China's Li ready for repeat Robson roadblock
Li Na of China returns a shot to Sofia Arvidsson of Sweden on August 28, 2013 in New York. Li breezed into the third round of the US Open, and a revenge match against Britain's Laura Robson, with a 6-2, 6-2 triumph Wednesday over 100th-ranked Swede Sofia Arvidsson.
Li, the 2011 French Open champion, needed only 64 minutes to book a date with 30th seed Robson, who ousted Li in the third round last year at Flushing Meadows.
"I think both of us have improved a lot," Li said. "I'm really looking forward to playing against her. I would like to show her what I can do on the court and see how different we are.
"For sure a really challenging, lefty, aggressive player. Also, I can prove to myself after one year whether I can do better than last year."
Robson eliminated France's Caroline Garcia 6-4, 7-6 (7/5), but Li finished ahead of rain that delayed the start of Robson's match for more than four hours.
"It's tough for them. It's comforting for me, just relax for the rest of the day and do whatever I want," Li said.
"At least I've done my job. I was so lucky before the rain came that I finished the match so I don't have to wait and warm up and come to the court again."
Li, the first Chinese player to win a Grand Slam title with her Roland Garros triumph, was a runner-up at this year's Australian Open, but her best US Open finish was a 2009 run to the quarter-finals.
She hoped for a similar charge last year before Robson doomed those plans.
Court speed is cited as an improvement for Li, even at age 31, but she says she has always been as fast as she is now.
"So many people say I'm even faster than before," Li said. "I say no, I just change a little bit different."
Li, wearing a right knee brace, broke in the second game of the match and again in the final game of the first set to win it in 32 minutes. After an early exchange of breaks, Li won the final four games of the second set.
"After win it looks like easy match, but is not really easy," Li said. "Last time I played her was very tough second set. I improved a little bit my serve and come to the net more."
The 31-year-old from Wuhan fired four aces and 29 winners in all as she improved to 3-0 against Arvidsson.
"I was pretty happy," Li said. "I followed the game plan."
Coach Carlos Rodriguez, the former mentor for Justin Henin, guides Li and has made a difference on and off the court.
"I feel pretty good working with him. We talk a lot to know each other pretty well," Li said.
"A coach for me not only is about tennis coaching. He teaches me a lot like off the court as well. He tells me a lot about (his) experience, communication with friends and family, so many things."
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