Despite being one of the veterans of the women’s tour, Li Na may not have even peaked yet.
You’d have to agree that it’s a perfect time to have her representing your town at Australian Open 2014 as part of the very first AO Blitz.
The Chinese superstar enjoyed arguably her career-best season in 2013; although she may not have won a major title as she did in 2011 at the French Open, the 31-year-old produced her most consistent and productive year at the Grand Slams.
The most notable of those was her finals’ appearance at the Australian Open. Li blitzed through the field, overcoming fourth-ranked Agnieszka Radwanska in the quarterfinals, dismissing then-No.2 ranked Maria Sharapova in the semifinals – for the loss of just four games –and then very nearly toppling top seed Victoria Azarenka in a dramatic and absorbing final.
It was a result that seemed to buoy her for the rest of the season – she maintained a top five ranking, reached the quarters at Wimbledon and semis of the US Open, and as of this week, had produced a sparkling win-loss record of 40-13.
So how can you get Li Na playing for your town at Australian Open 2014?
It’s easy – the more points you earn by completing challenges, the more points you earn for your nominated town. And the higher your town finishes on the leader-board, the more chance it will have of being represented by a highly seeded player. The top two towns on the leader-board will flip a coin to see which one scores the top-seeded male player, or the top-seeded female.
Your town could be associated with Li at Australian Open 2014; giant information screens around Melbourne Park, plus scheduling signage, would feature her name, nationality and the Australian town she’s ‘playing for’.
It’s a pretty exciting concept, especially when you consider the prizes on offer. If your representative player wins the men’s or women’s Australian Open singles title, your town will be treated to an AO Blitz party for the entire community, and a whole host of other prizes.
And considering her record at Melbourne Park, Li would have to be one of the top contenders come January.
In addition to her final appearance this year, the Chinese also reached the title match in 2011. It makes the Australian Open her best-performed Grand Slam event, and it’s easy to see why; her dynamic, athletic game and heavy yet crisp hitting from the baseline translate perfectly to the medium-paced Plexicushion. Plus being one of the fittest players going around, Melbourne’s notorious heat doesn’t really present her with any problems.
And then there’s her popularity. Li is a crowd favourite, her sunny personality, quick wit and demonstrative on-court play winning her countless fans in Australia. Their support is one of the reasons the world No.5 performs so consistently well Down Under – she also reached the semifinals in 2010 and won the Sydney title in 2011 – and why she says the Australian Open is her favourite Slam.
By registering for the AO Blitz and completing as many challenges as you can, you'll increase your chances of having Li Na hitting – and smiling – her way to victory for your town at Australian Open 2014.