Li Na of China returns a ball to Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia during their first round of the China Open tennis tournament at the National Tennis Stadium in Beijing, China Sunday, Sept. 29, 2013. [Andy Wong / Imagine China]
Chinese number one and 4th seed Li Na was hardly tested in the opening round of the China Open as she swept past Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia in straight sets on Sunday.
The world number five just needed one hour and 30 minutes to defeat her long-time friend 6-0, 6-4 and improved the win/loss record to 3-4.
The first set was lopsided as Li broke her opponent three times and used only 30 minutes to take the set at love.
Hantuchova did not take the first game of the match until she held serve in the fifth game of the second set. The 30-year-old then picked up her momentum to break Li for the first time to pull within 4-3.
However, Li hit the stride in the remaining time before taking the set at 6-4.
"I think I have pretty good start of the match until 4-Love in the second set. But in this level I can not do this, to relax a little bit. You can see the score in second set. If I was relaxing, I just gave my opponent more chances to come back," said Li.
"But I am happy in the end I can win the match. At least I passed the first round."
The 31-year-old Li compiled a consistent season this year, beginning with her seventh career title at the Shenzhen Open, reaching the Australian Open final for the third time and also making the last four at the US Open last month.
"From the matches I played early this year, I think generally I have a very stable performance. I only have a very bad performance in one or two tournaments. So I think this year would be identified as the year that I have the most stable performance," added Li, who has been qualified for the yearending WTA Championships for a third consecutive year.
Li, who reached the last four here in Beijing last year, will be playing against either Serb Bojana Jovanovski or Sorana Cirstea of Romania in the second round.