Li Na was defeated in a dramatic encounter with Kim Clijsters which was a replay of last year’s Australian Open final. In the fourth round match, Clijsters took 3 sets to seal the victory, eventually winning 4-6, 7-6 (8-6), 6-4. Along the way, the Belgian player twisted an ankle and remarkably defended 4 match points against the Chinese player.
The drama appeared early in the match when Clijsters turned her ankle at 3-3, 30-30. “(Retiring) definitely crossed my mind at some point, but I knew if I could just try to kind of let the medication sink in or, you know, if I could get through the first 20 minutes, half-hour, I think the pain would go away a little bit and then maybe with the adrenalin I could just fly through it,” Clijsters said.
“I’m happy that I didn’t give up.” She made the correct choice, and although the first set was claimed by Li Na, the second set went all the way to a tie-break. The fifth seed stormed into a 6-2 lead, which looked unassailable until Clijsters started chipping away at it. It was soon 6-5, and the whole stadium held as breath as the Belgian sent a precarious drop shot drifting over the net to make it 6-6.
At this point, Clijsters had all the momentum and took the second set, 8-6 in the tie break. “You know, I’m not saying that forehand drop shot was a good choice, but, you know, you make decisions. Luckily, that one turned out okay,” Clijsters said.
The final set proved almost as close, and while Kim took an early lead, it looked later on as though Li Na was recovering from her shock loss of the tie break. However, Clijsters kept her nerve, and won the third set 6-4. Li Na later admitted that she was nervous going into the match, adding “that’s just normal. I’m not special.”
Clijsters can now look forward to a match in the quarterfinals against the top seed Caroline Wozniacki, and will be hoping that her last Australian Open will turn out to be the defence of the title she won last year. Na will be forced to focus on the other Majors, but can take confidence in the fact that she is one of the favourites according to the best Wimbledon betting odds.