Tennis: Zvonareva falls to China's Li after long absence

Tennis: Zvonareva falls to China's Li after long absence
Vera Zvonareva of Russia hits a return to Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic during the quarterfinals of the Family Circle Cup tennis tournament in Charleston, South Carolina, April 6, 2012.

BEIJING - Chinese tennis star Li Na shone at the Shenzhen Open on Tuesday, besting Russia's Vera Zvonareva as the former World No. 2 made her return to the court after a 17-month hiatus.

The 31-year-old Li, Asia's highest-ranked player in tennis history, beat Zvonareva 7-5 6-3 in one hour and 46 minutes.

It was the first singles event for Zvonareva since the 2012 London Olympics, after which the 29-year-old two-time Grand Slam champion was sidelined due to illness and a shoulder injury.

Zvonareva had triumphed over Li in four of their last five meetings, the most recent of which came in 2010.

Taiwan's Chan Yung-Jan, meanwhile, won a surprise victory over sixth-seed Zhang Shuai of China. Zhang took the first set 6-3, but Chan turned up the heat and battled back to win the next two, 6-4 and 6-2.

The year 2013 marks the second year for the Shenzhen Open, which comes as Li's success has ignited a new Chinese interest in tennis.

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