20 minutes, 11 match points, 1 game: An epic end to an otherwise ordinary match
On the surface, Li Na's 6-1, 6-4 fourth-round win over unseeded Alexsandra Wozniak doesn't jump off the page. But those of you who watched its conclusion know there was much more than this conventional straight-set score.
After winning the first set, the top seed fell behind 0-3 in the second, but took five of the next six games to serve for the match. What followed was tennis' version of the eight-round shootout between the United States and Russia in Olympic ice hockey. Except that this featured 11 do-or-die moments, head-scratching chokes, a controversial call, and took 20 minutes to complete.
The fun got started when Li was up 40-0. Taken to deuce, Li earned a fourth match point, but double-faulted.
Wozniak then earned her first break point, and she appeared to win the game until Li successfully challenged an 'out' call. But the chair umpire refused to give Li the point, even though Wozniak had no chance at returning the shot (higher quality version in above video):
Li admirably recovered, but her self-inflicted struggles would continue, particularly on serve:
Li Na has let 8 match points go, 3 via double faults, in 16+ minute game. Still serving up 6-1, 5-4 over Wozniak— TENNIS.com (@Tennis) March 12, 2014
It was amazing that Li eventually held after letting yet more match points come and go:
*TEN* match points blown on serve by Li Na vs Wozniak. Good grief. #BNPPO14— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) March 12, 2014
Wozniak played her best on the brink of elimination, but she was unable to sustain her level in consecutive points. Finally, on the 11th match point, Li secured a spot in the quarterfinals against Dominika Cibulkova—a rematch of the Australian Open final:
Now, you might be asking yourself, at what time did Li win her 11th match point?
Apropos of nothing, Li won that 11th match point at 11 past the hour. #BNPPO14— TENNIS.com (@Tennis) March 12, 2014
And what did Li have to say afterward?
"I can only say, 'Welcome to the crazy women's tennis tour.'"