Li Na advances to French Open final against Schiavone

08:17, June 03, 2011      

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Chinese top tennis player and Australian Open runner-up Li Na has entered the French Open final, as she beat Russian Maria Sharapova to set up a Roland Garros showdown with last year's champion Italian woman Francesca Schiavone on Saturday.

Li, currently world No 7, who will bid to become the first Asian to win a grand slam singles title, won former world number one Sharapova 6-4 7-5 yesterday before French hopes died when Schiavone eased past Marion Bartoli 6-3 6-3 win on a windy day in Paris.

Li's consecutive wins has buoyed a nation of huge tennis fans, and it is reported that China's sports minister, Liu Peng, is travelling to Paris to get a taste of the final.

"You obviously try to adjust, especially after you lose the first set. I still feel like I had my share of chances in the first set, and I just didn't take them," said Sharapova.

Li cantered into a 3-0 lead in the first set as she snatched her opponent's serve twice, relying on her powerful forehand to put the normally assertive Sharapova on the back foot.

Sharapova broke Li's opening game of the second set, but Li hung on, saving another break in the fifth game. The Chinese was gifted her next break when Sharapova double-faulted and another service misfire handed Li victory in one hour 48 minutes.

"I had to run a lot (at the semi-final)," Schiavone told a courtside interviewer. "Of course, experience will be a factor in the final. But Li has been playing amazingly this year, starting in Australia. It's going to be tough."

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