the court. Of course, if I didn't change I can stay in the top 10, top 20, but I cannot be the best in the world. So I really want to push myself to change a little bit, to see. It's very tough to thinking first because if you change maybe you lose old things. How do you put it, I still trust myself, trust Carlos."
Li Na also says that her coach has been working with her to attack the net more often during matches - something that is also paying off for the soon-to-be-32 year old. "I think I have very good volley, yes (smiling). When first time Carlos is telling me, You should come in more on the volley. I was like, What this guy talking about? In the beginning, I was thinking, Huh, why? I will stay baseline for maybe 100 years, never try to come to the net. But after he tried to say the good way for me. I try. I was feeling well. It is not bad. Especially in Wimbledon last year, I was feeling, if I lose the match, at least I tried. I find the new thing for myself. Yeah, I think now is much better than in the beginning."
Speaking to reporters in Melbourne on the day before the final, Na commented, "Of course. If you got more chance come to the final, you got more experience, yeah. So, you know, at least me and Dominika, 50/50. Everyone have chance to win the title. Just come to the court, just play, don't think too much."
How to play from the baseline
The expression “to endure the rally” is about those indeterminate moments of a rally where none of the players is leading.
The ability to endure the rally is fundamental when you play a “long rally”, because it offers you the chance to measure your opponent’s strong points and vulnerabilities, besides letting you position as best as possible for your next offensive shot.