Li defeats Schiavone to claim French Open Title
Li Na wrote her name into the history books as she defeated defending champion Francesca Schiavone in straight sets to win the French Open.
Appearing in her second consecutive grand slam final, Li overpowered Schiavone 6-4 7-6(0) to become Asia's first grand slam champion.
In a match between two veterans of the game - their combined age of 60 made it the oldest grand slam singles final since Jana Novotna defeated Nathalie Tauziat at Wimbledon in 1998 - it was the 29-year-old Li who emerged triumphant.
Schiavone, bidding to become only the sixth woman to defend her French Open crown, nervously hung onto her opening service game. Despite the pressure of carrying the entire Chinese nation's hopes on her shoulders, Australian Open finalist Li was clearly unfazed by the significance of the occasion and levelled with ease.
Schiavone has impressed with the variety of her game at Roland Garros, but she struggled to deal with the power of the sixth seed. It was Li who took first blood, snatching a break to take a 3-2 lead, before consolidating her advantage with a service hold to love.
Schiavone's best efforts to keep her opponent guessing were disrupted as she was forced onto the defensive by a series of powerful forehands from Li, who wrapped up the opening set in 39 minutes.
And she started the second set with just as much intent, exhibiting perfect range and power as Schiavone stood rooted to the spot as another winner flew past. Schiavone got a look in with a break-back point when a mi++++ backhand sent Li scurrying deep into the corner, enabling the Italian to come into the net to tuck away a neat backhand volley.
However, an ace from Li silenced the Parisian crowd as the Chinese No. 1 took a 2-0 lead. Schiavone was then twice forced to dig deep to save break points on her service games as she desperately tried to find a way back into the match.
She showed tremendous courage to break back to 4-4 as Li began to show signs of nerves. The errors began to creep in, and Schiavone began playing with renewed belief, and she twice forced Li to serve to stay in the set, but Li hung on to force the tiebreak - before clinching the match in emphatic fashion.