Li comes in from the cold to win in hot Sydney

Mon Jan 7, 2013 12:42pm IST

China's Li Na hits a shot during her first round match against Christina McHale of the U.S. at the Sydney International tennis tournament January 7, 2013. REUTERS/David Gray

China's Li Na hits a shot during her first round match against Christina McHale of the U.S. at the Sydney International tennis tournament January 7, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/David Gray

REUTERS - China's Li Na was forced into a dogfight in the heat before overcoming dogged American Christina McHale 7-6 7-5 to reach thesecond round of the Sydney International on Monday.

The former French Open champion, runner-up in Sydney last year and winner in 2011, took almost two hours to dispatch her the 33rd-ranked opponent in 30-degree temperatures.

Fourth seed Li only arrived in Australia a day earlier, having beaten Klara Zakopalova to win the Shenzhen title, where the temperature outside hovered just above freezing.

"I was playing in China, so I have to (get) used to the heat," Li said of her decision to play Sydney and Shenzhen as she prepared for the Australian Open.

"I couldn't come straightaway to Melbourne. I needed some matches in the heat conditions, otherwise I don't know what I can do in Melbourne."

Adjusting to the heat on Monday, coupled with the long flight from China, the 2011 Australian Open runner-up said she had found the match against McHale mentally tough.

"Yes, very tough because in China it was like five, six degree, but here it's over 30," said the 30-year-old, who was playing an opponent 10 years younger.

"And the jet lag, time change, I was feeling today very tough. I (told) my team ... my legs (feel) like 200 kilos. I couldn't move.

"Yesterday the coach said (the most) important match is today, because today is really not for technique, it's challenging for your mind to show how strong you are on the court."

Li will face Ayumi Morita in the second round after the Japanese qualifier upset former top-10 player Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia 1-6 6-3 6-3.

While Li struggled acclimatising, tournament organisers will be keeping an close eye on weather conditions on Tuesday.

Sydney is expected to hit a maximum of 43 Celsius as Australia swelters in a heatwave that has sparked raging bush fires.

Warm northwest winds are also expected to increase on-court temperatures closer to 50.

Officials will provide shading, ice towels and additional water and sports drinks for the players, while staff will work shorter shifts to try to mitigate the effects of the heat.

(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury in Wellington; Editing by Alastair Himmer)

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Reforms Push

Reforms Push

Modi may order insurance, coal reforms if vote delayed - officials.  Full Article 

Economic Pulse

Economic Pulse

Crank up public spending to revive growth - chief economic adviser.  Full Article 

PM's Moves

PM's Moves

Modi moves in to speed up $300 billion stuck projects.  Full Article 

Going International

Going International

Bollywood’s Priyanka Chopra sets sights on American TV.  Full Article 

Cook Out

Cook Out

Cook out, Morgan in as England ODI captain - reports.  Full Article 

Sony Cyberattack

Sony Cyberattack

Obama vows U.S. response to North Korea over Sony cyberattack.  Full Article 

Obama's Message

Obama's Message

Obama's year-end message to Americans: I'm not a lame duck.  Pictures 

India This Week

India This Week

Some of our best photos from this week.   Full Coverage 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device   Full Coverage