Li Na retires against Pironkova in Paris

Li Na
This week’s tournament in Paris has seen a flurry of withdrawals and this was further compounded on Monday as the number 3 seed, Li Na retired from her match down 7-6 4-2 to Tsvetana Pironkova.  Pironkova raced into a 5-0 lead in just 18 minutes, but was pegged back to 5-5 as Li dominated the next 5 games.  After all the hard work of recovering the deficit, Li played a poor tiebreak as the grass-loving Pironkova took the first set.  Li retired midway during the second set to hand Pironkova an excellent win on the hard courts of Paris.  I wonder how serious Li’s injury was and whether her heart was in the match after the loss of a tight first set.
Mona Barthel continued her incredible winning ways in 2012 with a straightforward 6-3 6-2 victory over Barbara Zahlavova Strycova.  It was Barthel’s 15th victory of the year as she made her way through three rounds of qualifying to make the main draw in Paris.  Julia Goerges was equally impressive as she eased past Shahar Peer, 6-1 6-3.  Goerges hit an astonishing 35 winners in just 51 minutes of play and with Li’s early exit, my tip of a semi-final spot for the German looks very promising.  My other tip to reach the semi-final was not so lucky; Lucie Safarova was beaten by Angelique Kerber who produced the more consistent performance in a 6-2 7-6 victory.  
In other matches, Petra Cetkovska, Petra Martic and Chanelle Scheepers all won their first round matches with straight set wins.  Scheepers has made a promising start to the season despite early losses in two of her three tournaments.  The three losses she suffered were to Serena Williams, Li Na and Svetlana Kuznetsova and she was not disgraced in any of them, winning a set against both Li and Kuznetsova.  It doesn’t get much easier for Scheepers who will play Maria Sharapova in the next round but I fancy if Sharapova is still under the weather then an upset could be on the cards…

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