Beijing: World number one Serena Williams and home favourite Li Na both reached last 16 at the ongoing China Open Tuesday. But they followed different paths in respective second round matches.
Williams saved three set points in the second set and edged Italian Francesca Schiavone in a tight two-setter to move into third round while Li made short work of Serb Bojana Jovanovski 6-0, 6-1, Xinhua reported.
Having lost just one game to her at the US Open last month, Williams had to grind it out against Schiavone at the Premier Mandatory-level event, winning an extremely tight two-setter to move past.
At the beginning of the match it looked like it was going to be another mismatch - Williams fired three consecutive aces to hold serve. Then she got to double break point in Schiavone's first service game - but Schiavone held, and the two kept holding until Williams finally got the break to take the set at 6-4.
Schiavone retaliated straight away though, breaking in the first game of the second set and building a 5-3 lead. The Italian even had three set points in that 5-3 game - but the No.1-seeded Williams saved them all, eventually running off 15 of the last 17 points of the set to close the match out at 6-4, 7-5.
"It didn't surprise me," Williams said. "I was definitely more surprised that I played so well in the Open, but it was a different circumstance - even though the scoreline looked much easier at the Open, it wasn't an easy match. But as for Francesca playing so well today, I wasn't surprised about that."
Unlike Williams, Chinese number one Li used just 53 minutes to take down Jovanovski, a player ten years her junior. With the victory, Li improved the win/loss record to 3-0.
Li converted on all her six break points while never gave her opponent any breaking chances throughout the match.
Coming up next for Li is German Sabine Lisicki, the runner-up of Wimbledon this year. The No. 13 seed fired 29 winners to beat Venus Williams 6-1, 6-2 and also close the match in 53 minutes.
"Lisicki is playing solid game this season, but so am I. So I'm not worried about my next match, just give my best and it's enough," said the 31-year-old Li.