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Tennis: Li loving life despite weight of expectations

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

China's Li Na is loving her tennis life, despite elevated expectations and an inevitable smattering of nay-sayers who still think her two Grand Slam titles are a fluke.

"Of course I always hear a lot," the world number two said Monday after booking her fourth-round berth at the Indian Wells hardcourt tournament with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Czech Karolina Pliskova.

"So many people say 'Oh, she's lucky.' After I won the French, after I won in Australia, they say 'Oh, she's lucky, she cannot win anymore, blah, blah, blah.

"I say, that's OK, doesn't matter. I already have two (Grand Slams) in my pocket. Nobody can take it. I still love tennis life, I don't care what other people say."

If the critics don't get to her, Li admitted that she is having to learn how to handle herself now that she's coming into big tournaments as a favorite.

The world number two is the top seed at Indian Wells for the first time, and admitted it was a different feeling.

"I try to feel the same, but it is different. Before if I came to a tournament maybe I was like number six or number seven seed. Now it's high attention, everyone is focused (on me)."

So far she has thrived in the spotlight in the California desert, although she has yet to headline a night session.

Li has been the first match on stadium court in both of her matches here, and while she said she's not a morning person she enjoys the convenience of knowing she won't have to wait for another match to finish to go on.

She joked that the early wake-up call contributed to a bevy of early double faults.

She overcame nine of them in the match en route to the victory over the 67th-ranked Pliskova.

It was something she said she would work on before her next match, when she will take on Canadian Aleksandra Wozniak, a 6-1, 6-7 (3/7), 6-0 winner over 21st-seeded Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/140310/tennis-li-loving-life-despite-weight-expectations