China's Li learns fast to win in Tokyo
Tue Jan 30, 2007 7:51 AM GMT
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By Alastair Himmer
TOKYO, Jan 30 (Reuters) - China's Li Na continued her fine early season form by thrashing American Lilia Osterloh 6-3 6-2 in the first round of the Pan Pacific Open on Tuesday.
Sixth seed Li, who had never previously played on the slick indoor carpet in Tokyo, took advantage of rules allowing on-court coaching at the $1.3 million tournament to cruise into the last 16. "When I practiced on the court I thought 'How can they play on this?'" Li told Reuters. "I needed to talk to my coach during the match too... but I think I played okay."
The fast-improving Li reached the semi-finals in Sydney before pushing Martina Hingis to three sets in the fourth round of the Australian Open.
"I had a good start in Sydney," Li said. "After Sydney, I told myself I could do it. My ranking has never been top 20 and now I'm 17 I know I can play better."
Meanwhile, fifth seed Ana Ivanovic also advanced to the second round, the Serb overpowering American Shenay Perry 6-4 6-2.
However, Slovakia's Daniela Hantuchova became the first big-name casualty when she beaten 6-4 6-4 by Italian Roberta Vinci.
Eighth seed Hantuchova, once a top-five player, paid the price for an error-strewn performance as she fell to her second first-round defeat in four tournaments in 2007.
In other matches, qualifier Nicole Pratt of Australia beat American Meghann Shaughnessy 6-7 6-1 6-4 while Severine Bremond trounced fellow Frenchwoman Marion Bartoli 6-0 6-2. World number one Maria Sharapova and four-times champion Hingis head a quality field in Tokyo. The top four seeds received first round byes.