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Li Na spoils Vera Zvonareva’s return after long absence

Beijing: Chinese tennis star Li Na shone at the Shenzhen Open on Tuesday, besting Russia’s Vera Zvonareva, as the former World No.2 made her return to the court after a 17-month layoff.

The 31-year-old Li, Asia’s highest-ranked player in tennis history, beat Zvonareva 7-5, 6-3 in one hour and 46 minutes.

It was the first singles event for Zvonareva since the 2012 London Olympics, after which the 29-year-old two-time Grand Slam champion was sidelined due to illness and a shoulder injury.

Zvonareva had triumphed over Li in four of their last five meetings, the most recent of which came in 2010.

Taiwan’s Chan Yung-jan, meanwhile, won a surprise victory over sixth-seed Zhang Shuai of China. Zhang took the first set 6-3, but Chan turned up the heat and battled back to win the next two, 6-4 and 6-2.

The year 2013 marks the second year for the Shenzhen Open, which comes as Li’s success has ignited a new Chinese interest in tennis.

Results

Results from the WTA Shenzhen Open on Tuesday (x denotes seed):

Women’s singles

1st round:

Li Na (CHN x1) bt Vera Zvonareva (RUS) 7-5 6-3

Monica Niculescu (ROM) bt Anna Schmiedlova (SVK) 4-6 6-2 6-3

Nadiya Kichenok (UKR) bt Timea Babos (HUN) 6-0 2-0 (rtd)

Chan Yung-jan (TPE) bt Zhang Shuai (CHN x6) 3-6 6-4 6-2

2nd round:

Peng Shuai (CHN x5) bt Silvia Soler-Espinosa (ESP) 6-3 6-3