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Tennis: Li back on track after Paris pain

Li Na got back on track after her French Open misery as the Chinese second seed enjoyed a 7-5, 6-2 win over Polish qualifier Paula Kania in the Wimbledon first round on Monday.

LONDON: Li Na admitted she was relieved to get back to winning ways at Wimbledon after cracking under the pressure of challenging for the French Open title.

As a former champion at Roland Garros, where she became the first Asian to win a Grand Slam singles title in 2011, China's Li was desperate to make a strong bid to regain the trophy in Paris this year.

But the 32-year-old, who had won the Australian Open just months earlier, crashed to a first round defeat against Kristina Mladenovic.

It was Li's worst Grand Slam performance since 2011, when she bowed out of the US Open at the same stage, and she responded by taking several weeks off.

Revitalised by her holiday, the two-time Grand Slam champion made a solid start to her Wimbledon campaign with a 7-5, 6-2 win over Polish qualifier Paula Kania on Monday

"I feel pretty good. After a vacation I feel fresh because during the French Open I could feel the pressure was there. I couldn't handle it anymore," Li said.

"If you have a high ranking, you always wish you can do well. Also another player, if they play against you, for them it is nothing to lose. So they just try to play their best.

"For me, I was feeling, even coming into the claycourt season, already I was missing something.

"Especially when I came to Paris, I really wished I could do well. So maybe I put a lot of pressure on myself.

"I needed to take a vacation to think about what I should do in the future. And also the racquets, they need a vacation as well. They cannot see me every day!"

World number two Li will face Austria's Yvonne Meusburger in the second round as she looks to get past the Wimbledon quarter-finals for the first time.

But she admits the quick transition from clay to grass has made it difficult for her to emulate her other Grand Slam successes at Wimbledon.

"I never think I can play well on the grass court. For me it's tough. I think for everyone it's tough because we play on the grass for only one month in the whole year," she said.

"It's pretty close from the French Open to Wimbledon, only two weeks. So it's very tough for me to change the surface."

Kania, ranked 183rd, had never before played a WTA Tour-level match, let alone appeared at a Grand Slam. The 21-year-old showed few signs of being overawed and broke Li in the first game.

But Li finally began to take control just in the nick of time, breaking Kania as she served for the set at 5-4 and then again two games later to snatch the set.

The reigning Australian Open champion finished the job comfortably after surging into a 5-1 lead in the second set.

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