Li Na wins first-ever grand slam tennis singles title for China and Asia

09:07, June 05, 2011      

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Li Na of China poses with her trophy near the Eiffel Tower after winning her women's final against Francesca Schiavone of Italy at the French Open tennis tournament in Paris, capital of France, June 4, 2011. (Xinhua/Gao Jing)

History-making Li Na claimed the first-ever grand slam women's singles title for China and Asia, beating defending champion Francesca Schiavone of Italy 6-4, 7-6 (7-0) in the French Open final here on Saturday.

Li Na, 29, became the 38th tennis player in the world to claim a grand slam singles title.

The triumph also raised Li Na from No. 7 to No. 4 on the WTA rankings.

"I felt today the dream came true," said Li, who lay on the clay court after Schiavone fired the last shot out of the baseline. "When I was young, I dreamed about becoming a grand slam champion someday."

While leading 6-0 in the tiebreaker in the second set, Li reminded herself to be cool.

"I kept telling myself: Okay, don't do stupid thing. You need one point, and then you can get it," Li said after the post-game press conference.

Even though her serve was interrupted by a shout from one of her supporters, the Asian top player kept her nerve to finish the clash with this point.

Li Na had already made history at the French Open, having been the first Chinese woman to advance to quarterfinals, semifinals and final.

In the Australian Open earlier this year, Li Na stunned the world as the first Chinese woman to be in a grand slam singles final.

Li said her Italian rival put up a good game.

"The opponent is very tough, and it's a great game. At the last second when she hit the ball out, I really wanted to cry," Li added.

Having far more direct winners than Schiavone, Li dominated the final with her powerful and sharp-angled strokes, breaking Schiavone's third serve game in the first set and the first in the second set.

Schiavone, 30, a dark horse in last year's French Open who had eliminated Li Na in the then third round, played with all her weapons, such as high-bounced serves, great volleys and spinning balls.

However, Li Na's fast pace and attacks made Schiavone difficult to effectively change tactics.

Thanks to Li Na's unforced errors, Schiavone broke Li's fourth serve game to tie the score 4-4 in the second set.

From 5-5 to 6-6, the game was interrupted several times by the umpire who checked whether the ball was in or out. In the tie-breaker, Li Na stormed to an unbelievable 7-0 win.

Source: Xinhua
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