Watson Na match for Li
British number one beaten in straight sets by ninth seed
Last Updated: August 27, 2012 10:27pm
Heather Watson: managed to fight her way into a 3-1 lead in the second set
Heather Watson's US Open campaign came to an early end at Flushing Meadows as she was beaten 6-2 6-3 by China's Li Na.
The draw had not been kind to the British No.1, particularly as her opponent had recently run into some excellent form on the north American hard courts.
"She played like a grand slam champion."
Heather Watson Quotes of the week
Li reached the final in Montreal earlier this month, losing to Petra Kvitova, and then went on to beat Agnieszka Radwanska, Venus Williams and Angelique Kerber to win her first title of the year in Cincinnati.
Still, Watson began confidently enough and had a break point in the fourth game. albeit one that was saved by Li with a big serve.
From then on the ninth seed pulled away in the opening set, taking five games in a row to move ahead in serene fashion.
Watson stopped the rot at the start of the second, beginning with two aces, then got a breakthrough of her own in the fourth game to lead 3-1.
However Li responded in impressive fashion, breaking her opponent twice on the spin on her way to a 5-3 lead.
Only the rain held up her progress from then on, the heavens opening and an almighty thunderstorm hitting New York to delay proceedings by three hours. On their return, Li needed only one game to clinch victory.
Despite the defeat Watson - who came close to upsetting Maria Sharapova in the opening round of the tournament last year - was not too downhearted.
"I'm happy with how I played," the 20-year-old said. "I even feel I played better today than I did last year against Maria. I don't think it was Maria's best match last year but today Li Na was on another level.
"She was hitting winners off balls I wouldn't think you could hit winners off, hitting lots of lines, she had a really high first-serve percentage and she just played better tennis. She played like a grand slam champion.
"I enjoyed playing against her, I thought it was a high-quality match, and for me it's gaining experience against these top players, learning to do the right things on the big points because that's what counts."