EASTBOURNE, United Kingdom: China’s Li Na missed her chance for a semi-final spot at the ATP-WTA Eastbourne International on a muggy on Thursday (Friday in Manila) as the second seed lost to Russian Elena Vesnina 7-6 (7/4), 6-3.
Vesnina, winner along with compatriot Ekaterina Makarova of the Roland Garros doubles title less than a fortnight ago, carried confidence from her grand slam trophy onto the slick grass at Devonshire park as she beat her first top 10 opponent in two years.
Australian Open finalist Li was competing at the pre-Wimbledon event for the fifth time and had never advanced past the second round.
She has now lost three of her four matches against Vesnina, five years her junior at age 26.
“Today was a little bit of surprise, the way she’s playing,” said Li. “I think sometimes I can play well, but sometimes I think I lose concentration on the court.
“I would have liked to have some more matches, but I’m looking forward to Wimbledon. Tennis is in the mind and my mind can go somewhere else. That’s my problem right now.”
After play started around an hour late due to mist in the air which made the grass too slippery to play on, Li began with a break of the Russian but was pegged back for 2-2 before Vesnina took the set into a tiebreaker and won it on her first set point after 55 minutes.
In the second set, double-faults spelled doom for Li, who twice was broken on her misfiring serve as Vesnina earned a 5-3 lead after losing a break in the seventh game.
Vesnina then served out the victory to advance into her first career semifinals on grass.
The world number 36 will next face Yanina Wickmayer, who beat sixth seed Maria Kirilenko 6-2, 1-6, 7-5.
Fifth seed Caroline Wozniacki won a two-hour struggle between former champions as she defeated Makarova 4-6, 6-0, 6-3, her sixth win without a loss over the Russian.