4th June, 2011
Li Na made history as the first Chinese player to win a Grand Slam singles title with a straight-sets win over defending champion Francesca Schiavone in the French Open final today.
The 29-year-old, ranked seventh in the world, made up for defeat in January’s Australian Open final by beating the Italian fifth seed 6-4 7-6 (7-0).
Dominant on serve and consistently threatening from the baseline, Li overcame a late wobble to take away Schiavone’s title in one hour and 48 minutes.
The pair, according to bbcsports, had met four times previously, with two wins apiece and Schiavone winning the last on her way to the title at Roland Garros last year, making her the slight favourite in many people’s eyes.
Li had never been a fan of clay in the past, whereas Schiavone’s heavy top spin, vicious kick serve and sweeping single-handed backhand, has proved perfect for moving opponents out of position on the red dirt.
That was the theory; in practice the match set off on a different path and only rarely deviated.
Li’s cross-court forehand, which would prove a key shot, earned her a break point in the opening game that went begging, before doing the job in game five for a 3-2 lead.