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Li Na Upset By Simona Halep In U.S. Open 1st Round

Li Na Us Open

RACHEL COHEN   08/30/11 10:05 PM ET   AP

NEW YORK — French Open champion Li Na left no doubt of how she felt about losing in the first round of the U.S. Open for the second straight year.

The sixth-seeded Chinese player used an expletive during a post-match news conference Tuesday to describe her performance in a 6-2, 7-5 loss to 53rd-ranked Romanian teenager Simona Halep.

A year that started out so triumphantly has spiraled down quickly for the 29-year-old.

"Now I even lose all the confidence on the court," she said. "I was feeling, 'Oh, tennis is just too tough for me.'"

Li reached her first Grand Slam final at the Australian Open, then became the first major singles champion from Asia at Roland Garros. But since then, she was won consecutive matches just once.

"French Open is like three months (ago) already," she said, her voice alternating from disgust to despair. "I mean, is enough time to forget."

The second round at Flushing Meadows will be without all three of this year's major champions. Australian Open winner Kim Clijsters withdrew because of injury, while Wimbledon champ Petra Kvitova lost Monday.

It's the first time that's happened since 1971.

Kvitova also fell to a Romanian, 48th-ranked Alexandra Dulgheru.

Li's match ended on her 54th unforced error. She acknowledged that opponents play her tougher now that she's a Grand Slam champion and it's been difficult to adjust.

Before the match, she told her coach she didn't have good timing.

"He tell me everything is perfect; everything is fantastic," she said. "I say, 'Yes, everything is fantastic, but I always lose first round.' I mean, this is not fantastic.

"I think we need to change something."

The 19-year-old Halep, who beat a top-10 player for the first time in four tries, was playing in her second U.S. Open match.

Told of Li's description of her own play, Halep said with a smile, "Yeah, maybe she played like (expletive), but it's OK."

Halep has been bothered by a sore ankle since Toronto earlier this month, but you'd never know it by her results. She upset 15th-ranked Svetlana Kuznetsova soon after getting hurt.

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Filed by Michael Klopman  |