Since starting the year 11-0 and making the finals of the Australian Open, Li Na has struggled, losing four straight matches. Her ranking hasn't suffered, as this week she reached a career high of No. 6. On Tuesday, Li Na spoke with Busted Racquet about her post-Melbourne malaise, whether or not she considers herself a rebel and her famous snoring husband.
Busted Racquet: You reached No. 6 in the WTA rankings this week. How high do you think you can get?
Li Na: Of course every player tries to attain a high ranking, so for me I'll take No. 6. Next step: No. 5, hopefully.
Busted Racquet: Do you pay attention to the rankings? Does your attitude change based on whether you're No. 11 or No. 6?
Li Na: I never think of it. You know, after Melbourne, I didn't do well in the next three tournaments. [Dubai, Doha, Indian Wells], so I thought I would drop down in the rankings. But I moved up to six!
Busted Racquet: You won your first 11 of the year. Won in Sydney, went to the finals of the Australian Open. Since then you've lost four straight matches. Is there any reason for concern?
Li Na: After Melbourne many things came at me and I thought I'd do the same, but I couldn't win the match on the court. I'm still working hard, though. Maybe right now, I thought it'd be better, but you can't always keep winning all the time.
Busted Racquet: Is it hard to get up for Doha after making the finals of a Grand Slam?
Li Na: Yes, maybe my opponents see me differently and the media too. I'd like to think I didn't change, but maybe I did change a little bit.
Busted Racquet: How much has changed since your appearance in Melbourne? During the Australian Open you spoke about how you didn't know how big you'd become in China. What was the reaction when you returned?
Li Na: Many more people know who I am and what sport I'm with. Also, right now I feel like I can't do as much as before because so many people are watching. I'm still happy, I like this life. People know what I'm doing.
Busted Racquet: Has your husband become more famous since you called him out for snoring?
Li Na: [Laughs] I mean, he's more famous than me right now.
Busted Racquet: Roger Federer mentioned last year that he didn't get good sleep because his twins kept him up crying and I was amazed that he stays in the same hotel room as them. Have you ever considered getting a separate hotel room?
Li Na: We're still in the same room. My husband is getting better, but if not he can always stay in the bathroom.
Busted Racquet: And there's an operation for that if it ever gets too bad. Switching gears, back in 2008 you got to do something a lot of tennis players will never experience: playing an Olympics in your home country. How does that compare to playing in a major final?
Li Na: I'm happier with what they do now. They said in the final match [of the Australian Open] three channels showed it at the same time. Right now many more people know about tennis and it was always about table tennis before.
Busted Racquet: Are you looking to play in London next year at the Olympics?
Li Na: Of course. It's next year, right?
Busted Racquet: Yup.
Li Na: So if I can stay healthy, of course, I would love to play in the Olympics with China.
Busted Racquet: Almost every article I read about you describes you as a "rebel." Do you view yourself that way?
Li Na: No!
Busted Racquet: I guess they say it because of the way you broke from the Chinese sports system and the tattoo.
Li Na: When you do one thing, people think it's right or wrong. Maybe half-half. I don't care what the other half says. I do what I want. I was working for myself, I'm not working for anybody.
Busted Racquet: You're in Miami now. It's your favorite tournament. What do you like so much about the event?
Li Na: South Beach.
Busted Racquet: Me too. Unfortunately I'm stuck up north right now. What draws you to South Beach?
Li Na: I just like to look around. I'm not there to stay up too late because I have training the next day. I like going to South Beach to eat at some good restaurants, to look around and to go back to the hotel. I'm not a boy, so I can't do too much in South Beach.
Busted Racquet: After Key Biscayne, the clay court season picks up. Do you alter your game when you go to the slower surface?
Li Na: For me, I never want to alter my game. I keep going. Clay courts are a little tough for me, but I always try. When I change surface I don't want to change my tennis. I never want to do that.
Busted Racquet: When you started out you were a badminton player in China, of course. If you got on the badminton court right now, how good could you be?
Li Na: I think I'd prefer tennis courts [laughs]. In China there are many good badminton players and I wouldn't want to go against them.
Busted Racquet: Thanks for chatting with me today.
Li Na: Thank you.