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Li Na powers into French Open Final

06-03-2011 14:32 BJT

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Li Na has claimed another monumental win at Roland Garros. She became first Chinese player in a Grand Slam final in Australia in January. That was on a hard court surface. Her French Open achievement has been on clay, a surface that was not supposed to be her best. Has her new coach made the difference? Dan Levy is in Paris with more.

China's Li Na has reached her second consecutive Grand Slam final of the season at Roland Garros. After reaching the final in Australia, the sixth seed, playing in the semi-final of a major for only the third time on Thursday, beat three-time Grand Slam winner Maria Sharapova of Russia to set up a showdown with defending Champion Francesca Schiavone. She will play the Italian on Saturday for the Championship."

Li Na said, "Excited of course. But I know I'm still in the tournament and I need one more step, and then my dream will have come true. Tennis in China is not such a top sport so they always focus on table tennis, badminton, so I wish that we can do much better and maybe people can concentrate on tennis, this sport. So that is why all the Chinese players are trying to fight a lot to prove the quality of China tennis."

Li had previously only ever reached the fourth round in Paris, and had tended to struggle on clay, but in April she started working with a new coach Michael Mortensen of Denmark, who was already a big supporter of her style of play.

Michael Mortensen, Li Na's new coach(L)

Michael Mortensen, Li Na's new coach, said, "I've always been a great fan of her. I like the way she is playing, she's playing more interesting tennis than a lot of the other girls are doing, and she was listening to what I have to say, what I think she had to improve to become a better player. And then she explained to me the situation she was in, about the concentration, the different things, and then I gave her just a few ideas (on) how to get through that and then we started working (together).""I mean she has so many strokes; her mind, the way she is thinking (about) tennis she can do every stroke. I mean it's not only forehand, backhand. She can slice, she can come to the net and has a decent serve, but she still has to improve a little bit on her technique and I like the way (she shows) her personality on the court; you can always feel her, you always see her give 100% and I think she's a very interesting player on the court and outside the court."

Schiavone, like Li, made history last year representing her country as she became the first Italian woman to reach the French Open final. And the similarities between the two don't stop there."

Francesca Shiavone, defending French Open champion, said, "It's fantastic. It's an honor for me and I think also for her. So it's time just to enjoy and to try to give the best, not just for ourselves but also for Italy for me and China for her. I think she's really explosive. Physically she's a bomb and it's not easy to contrast her (play against her). But I have a different style of playing and me too I am really explosive. It will be a tough match with big energy and strong mentally because we are veterans."

No matter what happens on Saturday, Li Na will become the first ever Chinese player to break into the world Top 5 next week. She's already beaten three Top 10 players on her way to the final here at Roland Garros. If she can beat just one more she will achieve her most cherished record: the first ever Chinese Grand Slam winner.


Editor:Liu Fang |Source: CNTV.CN

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