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LONDON (AFP) – Li Na confessed she is a convert to serve-and-volley tennis and has vowed to take her new-found skills at the net with her into the US hard court season.
The Chinese number one tried out the tactics at Wimbledon and though it did not get her into the semi-finals, the 31-year-old is keen to prove she can mix it with the best of them in the dying art.
The 2011 French Open champion is going to take a month off recuperating after her Wimbledon exploits, freshening up to tackle the run-up ahead of the US Open, which gets under way on August 26.
Li was beaten by Agnieszka Radwanska in an epic quarter-final tussle on Tuesday between the highest seeds left standing at Wimbledon.
The Polish fourth seed, beaten by Serena Williams in last year's final, defeated the sixth seed 7-6 (7/5), 4-6, 6-2 in a closely-fought contest on Centre Court.
Li saw off seven match points before finally succumbing.
Throughout, to counter Radwanska's trademark drop shots and deft play, she charged into the net 71 times, winning points 48 times in the process and mixing up her regular baseline rhythm.
The world number six had worked on the plan with her coach Carlos Rodriguez, who guided Belgian former world number one Justine Henin.
"I'm proud of myself, because at least I was trying to come to the net. I can now use it in important matches. So it's pretty positive," the Wuhan right-hander said, looking ahead to the rest of the season.
Li insisted it had been a good Wimbledon. In reaching the quarter-finals, she had matched her previous best, achieved in 2006 and 2010. In her last two outings at the All England Club, she had been dumped out in the second round.
"It was pretty good, really. At least better than the last two years. And also I proved a new thing, proved so many things on the court," she said.
"Before I never thought I could come to the net so many times.
"So at least now we have a job to do, me and Carlos. We know what we should do for the next step.
"Maybe I came to the net much more than in my whole life. So it's good proof.
"The first time I was feeling, oh, I really can come to the net! Before I was thinking, no, no, this not my style, I have to stay on the baseline."
Li said she will taking her new style on with her in the North American hard court swing next month.
"I think I will try to continue it on the hard courts as well, because I feel the pace now," she said.
Li said she will have four weeks off before returning at Toronto in the build-up to the next Grand Slam at Flushing Meadows.
"I need time for recovery," she said, adding that she had no interest in seeing who will be the new Wimbledon champion.
"I will get out of London as soon as possible. It's very tough after you lose a match to still pay attention to the tournament. Always after a match I will leave and never see about the tennis," she said.
"Maybe I'll go shopping. Maybe go somewhere else. Just try relax a little bit."