SPORT: Li Na smiling all the way to lounge

Melbourne (China Daily/ANN) - The Hisense Arena has become a happy hunting ground for Li Na.

The Chinese star, who always enjoys solid support and boasts a decent record at Melbourne Park, couldn't help but smile on her way back to the players' lounge after beating Olga Govortsova of Belarus to reach the third round at the Australian Open.

"I was so happy that even my coach Carlos and husband, Jiang Shan, felt I was weird after they saw me laughing in the lounge," said a grinning Li yesterday after her 6-2, 7-5 victory on a court where she hasn't lost a match since 2005.

Continuing her winning streak at the Hisense Arena was one thing; overcoming a second-set mental meltdown was much bigger for the 2011 French Open champion.

After winning the first set with little fuss, Li lost her focus early in the second, falling behind 5-3 and Govortsova holding two set points.

While fans strolled out for drinks or food to get ready for a third set, Li rallied back with renewed energy, winning 13 points in a row to close out the contest with 16 winners more than her rival.

An emotional player who has struggled when behind in matches, Li vowed to improve her mental toughness with the help of Argentine coach Carlos Rodriguez and has apparently already made progress.

"It was thrilling to be able to come back and win the match today," Li said. "I sort of lost my focus in the second set after winning the first easily, which allowed her to gather some momentum.

"You can't control your mind as well as you expect on the court. Actually, I wasn't confident that I could turn it around when she had two set points. But, I am happy that I was tough enough to continue fighting."

Playing eight matches in nine days before the Australian Open, Li said she felt more comfortable in the Grand Slam rhythm of a match every two days.

"You will always have one day off to figure out how to prepare for the next game and it helps a lot.

"If they can arrange all my following matches on the Hisense Arena, that will be much better too."

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