Sunday, February 3, 2008

China leads France 2-1 in the Federation Cup

By China Watcher

Li Na loses to Virginie Razzano 6-4, 2-6, 4-6 to allow France a point in the tie for a semi-final spot in the Federation Cup on Sunday, 3 February 2008. Yesterday, she overcame a slow start in the opening match to hammer tournament debutante Alize Cornet 6-3, 6-1.

Chinese No. 2 Peng Shuai upset Virginie Razzano 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 in the other match on Saturday in Beijing.

Peng missed the reverse singles Sunday to prepare for this week's Paris Open in order to gain enough points to qualify for Olympics tennis.

"They decided I would play a game today and take a plane tonight to get to France on Monday and play a tournament straight away," Peng said yesterday.

China captain Jiang Hongwei said they had decided to play Yan Zi as the replacement against France's Cornet.

France captain Georges Goven said the change would not affect the team's preparations.

World No. 51 Peng came back from a set down and held her nerve against Razzano, who appeared to tire in the third set.

At 4-4 in the third, the 22-year-old broke Razzano's serve, after forcing three errors through clean returns. She then served out the set 6-4, delighting the small but vocal crowd at the Beijing International Tennis Center.

"Today I felt quite nervous at the start, because it was a home game and I was playing for China for the first time," Peng said.

"In the second set I felt the fans cheering me and urging me not to give in. I felt I played at just about my best level so it felt great to win."

Chinese No. 1 Li appeared nervous in front of her home fans and went 0-2 down to 18-year-old Cornet in the first set, before winning five consecutive games.

Her dominance carried over to the second set, where she broke Cornet immediately, before hammering her 6-1 in an impressive display of powerful strokeplay.

France, having fielded a second-string side after Amelie Mauresmo and Marion Bartoli opted out of the tie, will hope Razzano and Nathalie Dechy can upset former Wimbledon and Australia Open doubles champions Yan Zi and Zheng Jie in the opening rubber today.

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