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Francesca Schiavone and Li Na are Roland Garros 2011 finalists

Here we go again, two players pretty much no one was talking about in the lead-up to the French Open are now in the final of the claycourt Grand Slam – Francesca Schiavone and Li Na. Schiavone was mentioned here and there, mostly as last year's surprise champion, while Li, we can safely say, was totally neglected. Anyway, Schiavone beat Marion Bartoli 6-3 6-3 in today's semifinal (yes, Bartoli reached the final four, which just adds to the fact that predictions are useless) and Li defeated Maria Sharapova, the most favored player to win the tournament.

Before anything I'd like to repeat that Schiavone and Li are playing the final of the French Open and Caroline Wozniacki, Kim Clijsters, Vera Zvonareva, Victoria Azarenka, Samantha Stosur, Jelena Jankovic, Petra Kvitova, Julia Goerges are all gone. Many of them long gone!

The world No.5 Schiavone made a big statement by reaching the final again. Even if the Italian doesn't win the remaining match, she has proved that her last year's success wasn't just an incidence, and even though people will always argue and mention the circumstances or whatever, I think the 30-year-old Schiavone has a solid proof that she can rock. Her quarterfinal against Anastasia Pavlyuchekova this week was one of best showcases for Schiavone's physical and mental capabilities.

Every now and then the seventh-ranked Li becomes "the first Chinese player who ________". In January she played the Australian Open final as the first Chinese Grand Slam finalist in women's singles, and now, just a day after becoming the first Chinese to reach the singles semifinals at Roland Garros, she's become the first Chinese to play the finals, by ousting three-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova 6-4 7-5. Li made twice more winners than the Russian (24 to 12), five less unforced errors (23 to 28), seven double faults less (3 to 10), and hit one ace to her opponent's zero.

Schiavone and Li have a 2-2 career head-to-head record. Their last and only match on clay was at last year's Roland Garros and Schiavone won 6-4 6-2 in the third round. Although, as unpredictable as women's tennis is, this statistical point doesn't mean much. (photos: chascow, Stephane Martinache)

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10 thoughts on “Francesca Schiavone and Li Na are Roland Garros 2011 finalists

  1. mg

    Maria just couldn't fight against Li who was using every opportunity Maria gave her and against the wind.Too bad,especially for that double fault on match point, but semifinal at Roland Garros is a great result for her and Maria had a terrific clay court season.Congrats to Li,and I'll be cheering for her against Francesca,it would be nice to see a Chinese girl with Grand Slam trophy. Yeah,who would say these would be the last 4 and 2…I never thought Caroline could get to the end,but was hoping for Azarenka,Goerges,Kvitova, and JJ.My prediction has shown good only in case of Maria, and I'm more than satisfied just with it. :D

  2. P!nky

    I will admit I didn't see this final coming, but it is going to be a great match. Go Li! As you said predictions are useless, but they are also a lot of fun.

  3. P!nky

    combined age is 60 years and 79 days, oldest woman's slam final since Wimbledon in '98

  4. Gregoire Gentil

    Caro, Vika, Kim, Julia, Ana, Vera, Sam, Jelena, Petra, Maria (by order of preference): what the f… are you doing??? A very disappointed fan.

  5. brenda

    i've never understanded why masha was the favorite? Hello??!!! Winning roma is not the same to win roland garros! I wantes maria to win, becauseof the carrer slam, but that was impossible, and i knew ! She was the one with lower force in the semifinal! Li and francesca are the best players on the tournament and they and we deserved that final :)

  6. Marine

    Brenda, I agree. She said that clay was not her favourite and has not done well on it in her career at all. People picked her just because she won a slam before, I guess.
    Actually when it comes to predictions, my were quite right as I tipped Schiavone as a dark horse for this tournament and she did not disappoint :-P!

  7. mano

    "Saturday I will go on the court enjoying, breathing, saying thanks for everything, because for me to arrive in the final is fantastic," Schiavone said. "And then I will play tennis. Sometimes we forget to play tennis – we go inside ourselves and break everything and we’re upset. But it’s just tennis. It’s fantastic."

    How can you not root for her, just a li'l bit? :)

  8. Dave from Tennis DVDs

    I think Maria was a false fav to win the title. She still is not the greatest mover on clay. Add to that the strong wind blowing every day which showed up her limitations even more on the surface.

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