Chinese fourth seed Li Na was forced to dig deep against teenager Belinda Bencic at the Australian Open today before blasting past the promising Swiss qualifier in straight sets.
Li, 31, is one of the oldest women in the draw and she had already handed out a lesson to the youngest player during the first round when she beat Ana Konjuh, 16.
The experienced Li, with her right knee taped, was taken to deuce in her opening service game as she set about finding her range before holding for 1-0.
Li was soon looking good and she blasted a forehand down the line to break, and then comfortably held as she raced to a 3-0 lead with Bencic struggling to stay in touch.
Li’s placement was inch-perfect and there was little Bencic could do to stop the Chinese star wrapping up the set to love in just 22 minutes. The teenager had managed just one winner in six games.
It drew huge cheers from the crowd and brought a big smile from the 16-year-old, who rose in confidence as she broke Li to be 2-1 ahead.
Li immediately broke back but the plucky Swiss showed why she won the Wimbledon and French Open junior titles last year and was named the ITF Junior World Champion in 2013.
She broke Li again and should have held her next serve, but a forehand into the net saw the set locked at 4-4.
It went with serve to a tense tiebreak with Li drawing on her experience to survive.