China's Li Na continues breakthrough to reach French Open final

08:10, June 03, 2011      

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Li Na of China reacts during the interview after the women's semifinal against Maria Sharapova of Russia at the French Open tennis tournament in Paris June 2, 2011. Li won 2-0. (Xinhua/Gao Jing)

China's top player Li Na continued her history making journey at the French Open, beating Maria Sharapova of Russia 6-4, 7-5 on Thursday to roar into the women's singles final.

Li, 29, became the first Chinese woman to enter the French Open singles final. She had refreshed Chinese players' best performance twice at the French Open as the first Chinese to reach the quarterfinals and semifinals.

Thursday's final berth ensured Li Na, No. 7 seed, to rise to at least No. 5 on the WTA rankings.

"Of course I'm excited, but not as excited as I did in Melbourne," said Li, who stunned the world as the first Chinese woman to reach Grand Slam singles final at the Australian Open earlier this year.

Li Na was superior in the pace and sharp-angled strokes. Her sideline-oriented attacks broke Sharapova's defense repeatedly.

"She certainly played a lot better than I did and a lot more solid, and, you know, she played the crucial points better," commented the 24-year-old Russian who has proved herself talent by winning the other three Grand Slams.

Li Na and Sharapova met seven times in WTA events before the semifinal. Sharapova won the first five and Li Na took the latest two. However, Li didn't think her third consecutive win against the Russian ace came easily.

"I don't think it's easy. Every time against Maria is tough. She always fights for every point," said Li. "So even I had the match point, I didn't know if I can win or not, because she never gives up."

"I just want to prove a little bit for China tennis," said the long-time Chinese top player, representing the Asian tennis as well. "I'm sure they broadcasted the match live in China, so maybe many children who watched the match would think that one day they can do the same or even better."

Li will fight her final battle against the defending champion Francesca Schiavone. The Italian ousted Li in the third round at last year's French Open, but Li showed her confidence ahead of the clash on Saturday.

"Melbourne is first time to the final, you didn't have any experience before. So you didn't know what happened, what I should do in the final," said Li. "But this time is second time to the final. Of course, you know what you should do. I know it's different surface, but you have played six matches already."

Li will rise to world No. 4 on the WTA rankings if she could clinch her first Grand Slam title at Roland Garros.

Source: Xinhua

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