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Superb Li Na storms to first singles Grand Slam title for China

China's Li Na has just made a tennis revolution – the 29-year-old defeated last year's winner Francesca Schiavone in the final of Roland Garros and the sport not so popular in China is now expected to bloom, or at least to start blooming, and when you have a population of so many people in question than it's a really big deal. As for the very championship match, Li was solid, had precise shots and was in charge more or less throughout the match, which can be described as one calm Grand Slam final, without much fuss and excessively expressed emotions.

The world No.7 Li had a straightforward win in the first set. In 39 minutes the Chinese sixth seed faced no break points, took Schiavone's serve in the fifth game and simply marched on to take the set 6-4. The second set Li continued in the similar fashion, breaking Schiavone's serve in the very beginning and at 3-1 Li had a great opportunity to bring the match too close to an end, but she netted a clear shot and the world No.5 Schiavone slowly managed to get back into the match when she leveled at 4-4. Then both players held their serves until the tiebreak in which Li started shining again and actually won it without losing a point! Final score: 6-4 7-6(0).

Li was playing aggressively and her shots were mostly landing where she wanted them to land, so her number of winners totaled 31 to her opponent's only 12.

En route to the title match at the 2011 French Open Li defeated Barbora Zahlavova Strycova of the Czech Republic in the first round, Silvia Soler-Espinosa of Spain in the second, Sorana Cirstea of Romania in the third, ninth seed Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic in the fourth, seed No.4 Victoria Azarenka of Belarus in the quarterfinals and seventh-seeded Maria Sharapova of Russia in the semis.

In case you forgot, this French Open final was actually Li's second Grand Slam singles final. Her first one she played this year, at the Australian Open. As for her WTA titles, Li has four: Guangzhou (2004), Gold Coast (2008), Birmingham (2010), Sydney (2011).

Regarding the 2011 French Open prize money, the Nike-clad Li Na earned an astonishing 1.2 million euros, which is about 1,750,000 US dollars. As a runner-up Schiavone earned 600,000 euros, i.e. almost 900,000 US dollars.

I'd also like to mention a nice factbox Reuters compiled about the rise of China's tennis (they published it before Li won Roland Garros). (photos: francetvsport)

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15 thoughts on “Superb Li Na storms to first singles Grand Slam title for China

  1. Omair

    Really happy for Li. SHe deserved to win. I was really rooting for her. Hope that she can do good at Wimby and U.S open. She will be one of the favourites in the wimby field.
    Keeping my fingers crossed for her success at wimby.

  2. Mirjana

    I'm really glad for Li, she plays really attractive and has been in great form in recent months. I hope she'll continue this way, and not loose focus because of this win. As for Francesca, I just think she again had a lot of luck to get into this final. She showed nothing except her fighting spirit for these 2 weeks, and just that isn't enough.

  3. Marine

    Another year, another surprise. She has become a tennis legend in China. It is pretty crazy how she went unnoticed by the tennis commentators who only focused on hyping up the ´usual suspects´, isn´t it?

  4. Leo

    It's a big day for china and the rest of Asia. Truly, Li Na deserve to win the French Open. Her aggressiveness on the court combined with smart tennis skills and excellent footwork was the formula to subdue a tenacious opponent like Francesca Schiavone… Hopefully, this is just a start of many good things for Li Na and the rest of Asian players.

  5. Francesca

    Li deserved to win, she played a great match, full of winning and she always has been concentrated in the game, making few errors… I'm happy for her :)

    I think for Francis, disappointment apart, it was still a fantastic result, today the best on court was Li and it's right that she won!
    But I don't consider her last year's win as the result of fighting spirit and sheer luck, I find it unfair because Francesca has a beautiful tennis, different from many players, but the best is the fact that she is not playing only for herself but also for the public.

  6. Marine

    Francesca, yes, I agree. At first I also thought that, oh well, it was just luck but she convinced me about her great qualities in this tournament. I think many older players quite look up to her now. LOL.

  7. donaLd

    Li Na is great, she's Asia's woman that wins Grand Slam!
    She's inspire all other woman's players in Asian countries…..
    Salute!

  8. P!nky

    My prediction that she is going to be year end number one was a long shot, but not so much anymore.

  9. Schroeds_i_luv_tennis

    Will be awesome to see what the legacy of this win will be a few years down the line. For all we know half the tour could consist of Chinese players in 5 to 10 years as a result…

    She'll be a force at Wimbledon too I think.

  10. Marija Post author

    Schroeds_i_luv_tennis, haha I believe that can easily become true. I'm very excited about this Asian revolution and I'm looking forward to following it.

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