MELBOURNE, Jan. 13 (Xinhua) -- Chinese tennis star Li Na headed into the 2013 Australian Open, the season's first grand slam, full of confidence after winning in Shenzhen and reaching last four at the Sydeny International.
"I'm always looking forward to Australian Open," said Li at a press conference on Sunday. "This is my favorite grand slam. You can see all the friends. I just feel that time is running so fast because you can only see them once every year."
Li was eliminated in the fourth round of last year's Australian Open after blowing four match points but now the Chinese world No. 6 is back to winning ways, with the help from new coach Carlos Rodriguez, former handler of seven-time Grand Slam-winner Justine Henin. Li started the year by winning in Shenzhen.
"Carlos tried to make me feel more relaxed ahead of the first round. I feel more relaxed working with him. He never gives me pressure. He says, 'You never know what will happen on the tennis court, so just try to win the first round. If you can't win the first round, nothing will happen after'," Li said before her first round match against Kazakhstan's Sesil Karatantcheva on Monday.
Being among the leading contenders at Melbourne Park, the 2011 French Open winner Li was stopped by Kim Clijsters of Belgium in the 2011 final and last year's fourth round in Australia. Asked whether she was happy not to have to play Clijsters, who retired last year, Li said: "Why should I be happy? I was really looking forward to playing her again."
"I played her last year in the fourth round. I never had a chance to come back, so I'm not happy." She added. "Every time I play against her, it's always a tough match. It's a really good challenge."