China tennis star Li Na has hunger back

15 Jan 2012 07:46

Chinese star Li Na says she has rediscovered her hunger after a major slump following her breakthrough French Open win last year when she became the first Asian to win a grand slam singles title.

Li reached the semi-finals of the Australian Open in 2010 and lost in last year's final to Kim Clijsters at Melbourne Park.

She went one better at Roland Garros in June, beating Italy's Francesca Schiavone in the final but then suffered a severe dip in form, winning only seven matches during the rest of the year.

The 29-year-old, who reached the final of the Sydney International last week, beating world number two Petra Kvitova along the way, said she had lost her desire during her poor run of form, but had now found it again.

"In the second half of last year I think I couldn't win three matches in a row. I felt like I was losing all my confidence on the court," she said on Sunday on the eve of the Australian Open, the year's opening grand slam.

"Now I'm feeling hungry again," she added, saying she was feeling fresh after a short break from the game.

"I don't know about other players but I needed time to recover off the tennis court," she said.

"I took like one week off, no fitness, no tennis. I just really needed to relax and after that, I felt much, much better."

"Right now I don't feel any pressure but before, like at the end of the last year I was feeling pressure, not from my team but from outside," she added.

Li said she had taken confidence from her good start to 2012, despite her defeat in the final of the Sydney International by Victoria Azarenka.

The Chinese fifth seed opens her campaign on Monday against Kazakhstan's Ksenia Pervak and has a relatively smooth path until the fourth round, where she faces a possible 2011 final rematch against Clijsters.