London. China’s Li Na took the express route into the second round at Wimbledon with an emphatic 6-3, 6-1 victory over Ksenia Pervak of Kazakhstan on Monday.
After a frustrating clay-court campaign which included a disappointing fourth round defeat at the French Open, Li looked right at home on the lush lawns of the All England Club.
She was far too strong for Pervak and brushed aside the 21-year-old in little more than an hour to set up a second round meeting with either Romania’s Sorana Cirstea or France’s Pauline Parmentier.
Just 12 months ago, Li arrived at Wimbledon on the crest of a wave after winning the French Open to become the first Asian to hold a Grand Slam singles title.
But that triumph at Roland Garros has proved something of a burden for Li, who has struggled to cope with the significantly increased expectations and demands on her time that come with such a landmark victory.
Her form has suffered as a result, and the world number 11 hasn’t got past the fourth round of a grand slam since winning in Paris.
But Li admitted last week that the one upside to her slump has been a return to relative anonymity.
With that in mind, the 30-year-old must have been delighted to be scheduled to face Pervak far from the spotlight out on Court 12.
There was an undeniable spring in Li’s step as she made a fast start, breaking for a 2-0 lead.
Russian-born Pervak, who changed her nationality to Kazakhstan at the end of 2011, reached the last 16 on her Wimbledon debut last year.
But Li’s combination of experience and power proved far too much for the world number 41.
After a brief stumble when she dropped serve in the third game, Li made the decisive break for a 5-3 advantage before serving out the set.
The Chinese star quickly took control of the second set with a break to move 2-1 ahead and romped to victory with two more breaks.