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李娜第三次杀入澳网决赛

更新时间:2014-1-24 13:53:22 来源:华尔街日报中文网 作者:佚名

Li Na Reaches Third Australian Open Final
李娜第三次杀入澳网决赛

Li Na's coach unzips his tennis bag, pulls out a racket and grips it like a hammer, with the strings perpendicular to the ground. He turns his hand an eighth of an inch to the left so his knuckles point ever so slightly upward.

This grip is commonly used by tennis professionals on serves and backhands. It helps with spin and control.

Li, who Thursday reached her third Australian Open final, never used to hold a racket like this. Her coach, Carlos Rodriguez, figured it would be crazy to suggest the former Grand Slam champion make such a fundamental change to her game, especially given Li's age when they met.

'If somebody says you want to change the grip on the serve for somebody who is 31 years old, you say, 'Please, go home,'' said Rodriguez, who used to coach former No. 1 Justine Henin.

But Li, he said, is unlike most players. 'She has this feeling,' Rodriguez said, pointing to his hands and wiggling his fingers. 'She is like a kid of 20 years old. She's ready to change and do whatever she needs to do to improve.'

So the 31-year-old adjusted her serve grip, and her backhand grip, too. When she is under pressure, she puts more spin on her second serve and her backhand, which reduces her errors, Rodriguez said.

'Before, when she was tight, the ball was flying,' Rodriguez said. 'Now she can come a little bit over the ball.'

Li is on the verge of winning her first title at the Australian Open. After her 6-2, 6-4 victory over Eugenie Bouchard, Li is back in the final here for the third time. In 2011, she lost to Kim Clijsters. Last year, she lost to Victoria Azarenka. During that match, she fell down twice, one time hitting her head on the court. In both finals, she won the first set and lost the next two.

Saturday, Li will be the favorite against surprise finalist Dominika Cibulkova, the No. 20 seed who beat Agnieszka Radwanska 6-1, 6-2 in Thursday's other semifinal. Li seemed to sense that this might be her moment, but tried to keep her expectations in check.

'Pretty close to the trophy,' she said. 'At least I try to not [fall] down this time.'

Li, who won the French Open in 2011, has long been one of the most talented women in tennis. She's an excellent mover and a powerful ball striker, one of few who can match the aggressive strokes of Serena Williams, the sport's most powerful female player. Rodriguez, who began working with Li in the summer of 2012, has encouraged her to approach the net more and to add more variety to her baseline game with slices and chips, the tools that Henin used so well.

'Justine learned everything when she was 10, 12, 14,' Rodriguez said. 'Li Na, she had one path at the beginning, baseline, baseline, hit, hit.' But Li has incorporated new skills with uncommon ease, Rodriguez said. 'She is unique,' he said. 'Her potential is unbelievable.'

Li's confidence hasn't always been quite as impressive. Last year, she considered retiring after losing at a Wimbledon warm-up tournament in Eastbourne. She decided to play Wimbledon and lost in the quarterfinals. That result, she says, motivated her to carry on.

It often takes luck to win a Grand Slam tennis tournament, and Li has had lots of it in Australia. In the third round against Lucie Safarova, she faced a match point. Safarova, a hard-hitting lefty, missed a down-the-line winner by an inch or so. After the match, Li said she felt she had been given a second life at the tournament.

Some more good fortune: Li could win this event without playing a single player who has won a Grand Slam singles title, or for that matter anyone seeded higher than No. 20. It's a rare chance, and probably her best, to win a second major. Asked if she felt fortunate, she gave a cautious answer.

'Until now, yes,' she said.

李娜的教练卡洛斯•罗德里格斯(Carlos Rodriguez)拉开他的网球包,取出一只球拍,像握锤子似的握着拍柄,拍面与地面垂直。他把手向左移了八分之一英寸,让指关节略微朝上。

这是职业网球手发球和反手击球时的常见握拍动作,这种握拍便于处理旋转球,也便于控制球。

不过周四第三次杀入澳网决赛的李娜从来不这样握拍。罗德里格斯觉得,让李娜这个前大满贯冠军在比赛中彻底改变握拍方式是不可想像的,他认识李娜的时候她的年龄已经摆在那儿了。

罗德里格斯说,如果你想改变一个已经31岁的网球手的发球握拍方式,那请你趁早打消这个念头。罗德里格斯曾指导过前世界排名第一的网球选手贾斯汀•海宁(Justine Henin)。

但罗德里格斯说,李娜和大多数网球选手不一样,她有这种感觉。罗德里格斯指了指自己的手、摆动着手指。他说,李娜就像一个20岁的运动员,只要有值得改进的地方,她就随时准备调整。

31岁的李娜也就真的改变了自己发球和反手握拍的方式。罗德里格斯说,李娜面临压力时会增加二发和反手球的旋转以减少失误。

罗德里格斯说,在这之前,李娜紧张的时候会把球打飞,现在可以略微控制住球了。

李娜距离她的首个澳网冠军还有一步之遥。在以6比2和6比4直落两局击败加拿大选手布沙尔(Eugenie Bouchard)后,李娜第三次杀入澳网决赛。李娜在2011年澳网公开赛中败给了克里斯特尔斯(Kim Clijsters),去年败给了阿扎伦卡(Victoria Azarenka),在与阿扎伦卡对阵时,李娜两次摔倒,有一次头部撞到了球场地面。这两次比赛李娜都是赢了第一盘而输了后两盘。

本周六,李娜将成为夺冠的大热门,对阵以黑马姿态闯入决赛的20号种子选手齐布科娃(Dominika Cibulkova),后者在周四的另一场半决赛上以6-1、6-2的比分击败了拉德万斯卡(Agnieszka Radwanska)。李娜似乎感觉到这会是她的辉煌时刻,但极力克制着期望。

她说,离奖杯已经很近了,至少这次我会努力不要跌倒。

李娜在2011年赢得法网公开赛冠军,她一直是最有天赋的女子网球选手之一。她步伐灵活,击球强有力,是少数能与小威廉姆斯(Serena Williams)的大力击球相媲美的选手之一,小威廉姆斯是网球运动最有力量的女选手。2012年夏季开始与李娜合作的罗德里格斯鼓励她更多地靠近网前,并以切球和削球为她的底线打法增加更多的变化,海宁非常擅长这样的技巧。

罗德里格斯说,海宁在她10岁、12岁、14岁时就学会了所有的技巧。而李娜一开始只有一条路,底线、底线、击球、击球;但李娜十分轻松地掌握了新技巧。他说,她很特别,她的潜力令人难以置信。

李娜并非一直具备这样令人印象深刻的自信。去年她在伊斯特本输掉了为温布尔顿公开赛热身的锦标赛,之后曾经考虑挂拍。她决定参加温布尔顿公开赛,但在四分之一决赛中失利。她说,那次的比赛结果激励她坚持下去。

要在网球大满贯赛事中夺冠常常需要运气,而李娜这次在澳大利亚运气很不错。在第三轮对阵萨法洛娃(Lucie Safarova)时,李娜曾面临一个赛点。萨法洛娃左手执拍,力量很大,她的一个直线致胜球出线了一英寸左右。在这场比赛后,李娜说她觉得自己在澳网重获新生。

还有更多的好运气:李娜这次澳网征程的对手没有一个赢得过大满贯单打冠军,也没有任何排名在20以内的种子选手。这是她赢得第二个大满贯冠军的罕有机会,或许也是她最好的机会。当被问及她是否觉得自己幸运时,她给出了谨慎的回答。

她说,到目前为止,答案是肯定的。

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