Li Na lifts French Open singles title, first Asian grand slam singles winner (Lead)

June 4th, 2011 - 11:27 pm ICT by IANS  

Paris, June 4 (IANS) Chinese Li Na created history Saturday as she won 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.

Li Na, 29, with her win turned the 38th tennis player in the world to claim a grand slam singles title.

The triumph also gifted Li Na a great rise from No.7 to No.4 on WTA rankings.

Li Na had already made history three times at the French Open as the first Chinese lady to advance to quarterfinals, semi-finals 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 where she lost to Kim Clijsters of Belgium.

After the match, Li said that since she turned to professional tennis 12 years ago, she made great efforts for today’s triumph.

“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.

Boasting far more direct winners than Schiavone, Li Na dominated today’s final with her powerful and sharp-angled strokes, breaking the Italian’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 where she had eliminated Li Na in the third round, played all out today with all her weapons, such as high-bounced serves, great volleys and spun balls.

However, Li Na’s fast pace and attacks kept the rhythm of the duel high, making it difficult for Schiavone to effectively change tactics.

Schiavone said after the match that Li Na is a talented baseline striker and that she had tried all out to make Li leave her striking point. But Li played her best, Schiavone added.

Thanks to Li Na’s unforced errors, Schiavone, a red-clay expert, broke Li’s fourth serve game to tie the score 4-4 in the second set. From 5-5 to 6-6, the tough battle was interrupted several times to check whether the ball was in or out. In the deciding game, Li Na stormed to victory with a 7-0 margin.

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