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Powerful Li quick off the mark

Li Na hits a backhand in her first round match against Ksenia Pervak.
by Ronald Atkin
Monday 25 June 2012

There was an undemanding opening to The Championships for Li Na when she needed just an hour and five minutes to see off Ksenia Pervak, of Kazakhstan, 6-3, 6-1 on Court 12.

The Russian-born Pervak, who switched her nationality at the end of last season, was rarely able to match the power on serve and pace off the ground of the 30-year-old Li, who surprised the tennis world and overjoyed her homeland by winning the 2011 French Open.

Wearing precautionary black strapping on her right knee, Li - China's top sporting heroine and the 11th seed for the ladies' title -  started briskly with a brace of aces and followed with a break of serve - two games which cost her just a couple of points.

The left-handed Pervak battled back admirably to pull level at 3-3, but Li's superior class, allied to a disastrous tendency by the Kazakh to double-fault, told as she swept three straight games to take the opening set in 36 minutes.

Although Pervak has risen 50 places in the rankings since her last Wimbledon appearance in 2011, and now stands at 41 in the world, she was overwhelmed in the second set after holding serve in the opening game.

Li reeled off the next six, conceding a mere three points in three service games, and greeted the crowd's applause at the end with a modest raising of the right hand.

The statistic of 20 clean winners for Li was testimony to her power, while Pervak's total of eight double-faults told its own sad story of where her weakness lies.

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