BEIJING: Top men’s player Novak Djokovic was humbled by women’s number five Li Na in a light-humored charity match in Beijing on Friday, battling both the home crowd favorite and rules that were heavily in her favor.
As Asia’s first singles Grand Slam winner, 2011 French Open champion Li is used to breaking barriers in a sport she has pioneered in China.
But with the 31-year-old giving herself an advantage of at least 30-0 in the five games she played against Serbia’s Djokovic, the light-hearted match never threatened to slip from her grasp – despite the 3-2 scoreline.Li and Djokovic traded shots, as well as well-mannered banter across the nets in the match that was watched by 12,000 spectators at the end of an evening of friendly competition between the pair at Beijing’s Olympic Park.
The exhibition match was organized to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the China Open, where qualifying matches were being played earlier Friday.
The sport’s original inter-gender contest was played 40 years ago between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs.