Tennis: China's best crashes out early

By Dana Johannsen

Li Na. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Li Na. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Little more than an hour after Kiwi star Marina Erakovic was bundled out of the first round, the ASB Classic lost another major drawcard with second seed Li Na of China crashing to a heavy defeat.

Li Na was outclassed by big-hitting Estonian Kaia Kanepi, who made surprising light work of the world number 15, claiming a straight sets victory 6-1, 6-3.

After the match a shellshocked Li Na, the most successful tennis player in her country's history, admitted she had no answer for Kanepi's power game.

"Everyone can see she had huge serve and she was hitting the ball so hard I could do nothing," she said.

"I was trying to play my own game but I could do nothing, she controlled every point."

Kanepi was pleased to hear her opponent found the going so tough, particularly given the conditions meant she had to play within herself somewhat.

"I'm very happy to hear that, it gives me a lot of confidence," the world number 58 said.

"Because of the wind I didn't go for full power on any of my first serves, I just tried to get them in."

Kanepi said she was delighted to start off the year with such a dominant performance and believes if she can continue her strong form she is a good chance for the title.

"I feel very satisfied, there were only a few games where I didn't do too good, but otherwise it was very good."

Kanepi will take on Russian Maria Kirilenko in today's second round.

The most competitive match-up of the day is likely to be between Frenchwoman Alize Cornet, who yesterday dispatched Erakovic, and Russia's Elena Vesnina.

Vesnina, the tournament's sixth seed, looked impressive in her 6-1, 6-4 win over Alberta Brianti of Italy.

Fourth seed Francesca Schiavone of Italy was relatively untroubled in her opening match-up, easing in to the second round 6-2, 6-3 over French qualifier Stephanie Cohen-Aloro.

Schiavone will take on Indian star Sania Mirza in today's second round, after Mirza battled to a 5-7, 6-1, 7-5 win over Stefanie Voegele of Switzerland.

Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro booked a meeting with top seed Flavia Pennetta, overcoming Romanian Edine Gallovits in her opening round match up. The other big name in action today is Belgian Yanina Wickmayer, who takes on Ioana Raluca Olaru after the Romanian thoroughly dismantled Great Britain's Elena Baltacha 6-2, 6-2 in the quickest match of the opening round.

- NZ Herald

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