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TENNIS

Li opens Shenzhen Open title defense with win

Shenzhen, China (SportsNetwork.com) - Top-seeded Chinese tennis hero Li Na began defense of her Shenzhen Open title with a 7-5, 6-3 opening-round victory over wild card and former top-10 Russian star Vera Zvonareva on Tuesday.

Li's second-round opponent will be Ukrainian qualifier Nadiya Kichenok.

The former French Open champion and 2013 Australian Open runner-up Li won last year's inaugural Shenzhen title by beating Czech Klara Zakopalova in the finale.

In a second-round affair on Day 3, fifth-seeded Chinese crowd favorite Peng Shuai pasted Spaniard Silvia Soler-Espinosa 6-3, 6-3.

In other first-round action on Tuesday, No. 6 seed Zhang Shuai of China was ousted by Yung-Jan Chan of Chinese Taipei, 3-6, 6-4, 6-2, Romanian Monica Niculescu beat Slovak Anna Schmiedlova 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, and the aforementioned Kichenok leveled Hungarian Timea Babos 6-0, 2-0 as Babos retired on the hardcourts at Shenzhen Longgang Tennis Center.