MELBOURNE (REUTERS) - China's tempestuous trailblazer Li Na sailed into the fourth round of the Australian Open on Friday and is poised for a deep run into the second week should she be able to overcome her greatest opponent - herself.
The sixth seed had little trouble despatching Romania's Sorana Cirstea 6-4, 6-1 on a breezy day at Rod Laver Arena to underline her title credentials in Melbourne.
As shown by her breakthrough French Open triumph in 2011, Li has the game, built around a cracking forehand, to topple the heavyweights if only she can win the mental battle in her head.
A bonus for Li is the absence of four-time Major champion Kim Clijsters, who beat her in the 2011 final and knocked her out of the fourth round last year.
Li imploded after taking winning positions in both of those matches, but the signs look good at Melbourne Park for the late-blooming 30-year-old, who has now made the second week for a fourth straight year.
A very winnable match against 19th seed Julia Goerges of Germany is up next, with fourth-seeded Pole Agnieszka Radwanska likely to provide the acid test in the quarter-finals.