She is 32-year-old, but she just started a second successful career as a tennis player. A new chapter of her life, officially signed with her second Grand Slam victory in Melbourne this January. Set to sit on World No.2 spot at the end of the week, there is no doubt that Na Li is ready to be one of the major starts of this season of women’s tennis.
Asked about the Chinese rising star, American Chris Evert – who holds a total of 18 Grand Slam victories and commented the Australian Open for ESPN – talked to thetennisspace.com and helped us enter Li Na’s World.
How important is tennis in Li Na’s life?
“I like when I have a chance to comment her matches, because I can spend one hour talking about her story, the history of China, of her tattoos, of her education.
Something really interesting I read about her past is the really bad relationship she had with her previous coach. She never received a compliment. Carlos Rodriguez really needed to work a lot on that, trying to let her have more faith and awareness of her potentiality.
I think her story is admirable, I don’t know how many people could survive a communist government. She surely is a unique example for the world of tennis”.
Her coach Carlos Rodriguez did a very good job, don’t you think?
“Yes, mentally! Remember, he used to coach Justine Henin, and that probably wasn’t easy either.
I think he could become a psychologist without even having to study for it”.
Li Na today is better than ever?
“Yes, I think so. You can see she has worked hard to fix her weaknesses, especially the serve.
When she serves now you can see that she tosses the ball higher and utilizes the legs more. I think her serve and game at the net are the two aspects where she has worked more. It’s great to see an over-30 working hard to improve her game.
I find it stimulating”.
Slightly more cautious is Na Li herself, who reveals: “I don’t think this is the best moment of my career. The season has just begun. There are still 10 months to go until the end of the season”.
That said, the Chinese can’t hide her optimism: “future could be even better, I am confident I can still do good, thus I want to show what I can do”.
As a switch to light on this new maturation of the Chinese player, was her victory at the Australian Open in January.
A victory that brought sensations and motivations quite stronger than what the first Slam she conquered three years ago in Paris was able to bring. “It is very different” - said Li -“I feel much better than how I felt after winning the French Open.
After Melbourne I didn’t feel as excited as the first time I won a Slam. I was more conscious, more aware of what happened, thus much more relaxed”.
Talking about her age, Na Li doesn’t think that passed the 30 years old is a disadvantage: “when you reach 30 years old people like to tell you that you are old.
I am rather happy to be 30. I feel in great shape and I feel stronger than I was before”.
“Age means nothing, is just a matter of how you deal with it. With age you have much more experience, which can count to make a difference in tennis”.
Na Li also revealed her secrets to prevent body from injuries: “I take good care of myself. As you can see I never had injuries, unless when I fell on court. I learned what to do in order to avoid injuries.
I learned a lot of things, for example what I can or I can’t eat. I don’t want to lose energy. For instance I like spicy food, but during a tournament I don’t allow myself to eat it because I know it is not always good for your stomach.
I am not a big fan of pasta, but I eat it more often because I know it gives more energy”.
This week Na Li is in Doha, where in the second round of the tournament she could find on the other side of the net Francesca Schiavone, whom she beat in the final of Paris tree years ago.
Doha is a tournament Li Na likes a lot to play in, but there is a tough draw ahead of her: “I can feel the pressure, but I must find a way to calm down” had to say the Chinese about that.
“Even coming here I kept repeating myself not to think about it too much.
Tennis is just a game, thus you shouldn’t put too much pressure on yourself” concluded the World No.3. Follow the author on TWITTER