Rodriguez: Against Serena, Li must serve well, believe more

by: Matt Cronin October 26, 2013

AP Photo

ISTANBUL, Turkey—Coach Carlos Rodriguez says that Li Na has to play more freely and display more self-belief if she is going to be able to upset Serena Williams in the final of the WTA Championships. Williams is 9-1 against the former Roland Garros champion and defeated her 6-0, 6-3 in the semifinals of this year’s U.S. Open. In their last four hard-court matches, Li has been unable to take a set off Williams. Li admits that before their U.S. Open semi she had lost the match before she got on court because she didn’t believe she could win .

“Serena ın front of you, it’s at least not easy,” Rodriguez told a small group of reporters. “Now the event, the atmosphere around this match in U.S. Open, like maybe here tomorrow, is something the only thing besides winnıng and losing ıs fırst step by step try to deal with the situation, which means, fırst, get the best of yourself there, then if you’re better than Serena that is another question. In the U.S. Open it wasn’t fight. Serena is too good, but at the same time Li Na help her to be good.”

Rodriguez, who successfully coached Justine Henin to numerous victories over Williams, said that Li has to find a way to get Serena’s massive serve back, but also must also serve well herself to have a chance at the upset.

“As long as she keeps her serve—and with Serena it’s not easy at all—you can go to the tiebreak and then you never know. I think that Serena is the only player in the tour today able to do five kinds of different first serves in one game, which is very unusual. You don’t find a player like that. We work a lot on that, and I want to see tomorrow if she gets something there, and maybe we see at least a nice battle. That is the only wish that I have, that she can express herself. The score, we will see after. But first is battle.”

When jokingly asked whether he would ask Henin—who was one of Williams most intense rivals—to come sit with him in the players box so as to possibly psyche Serena out, Rodriguez said with a laugh: “Could be. Maybe I bring Justine next time—on-court coaching.”

More Stories

Roger Federer, sporting a new beard, gets wild with Bear Grylls

The Australian Open champ appeared in a segment on NBC's "Running Wild with Bear Grylls."

Top-seeded Milos Raonic defeats Tim Smyczek in Delray Beach

In other action, No. 3 seed Jack Sock defeated Radu Albot, 6-4, 7-6 (2). 

PODCAST: Harrison claims long-awaited title—and he's still just 24

The guys also discuss Karolina Pliskova and Roger Federer, who will play through 2019.