Li Na Praised in China After Loss in Australian Tennis Open

Chinese tennis player Li Na, who lost the women’s Australian Open final to defending champion Victoria Azarenka yesterday, was hailed by China’s media today for her perseverance in the match.

Li lost the game and “won the world,” the Shanghai-based Oriental Morning Post said. What will be remembered “is Li’s perseverance” in the 4-6, 6-4, 3-6 loss after she played through most of the match with an injured ankle, the official People’s Daily wrote on its front page.

Li Na has become the new representative for Chinese sportsmanship, “replacing Liu Xiang,” said a commentary on Web portal site Neteast, referring to the hurdler who won a gold medal in 2004 Olympic Games.

Li, 30, became the first Chinese player to win a Grand Slam singles title at the 2011 French Open. She would have become the oldest woman to win the Australian Open in the professional era, had she defeated Azarenka, the 23-year-old top seed from Belarus.

“No pity and only pride,” hurdling hero Liu said of Li on his micro-blog, which has 28 million followers. “You’ve outperformed yourself,” he said.

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