WTA Tour

Stosur backs Li to reach No 1

Li Na (AFP)
Li Na (AFP)

Hong Kong - Former US Open champion Sam Stosur on Tuesday backed Li Na to reach top spot in the world rankings, after the Chinese sensation's Australian Open victory.

Australian Stosur voiced her belief in 31-year-old Li ahead of an exhibition match between the two in Hong Kong. Li has already declared that she is determined to work hard to become number one following her win in Melbourne.

"Think about her ability and what she has been able to do in the last year or so - for sure I think she has a chance to get even higher than number three," Stosur, 29, told reporters.

"I don't see any reason why you wouldn't think anything is possible... of course, it's very very hard. The closer you get the harder it gets."

Li is third in the rankings, just 11 points behind second-placed Victoria Azarenka, after downing Dominika Cibulkova on Saturday to take her second Grand Slam title after winning in France in 2011.

Serena Williams, 32, remains world number one.

Stosur said she did not believe Li's age would hold her back.

"Lots of players now are playing their best tennis at a little bit older age... being healthy is the important thing," she said in a phone conference in Hong Kong.

Describing Li as "down to earth" Stosur said she loved the post-match one-liners that had the Melbourne audience in stitches.

Li thanked her agent for making her rich and jokingly blamed her husband Jiang Shan's snoring for keeping her awake.

The two will meet at the BNP Paribas Showdown exhibition in Hong Kong in March, to mark World Tennis Day.

Stosur was a top 10 player almost continuously for three years until her run ended when she finished last year ranked 18, after a season blighted by injury.

She has however won all six of her WTA tour matches against Li.

"For whatever reasons I have always had success against Li Na when we played. But they've been very very tough matches," she said.

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