Silencing the voices of doubt that plague Li Na’s mind has been mission impossible at times for coaches and her stoic husband Jiang Shan, but the 30-year-old Chinese appears to have finally found harmony on and off the court.
The world number six will play Agnieszka Radwanska for a place in the Australian Open semi-finals on Tuesday, and is relishing being back in the big-time after a year-and-a-half in the grand slam wilderness.
The last time Li reached the quarter-finals at a major was in 2011, when she went on to win the French Open and become the first from an Asian country to win a grand slam singles title.
In the following six majors, the last 16 was as good as it got for trailblazer Li, who struggled to deal with the higher expectations despite the efforts of hen-pecked husband-coach Jiang.
University sweetheart Jiang filled the breach after Li’s split with Danish coach Michael Mortensen, who guided her to the French Open win. Jiang has since withdrawn to allow the retired Justine Henin’s former coach Carlos Rodriguez take the reins.