Na Li will take on former world No. 1 Jelena Jankovic on Thursday in round three. Can the former French Open champ close in on the WTA Rome title?
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Na Li got Wednesday's WTA Rome action started with a comfortable 6-3, 6-1 victory over Jie Zheng, and she'll be eager to produce another lengthy campaign at the Foro Italico. After falling at the final hurdle here last season China's No. 1 will have every intention of topping the pack.
Li's opponent in the last sixteen will be none other than Jelena Jankovic. JJ has recorded some emphatic wins in the early stages and appears to be prepping herself for a big week. She started by cruising past Tsvetana Pironkova 6-3, 6-0, and then clinched a morale-crushing 6-2, 6-0 win against Serbia's Bojana Jovanovski. Jovanovski's three set triumph over Caroline Wozniacki was her first win since January, and she'll no doubt be very disappointed with how she's followed this up.
There's every reason to be excited about the upcoming Li versus Jankovic showdown. The pairing haven't met competitively since 2009, but up until then had contested a fascinating rivalry. Li leads 4-3, but Jankovic won the last two matches between the two players.
Since 2009 Li has really stepped up her game, whereas Jankovic has slipped down the rankings a little. Even taking Jankovic's great start into account the world No. 5 seems likely to have the upper hand on Thursday in Rome.