Sports / Tennis

Rusty Li bears down to vanquish Keys

By Reuters in Miami (China Daily) Updated: 2014-03-25 07:23

World No 2 Li Na finally made her first appearance at the Sony Open on Sunday, taming Madison Keys in an unsteady effort.

Li displayed some signs of rust in her first match of the tournament after receiving an opening round bye and a walkover when Alisa Kleybanova withdrew from their second-round meeting with illness.

She had to fight off three set points and an early break in the second set before clinching a 7-6 (3), 6-3 win over her American opponent.

Keys, who lives in nearby Boca Raton, had her Chinese opponent on the ropes several times but allowed the experienced Li to escape time and time again.

"She is No 2 in the world for a reason. She just won the Australian Open for a reason," said Keys. "She is a great player.

"I played well at times and she just played the bigger points really, really well.

"There is a lot to be happy with, but there is also some stuff I need to work on."

Li got off to a strong start, grabbing the early break and a 3-1 lead, but the powerful Keys answered with two breaks of her own, surging in front 5-3.

But Keys could not convert any of her three set points, as Li wiggled free with a break and forced the set to a tiebreak, which she easily won 7-3.

The American again had Li under pressure in the second, grabbing the early break to go up 2-0, but could not sustain the pressure as Li, hitting her stride, stormed through the next five games on her way to victory.

"I think it was pretty tough match, she played well, big serve, big forehand, especially when she was 3-1 down and then come back 5-3 up and serve for the first set," said Li.

"During that time I didn't think about too much. I said, 'OK try to hit the ball, try to do what you have to do and save the set point.'

"I think this maybe changed the match a little bit because after that I was feeling her game dropped a little bit."

(China Daily 03/25/2014 page23)

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