It’s a Chinese Opener at Paris

Paris. China’s increasing global clout in world sports reached a new high when Li Na became the first Chinese to win a single’s grand slam title ever. She is also the first Asian to do so. The 29 year old defeated Francesca Schiavone of Italy 6—4, 7—6 (0) in the French Open final. Li Na demolished the defending champion 7-0 in the tie-breaker.

Li Na who was the runner-up at the Australian Open made sure that this is going to be her day. Her service was broken only once by the defending champion, while she converted two of her eight break points - one in each set. This was Li’s first title at clay court and fifth overall. Li lead the first set 3—2 when Schiavone sent a forehand wide. She held at love in the next two games, and then won the setpoint when Schiavone sent a forehand long.

The Chinese player opened the second set with her second break of the match, and then saved Schiavone’s first break point in the next game with an ace. But Schiavone broke back in the eighth game to even the score at 4—4. Schiavone came within two points of winning the set on five occasions, three times at 5—5 and two more at 6—6, but couldn’t place the final punch. In the tie breaker, Schiavone, who last year became the first Italian women to win a grand slam proved no match to the power and precision of Li Na.

Li Na felt flat on the red clay at the end of what was the oldest Grand Slam singles final in 21 years, the combined ages of the two players was 60 years and 79 days. She was absolutely ecstatic after her historic win and expressed hope that her rare feat will catapult tennis’ popularity in China.

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