China's Li to tweak training schedule as mercury rises

Mon Jan 13, 2014 1:39am EST
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By Ian Ransom

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - China's Li Na will adjust her training schedule in a bid to beat the heat at the Australian Open this week after enjoying more favorable conditions on Monday in a one-sided rout of Croatian teenager Ana Konjuh in her opening match.

Asia's first grand slam singles winner, fourth-seeded Li cantered to a 6-2 6-0 thrashing of last year's junior champion in the second match at Hisense Arena as a mooted 35 degree Celsius day (95 Fahrenheit) failed to materialize.

"I think today was okay," the 31-year-old Li told reporters after wrapping up her match in just over an hour.

"I think it was very lucky we played today. Tomorrow is the worst. But for every player it's the same, so you have to get used to it," said Li who takes on 16-year-old Swiss Belinda Bencic next.

While the other half of the draw will sweat out their opening matches in a baking 41 degree Celsius day forecast for Tuesday, Li said she would likely be cooling her heels.

"I will go earlier," she said of training. "Yeah, I don't want to be killing myself on the court. I always change my schedule a little bit."

Severe heat is expected throughout the opening days before a cool change is forecast to arrive over the weekend, testing the players' fitness and putting the tournament's heat policy under the microscope.

Extreme heat is generally a fixture of the year's first grand slam but organizers have been reluctant to suspend matches.   Continued...

Li Na of China hits a return to Ana Konjuh of Croatia during their women's singles match at the Australian Open 2014 tennis tournament in Melbourne January 13, 2014. REUTERS/Petar Kujundzic