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28/01/2011 10:02 CEST - AUSTRALIAN OPEN

Na Li (28 Gennaio)

Na Li

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Q. You just finished a practice. How are you feeling?
NA LI: Feeling? Feeling good. More quiet in here because many players left already. You know, first time to be the final, of course exciting.
But I didn't have the experience be in final, so I don't know.

Q. Is it a lot of fun? Are you enjoying the moment or getting very nervous?
NA LI: I enjoy it, yeah.

Q. You are the first east Asian player in the final of a Grand Slam. I am Japanese. But as an east Asian, I am very proud and happy for you. Could you talk about what kind of impact you are going to make in east Asian countries, and talk a little bit about what kind of impact you get from Japanese players such as Kimiko Date or Ai Sugiyama?
NA LI: Of course, I excited I can be in final of the Grand Slam. And also I still believe in Asia they still have a lot of good player. Like I was young I watched Kimiko play. Yeah, now I have the chance to play against her like same tournament.
Also, yeah, I mean, all the Japanese player was fighting a lot on the court. This is what we saw in all the world, so...
Yeah, yesterday I just win the match, went back to the locker room. I turn on my phone. A lot of messages coming. I think the match they show same time in China, so many friend to watch. They just say, Congratulations, something.
Yeah, my best friend just called me. She's cry on the phone, you know. I was like, Okay, take it easy. What you want to say? Just calm down. She was like (simulating crying). I didn't know what to say.
I was feeling maybe amazing day for the friend, for my family, for me.

Q. How many messages?
NA LI: 44.

Q. There were about 20 last year, weren't there?
NA LI: Yeah, all from friend. Maybe have some friend that we didn't have contact for 10 years, and now that they saw the match they just send me text message.

Q. What did you first think when you woke up this morning? Had it sunk in you were playing in a Grand Slam final?
NA LI: I was wake up. No, because the funny thing is I was playing Sydney. I know the same time Queensland have some tough time. So my physio, Alex, say, Okay, also was rain in Melbourne. So he say, Okay, best that we stay here. So I will play final.
And then in Melbourne, he say, Oh, January so cold. That's why we stay here. So I play final again, so I just make the joke for him. Next time I play tournament, you should say the same to me. Yeah.

Q. Did any of those messages come from other Asian players on the tour?
NA LI: Yeah. Have a young player from the China, yeah.

Q. Have you heard from your mom yet?
NA LI: Yeah, she sent me a text message. She said, Well done. I waiting for you in the home. Yeah, that's it. (Laughter.)

Q. She didn't say if she watched or anything like that?
NA LI: Maybe she didn't watch the same time. But if someone tell her I'm win, maybe she watch later. Yeah.

Q. Can you talk a little bit about learning to play tennis, being a junior, how that was in China, and whether at that moment you could ever imagine getting to a Grand Slam final.
NA LI: Okay, going to take time to say that.
Before I was playing badminton from I was six years old. After I played two years, the badminton coach just tell me, You are not so good play badminton, because looks like you should play tennis, so you should change for tennis.
So I take my family, talk to the coach, and see how is the tennis court. Because during the time, tennis not so popular in China. Yeah, after family to see the court, they say, Okay, we change. I was like, Why you didn't ask me? Yeah, so they just change.
Because between I was stop for two years. I was feeling I always have ranking like 120 something, and never can play main draw for Grand Slam. I didn't have a chance to play big tournament. So I think like, Oh, maybe you should stop. You should do another thing.
So I come to university for two years. You know, in China we have a national champion, same like Asia Games, Olympic Games, four year, one time. So my team just come to university to ask me if I can help for them, because during the time they didn't have a good player. So I think I was young. They pay everything for me. So I would think, if they need me, for sure I should come back for them.
So I come back 2004 until now, yeah. I think maybe just best choice for me, yeah.

Q. Most of the Chinese Tennis Association compared you to Yao Ming today, to how big you're becoming in China. How do you feel about that?
NA LI: I don't know yet. Because, you know, I never saw the Internet, what they say. Of course, not all the people say you are good or something. If you got a bad message, you are make yourself angry or sad. I never saw the Internet. I never saw the news about for me. Yeah, so, I don't know.

Q. Have you ever spoken with Yao Ming and talked about sports or success?
NA LI: I think he's a little bit far away for me right now.

Q. Has the Chinese Tennis Association been very involved in your career?
NA LI: Yeah, I mean, until now they do a lot of thing for the player. Because right now I have my team around with me.
You know, right now they still pay everything for the young players, like flight ticket, hotel, coach, everything. If you need, you just ask the Federation. They can do everything they can.
I mean, yeah, yesterday I got a text message from the Federation boss. She say, Oh, well done. You come back, I pay the dinner. I say, What, only the dinner? (Laughter.)
Yes, of course Federation always focus for the player. Yeah.

Q. Is she here now?
NA LI: No, she's not here. She's in Beijing.

Q. Will she come to the final?
NA LI: I don't think so.

Q. Kim said yesterday that you were quite similar on the court. Would you agree? Could you describe in which way you are alike?
NA LI: I never think about which way. I just think about, Okay, if I do this, I feeling more comfortable, I will do that. If I feel I didn't like or something, I never do. I just give it away.

Q. Do you feel ready to beat her again? It's not so long ago you won.
NA LI: I wish. But, I mean, I beat her last time. Doesn't mean anything in here. I know it's tough match. But still enjoy, yeah.

Q. You said last year when you lost to Serena here that you needed to improve your serve. What have you improved since you were here last year?
NA LI: Yeah, I mean, last year I serve maybe like not use the racquet. Like the hand take it. I have the feeling you have to have the good serve, win 80% to 85% from the baseline, of course you are tired. That's why I improve a lot for the serve.
Yeah, this year I think better in serve than last year.

Q. Do you feel like kind of invincible in 2011? Against Jovanovski in Sydney you were down in first set; against Kim 5 0 down; against Caroline, match point down. You haven't been beaten in 2011.
NA LI: I always strong in the mind. I wish this time I not start 5 0 down, yeah. I mean, last year also I play here in the third round. Opponent also have two match point I save. So I come to the semifinal.
So, you know, in China, we say you have tough time, but you come over. That means you have best of luck. So I wish it is come with me to the final.

Q. What is your favorite part of being a tennis player?
NA LI: I didn't have like really like one. But I was think about the tennis player is amazing sport, all the players, because they always travel for all the world.
Also the people didn't see how hard they are working. They only see they win one Grand Slam, how much prize money they got. The people didn't see what they do behind the goal or behind the Grand Slam.
I was like Agassi before. Yeah, I was feel like, because he has long hair and with the jeans, yeah, this not normal player can do that.


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