Melbourne: An inconsolable Li Na was spared a lengthy interrogation by Chinese reporters following her fourth-round collapse to Melbourne Park nemesis Kim Clijsters, when a WTA official wrapped up her tearful post-match news conference.   

The tempestuous 29-year-old, beaten in the final by Clijsters last year, blew four match points in the second set tiebreak on a scorching day at Rod Laver Arena before losing  4-6, 7-6, 6-4.   

Despite returning to China a hero after her French Open triumph last year, Li's mental fortitude has been questioned in her home country over a long career and the usually jokey, self-deprecating player was in no mood to re-open the debate.   

"I think I was pretty not bad today. Just unlucky, yeah," the fifth seed told reporters in English.   

The action on court suggested luck had little to do with it as Li wasted a gilt-edged opportunity to send Clijsters packing on the last of her match points.   

Clijsters poked an optimistic drop-shot over the net begging to be put away, but Li responded with a weak forehand that the Belgian was able to lob over her head.   

Frozen to the spot, Li did not even attempt to chase down the looping shot and promptly crumpled in a heap to trail 4-0 in the decider.   

"During that time, of course I was nervous. If you're nervous you could not think too much, right?" she implored.   

Chinese New Year starts on Monday and Li, born in the year of the dog according to the traditional lunar calendar, was feeling decidedly out of luck on the last day of the year of the rabbit.    

"Year of the dragon starts tomorrow, not today," Li snapped at a reporter's indelicate question about whether the coming year might be more "auspicious" for her.   

After English-language reporters shuffled out, China's press gallery squirmed in their seats before one reporter broke the deafening silence to ask whether her game had been affected by the packed crowd in the stands.   

"I can't control the spectators," said Li, who teed off at the chair umpire about noisy Chinese fans in the crowd during last year's final.   

"Everyone learns different things," she added testily when asked about her "harvest" from the year of the rabbit.   

"Did you cry just then?" another reporter asked softly.   

"Next question," the world number six said as tears welled in her eyes.   

With Li sobbing with her head in her hands, an official promptly stepped forward to declare the media conference over, allowing the player to make a break for the exit and ponder the galling defeat in solitude.

(Agencies)