Li Na got her work done quickly Wednesday at the US Open, so when the rain started falling, she had little to worry about.
The fifth-seeded Li defeated Sweden’s Sofia Arvidsson 6-2, 6-2 in the day’s first match at Arthur Ashe Stadium to advance to the third round. Shortly afterward, heavy rain came and Li’s only concern was finding an umbrella to cover herself on the walk to the car.
"It’s tough for them," she said, referring to the 58 players who still had singles matches to complete Wednesday. "For me, just relax all day and do whatever I want."
A grand total of five matches were complete before the rain, including 18th-seeded Carla Suarez Navarro’s 6-3, 6-4 victory over American CoCo Vandeweghe and third-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska’s 6-0, 7-5 victory over Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor of Spain.
Of the matches played after the weather cleared, American Sloane Stephens and Poland’s Urszula Radawnska had the longest wait. They didn’t play a point until 11:53 p.m. ET. But the 15th-seeded Stephens made sure she got off the court in a hurry.
Stephens needed only 58 minutes to beat the 38th-ranked Radwanska 6-1, 6-1 in a match that ended a little before 1 a.m. Thursday.
Agnieszka Radwanska, meanwhile, dropped only seven points during a 21-minute first set, but the second lasted 66 minutes. Long, but not too long.
"Played first match and then I’m done," said Agnieszka Radwanska, the Wimbledon runner-up last year and a semifinalist at the All England Club this year, who has never made it past the fourth round in seven previous appearances at Flushing Meadows. "I can just relax, watch others and do treatment and do whatever I want. Sometimes it’s good to play first, even when I have to wake up really early."
Another early winner was 32nd-seeded Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
With the storm bearing down, video monitors around the Billie Jean King Tennis Center warned fans to seek shelter and avoid trees because of potential lightning, though thousands of ticketholders were milling about without much concern for severe weather.
They’re used to this scene.
The year’s final Grand Slam tournament has finished a day late for five straight years because of rain delays.
This year, the US Tennis Association announced it was building a roof over Arthur Ashe Stadium as part of a renovation project that will cost $550 million. The roof could be ready by 2016, or 2017 at the latest.
Even that wouldn’t have alleviated a logjam the likes of which the tournament faced Wednesday, with a full slate of matches in singles along with men’s, women’s and mixed doubles.
Li, the 2011 French Open titlist, hit 29 winners to only four for her 100th-ranked opponent, is in the third round of the US Open for the fifth time.
"I’m happy," Li said. "Because at least I’m done with my job for the day."