|Li Na of China returns the ball during the women's singles quarterfinal match against Petra Kvitova of Czech Republic at the China Open tennis tournament in Beijing, Oct. 4, 2013. Li lost the match 1-2. (Xinhua/Li Wen)
By Sportswriters Wang Jimin, Wang Yong
BEIJING, Oct. 4 (Xinhua) -- Chinese No. 1 Li Na squandered a 3-1 lead in the deciding third set to lose to ninth seed Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic 4-6, 6-2, 6-4 in the quarterfinals of the China Open on Friday.
Kvitova's win was highlighted by a pair of big runs -- five games in a row from 2-all in the second set, four games in a row from 3-1 down in the third - and after two hours and 31 minutes, Kvitova sent the world No. 5 packing.
With the victory, Kvitova has improved her win/loss record against Li to 3-3.
"I think my performance in this match was good. To play Kvitova, we have wins and losses. I think she has better control in terms of the big points," said Li, who reached the semifinals here last year.
Kvitova has been in top form in the Asian swing, winning the Tokyo title last week and before knocking down Li. She also dismissed the No. 5 seed Sara Errani in the third round at the China Open.
"I have no excuse. I think the return of serve from Kvitova was very good. Also she had a lot of deep balls," Li said.
"Maybe I need to improve my serve. I think I improve already, but if I want to get more easy points, I should do that with even more hard training," she added.
Li, 31, and Kvitova, 23, both played solid game but Kvitova was more efficient in the match, creating 18 breaking points and converting on seven of them, while Li, who was troubled by her poor first serve and had a total of 11 double faults, only had nine breaking chances and capitalised on five of them.
In spite of the loss, Li was satisfied with her overall performance this season. The former French Open winner compiled a consistent season this year, beginning with her seventh career title at the Shenzhen Open, reaching the Australian Open final for the third time and also making the last four at the US Open last month.
Before the China Open, Li has secured her berth to the WTA Championships, which is her third consecutive appearance at the yearending tournament.
"I was really happy all the year what I'm doing on the court. Also, I was feeling much stronger. It's not only about technique. It's about mindset. Doesn't matter how the score on the court, I still believe I can win the match."
Li has expected to be in top three or win another Grand Slam title before the start of the season, but for now it's up in the air after the China Open defeat.
"Maybe I still have a chance, like after Melbourne. Maybe just like couple of matches. If I win, maybe I can make the goal."