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Li Na's 2nd-Round Loss at French Open Should Not Make Fans Panic

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistMay 30, 2013

PARIS, FRANCE - MAY 30:  Na Li of China plays a forehand during her Women's Singles match against Bethanie Mattek-Sands od the United States during day five of the French Open at Roland Garros on May 30, 2013 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Li Na had a disappointing early exit at Roland Garros, but the Chinese star should not be alarmed by the loss.

After winning her first match at the French Open in straight sets over Anabel Medina Garrigues, Li was not as fortunate in the second round. She could not compete with Bethanie Mattek-Sands and ended up falling by a score of 7-5, 3-6, 2-6.

While the former champion wanted a much better showing at this event, this match is more likely to be a fluke than a trend that fans should be worried about.

In the second round, Li made a few more mistakes with her serve than she wanted, with five double faults. Yet she also got 63 percent of her first serves in play, which is right on line with her yearly average.

Additionally, she was strong defensively with five total breaks against her opponent.

The difference was that Mattek-Sands came prepared and played as well as possible. The American had plenty of momentum entering the tournament after reaching the semifinals at Stuttgart, Germany. Of course, in that match she lost to Li.

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Basically, the veteran competitor put together a strong showing with few mistakes to earn the upset. 

Still, Li has already put together a strong 2013 campaign. She has one title to go with two additional finals appearances, including one at the Australian Open. In that first Grand Slam, she was only a few games away from claiming the victory over Victoria Azarenka.

Although she is getting up there in age at 31 years old, there is no sign that she is on the decline. She still serves incredibly well and moves around the court as fluidly as anyone in the sport.

The biggest issue going forward is the fact that Li has struggled in the final two Grand Slam tournaments of the year. She has never played beyond the quarterfinals in either Wimbledon or the U.S. Open, and did not even reach that stage last year.

Then again, it took five tries to advance to the semifinals at Roland Garros. That fifth time, she won the entire championship.

Li has shown that she can use her experience to get better and make her tougher to defeat. This skill will help her remain a tough contender at either of those two events.

With a large portion of the season's schedule remaining, the No. 6 player in the world should expect a lot more success.

This defeat was a speed bump in the year, but it will not derail her hopes at more future victories.