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Beyond the Baseline

Li Na settling into her new role as the top seed at Indian Wells

Li Na was her usual quotable self when she spoke with reporters ahead of BNP Paribas Open. (Mark J. Terrill/AP) Li Na was her usual quotable self when she spoke with reporters ahead of BNP Paribas Open. (Mark J. Terrill/AP)

INDIAN WELLS, Calif. -- No. 2 Li Na may be suffering from jet lag, but her famous sense of humor was still firing on Wednesday when she was asked to compare her life after winning the Australian Open to when she won her first major, the 2011 French Open.

"Not much different," she said during her pre-tournament roundtable interview at the BNP Paribas Open. "I signed a lot of autographs. But not contracts, OK? So looking forward to signing a lot of contracts."

Li smiled her wide grin and the room erupted in laughter. It's good to see she hasn't changed much since January -- she's still the best quote in tennis.

It's a milestone week for Li, who is at the top of the draw at a WTA Premier Mandatory event for the first time. (No. 1 Serena Williams is not entered.) When a reporter joked that it must be easier to find her name in the draw, Li was quick to point out that she's never had a problem with that.

"Always easy [to find my name in the draw]," she joked. "My name is the shortest ever. I have to say thanks to my mom. Easiest name ever."

Li Na opens up about life, love and tennis in autobiography

Li comes into Indian Wells having played just one tournament since her Melbourne triumph, losing in the third round of the Qatar Open in mid-February. She also spent time in Wuhan, China, celebrating the Chinese New Year and went to her training base in Munich to check in with the doctors who have helped rehabilitate her knee. Getting back on the practice court wasn't easy.

"I think after you win a big title, I have the same feeling as when I come back from vacation. I'm like, 'Why should you come back? Why should you continue? Go rest!'" she said, laughing. "The first training is always tough because you [fight] against yourself. Because I just made one goal and the next goal is waiting for me. I have to prove myself."

The next goal is to win another Slam and improve her ranking, which would mean becoming the first Chinese singles player to be No. 1. But Li isn't pressuring herself to get that done this year, and that's a good thing for tennis. Li just turned 32 last month, but from the sound of it, she's not even close to thinking about retirement.

"For goals, I never put a time [frame on it]," she said. "I wish I can improve my ranking or try to win another [major], but not for this year. Maybe it's a goal for [the] next two years."

Li, who has a first-round bye, will open against either her countrywoman Zheng Jie or Argentina's Paula Ormaechea.

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