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Why They'll Win, Why They Won't: Li Na

Saturday, August 24, 2013 /by

The world No. 6 has been one of the most consistent players on the annual North American summer hard-court circuit—until the carnival has come to Queens. A quarterfinalist in 2009, Li is just 2-3 since, despite a Top-10 seeding each time. Last year, after reaching the Montreal final and winning Cincinnati, she lost in the third round of the Open to then-No. 89 Laura Robson. This year, she reached the semis in both of the top tune-up tournaments. But does that actually bode well? Li’s talents are obvious—she possesses some of the smoothest groundstrokes on tour—but her ceiling is tougher to discern. At this year’s Australian Open, it was the final, but she can throw in head-shaking defeats. She’s a player no one, not even the favorites, want to face, yet is entirely beatable.

Why She’ll Win: She has the firepower to compete with the WTA Top 3 and the experience of having won a major title. It’s a combination that nearly earned her a second Slam earlier this year at the Australian Open.

Why She Won’t: Li will likely need to beat both Serena and Vika to win the title, which seems too tall a task for anyone. Also, her serve does not inspire the same awe as her groundies, as it’s prone to being attacked.

Bottom Line: The veteran is still at her peak and is at the top of the WTA’s second tier. She’s more than in the conversation, and her late-round matches will be must-see—win or lose.

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