WTA BNP Paribas Open: Li Na races past Chinese compatriot Zheng Jie
Last Updated: 09/03/14 12:49pm
Li Na: Chinese right-hander is top seed at Indian Wells event
World No 2 Li Na eased into the third round of the BNP Paribas Open with a straight-sets win over Zheng Jie.
China's Li needed an hour and 34 minutes to see off her compatriot Zheng 6-1 7-5 and set up a meeting with Czech Karolina Pliskova.
Li, helped by her Australian Open victory earlier in the year, has risen to a career-high ranking and is top seed at Indian Wells due to the absence of world No 1 Serena Williams, who has not played in the event since 2001.
She raced through the opening set in 29 minutes but was made to work harder in the second before breaking 58th-ranked Zheng as she served to stay in the match.
"Because we know so much about each other, me and Zheng Jie," said Li. "We always train together with the national team for, like, 100 years."
Pliskova knocked out 28th seed Klara Zakopalova 7-5 6-2.
Defending champion Maria Sharapova also cruised into the second round after a 6-1 6-4 victory over Julia Goerges of Germany.
However, No 5 seed Angelique Kerber was sent crashing out of the tournament after falling to a shock 2-6 7-6 (7-5) 6-4 defeat to Spanish outsider Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor.
Wimbledon finalist Sabine Lisicki, who was seeded 15th in Indian Wells, also bowed out after Aleksandra Wozniak edged her way to a 7-5 1-6 7-6 (7-5) win.
Ana Ivanovic needed a third-set tie-break to defeat Elina Svitolina, while fellow seeds Petra Kvitova, Dominika Cibulkova, Samantha Stosur and Sloane Stephens were easier winners on Saturday.