- POSTED: 13 Jan 2014 16:49
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China's Li Na stormed into the Australian Open second round on Monday with a straight-sets demolition of junior champion Ana Konjuh.
MELBOURNE: China's Li Na stormed into the Australian Open second round on Monday with a straight-sets demolition of junior champion Ana Konjuh as she set about ending her tournament jinx.
The likeable world number four, who revealed in a newspaper interview Monday that she almost quit last year, blasted past the 16-year-old Croatian qualifier 6-2, 6-0.
Li has made the final at Melbourne Park twice before and led both times before being overcome by Kim Clijsters in 2011 and Victoria Azarenka last year.
Last year was particularly painful for the crowd favourite who rolled her ankle in the final. She then went down on it a second time and banged her head so hard that she blacked out.
She eventually lost the final to Azarenka but won a new set of fans.
On Monday, Li was greeted warmly on Hisense Arena and had little trouble against Konjuh, who was making her Grand Slam debut.
Li rattled through the first set, warming to her task as she gave the teenager, who won the girls' singles title at Melbourne last year, a tennis lesson.
The second set was a formality with Konjuh almost a bystander.
It was an impressive start for Li, who is in form after reaching the season-ending WTA Championships final last year and starting 2014 with victory at the Shenzhen Open.
But she would not have been competing at all if she had gone through with a threat to quit last year.
The charismatic Chinese told the Melbourne Age that she almost didn't play Wimbledon after a second round defeat at Roland Garros and a quarter-final loss at Eastbourne.
"When we were arriving in Wimbledon, I said to (coach) Carlos (Rodriguez) 'Eh Carlos, look I want to retire'", Li said.
She said Rodriguez convinced her to give Wimbledon and go and decide her future afterwards. She made the last eight, which convinced her to keep going.
Li, who turns 32 next month and faces a potential semi-final against Serena Williams, next plays another qualifier in Swiss Belinda Bencic, who beat Japanese veteran Kimiko Date-Krumm.