It wasn't long ago that the once deemed Chinese tennis star was crowned a champion and placed on the map of women's tennis. In fact, she sits a year out from her 2011 French Open victory, and Li Na’s authoritative status has since been stifled.
However, as she returns to form, so too does the French Open. She will remain a force to be reckoned with.
With play already underway, Na sits in striking contention for a repeat of past glory. Clay, more precisely Roland Garros, remains Na's advantage point. The court has continued to bring her good fortune, so do not be shocked when Na looks controlling on the court.
Since her Major championship, Na has managed to reach no further than the fourth round of tournaments. Flying under the radar appears to be Na's repertoire, but one that doesn't seem to bother her. Na was knocked out in the first, second and fourth rounds of the Grand Slam events.
Na will be looking to ride the momentum of the Italian Open as she steps foot into the French Open, looking to return to the podium in defense of her title.
Na began her play today and was quick to separate herself from her competition. She capped off a solidified victory by defeating Romanian Sorana Cirstea 6-2, 6-1.
Cirstea really never left the starting gates. Na controlled the game from the start, generating the victory in less than a hour's time.
Where will Li Na finish in the 2012 French Open?
An early victory such as this, could be the pivotal element that seals the knot and competition for Na. She may be on the rebound from a series of escalating disasters, but Roland Garros is like playing home-court advantage, so don't be surprised if the heralded trophy returns to China's superstar.
Na needs to persistently play to her strengths of raw athleticism, agility and footwork. With her adept abilities to run the court, she can turn a defensive bout into an offensive attack with her healthy strokes in a beeline down the paint. Additionally, a fury of precise backhands may be just the decisive element for a repeat, as she can slice her opponents on command.
If she utilizes her strengths, there will be no way to avoid Na and her attack. If she is able to withstand the elevated pressure of a repeat, Na will prevail.