BEIJING, Oct. 2 (Xinhua) -- World number five Li Na cut a poor figure in the opening round of the China Open on Sunday, slumping to a straight sets defeat to the unknown Romanian qualifier Monica Niculescu.
Li, who broke up with her Danish coach Michael Mortenson after staging a string of disappointing results since being crowned as French Open champion, still fell off the pace on home court under the guidance of her husband coach Jiang Shan and lost 6-4, 6-0 in just one hour and 21 minutes.
Li meant her words in the pre-tournament press conference the previous day by saying that the draw was never easy although her rivals in the first two rounds are either qualifer or wild card player.
In the newly built National Tennis Stadium, the qualifier did not have stage fright but the 29-year-old Li looked shaky. The start of the match was a total of disaster, with Li failing to hold her first three serves and trailing 5-1 to the 24-year-old Romanian.
Li revived some of her brutal game in the seventh game, saving three set points before holding her first serve of the match, 5-2.
To the noisy home audience, Li seemed to go back on track by breaking in the next game and going on to pull with at 5-4.
However, Niculescu's confidence seemed unchanged in the tenth game and finally tasted the first drop of blood after Li's forehand return hit into the net, 6-4.
Li, who has been given much expectations of becoming the first Chinese to lift trophy on home soil in the eighth year of the tournament, never found her rhythm in the following set.
Li was horribly out-of-form in the set and her game become ugly with comitting many grave mistakes. Li lost the set at love.