Sabine Lisicki, Petra Kvitova, Agneiszka Radwanska, Marion Bartoli, Sloane Stephens, Kaia Kanepi, Kirsten Flipkens.
Those are the names that stand between Li Na and this year’s Wimbledon title and none of them should cause her to quake in her Nikes. Following Lisicki’s stunning defeat of overwhelming favorite Serena Williams on Monday, the tournament is as open at this stage as it has been in years.
Ignore Bloomberg’s tired re-telling of the Li-Na-as-rebel story and the dismissal of her chances. Li Na, the 2011 French Open champion, may never have a better chance to win another Grand Slam. Next up on Tuesday (1pm UK time, Centre Court) is Radwanska, the fourth seed, and the highest seeded player left in the draw. But Li has a 6-4 record against the Pole and has won four of their last five meetings, including a quarterfinal match up in this year’s Australian Open. They have met twice at Wimbledon: Radwanska won their R32 game in 2009, Li won their R16 game in 2010.
In addition, Li is in impressive form, winning one set 6-0 in each of her last three games. Right now, the bookmakers are ranking Lisicki and Petra Kvitova – the 2011 winner – marginally above Li. But there’s something in the water at Wimbledon this year, and all eight players left in the draw will be quietly confident.