Stuttgart. The Chinese Na Li sprung the surprise of the day at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix but for Serena Williams (USA) it was an unexpected exit. The world No. 1 and winner of the US Open, who had a first round bye, was defeated 0-6, 6-4, 6-1 by the No. 30 on Wednesday and was clearly disappointed.
The No. 1 from the USA can still be seen in the doubles. Together with her sister Venus, she will meet the Czechs Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka in the second round on Thursday.
“The first set was so easy for Serena. It was all over after 20 minutes,” said Na Li after her win and explained in her friendly and charming way how she lit the Chinese fireworks and turned the match around: “I looked up at the clock and saw that the first set was over in 20 minutes. So I told myself to stay on court for at least an hour and then I might have a chance. It worked. I obviously feel I can soon become a Top Ten player but I was out of the game for 11 months in the past two years. My goal for 2009 – no more injuries and I want to play twelve months in a row. Then I’ve got a chance of getting in to the Top Ten.”
At the Olympic Games in Beijing, the Chinese beat Serena’s sister Venus in the quarterfinals. Which win is more important to her? Smiling, she said: “Both are important for me.”
The last match of the day in front of 4,200 Centre Court spectators in the Porsche Arena saw Elena Dementieva (Russia), the world No. 4 overcome Sybille Bammer (Austria) 6-1, 6-4. Her opponent on Thursday will be Victoria Azarenka (Belarus), who won 6-1, 7-5 against Agnieszka Radwanska (Poland). The last two first round matches produced wins for Vera Zvonareva and Patty Schnyder. The Russian won 6-3, 6-2 against Daniela Hantuchova (Slovakia) and will face Marion Bartoli (France) in the next round. The Swiss triumphed 6-4, 4-6, 7-5 against Svetlana Kuznetsova (Russia), the No. 5 seed. Her opponent in the second round also comes from Russia: Nadia Petrova, the winner of the 2006 Porsche Tennis Grand Prix.
Top seeds Kveta Peschke/Rennae Stubbs (Czech Republic/Australia) were convincing 6-1, 6-1 winners against the Poles Klaudia Jans/Alicja Rosolska in the doubles on Wednesday. Three sets were however needed by the Croatian/Ukrainian team Jelena Kostanic Tosic/Tatiana Perebiynis before they overcame – 6-7 (7), 6-1, 1-0 – the sisters Alona and Kateryna Bondarenko from the Ukraine. The Czechs Renata Voracova and Barbora Zahlavova Strycova are also through to the next round after beating Dominika Cibulkova/Nadia Petrova (Slovakia/Russia) 7-5, 6-3.
photos Janos Schmidt