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06-05-2011, 05:12 AM #1
First grand slam for China, Li Na creates history
China’s long wait for a Grand Slam champion ended Saturday when Li Na beat Francesca Schiavone 6—4, 7—6 (0) in the French Open final.
The Australian Open runner—up fell flat on her back in the red clay after Schiavone hit a backhand long on match point.
The crowd at Roland Garros was dotted with red Chinese flags and a small vocal group supporting Schiavone. And despite dropping her serve for the only time late in the second set, Li won the final nine points of the match to earn her first major title.
On Sunday, five—time champion Rafael Nadal will face Roger Federer in the men’s final.
The title was only Li’s fifth in her career, and first on clay.
She was broken only once by the defending champion, while she converted two of her eight break points - one in each set. She finished with 31 winners, while Schiavone had only 12.
Li took a 3—2 lead in the first when Schiavone sent a forehand wide. She held at love in the next two games, and then won the set when Schiavone sent a forehand long.
The Chinese player opened the second set with her second break of the match, and then saved Schiavone’s first break point in the next game with an ace. But Schiavone broke back in the eighth game to even the score at 4—4.
Both players held the rest of the way, but Schiavone came within two points of winning the set on five occasions, three times at 5—5 and two more at 6—6.
Although Li has said she is not a big fan of playing on clay, her power and precision worked well against Schiavone, who last year became the first Italian woman to win a Grand Slam singles title.
For Li, the year started well but soon took a dip....being a human...