French Open - Li makes history with French Open win
Sat, 04 Jun 16:05:00 2011
The Chinese was in control for the vast majority of the match, pushing defending champion Schiavone deep behind the baseline and dictating the rallies, and only stuttering briefly during the second set thanks to a brilliant patch of play from the Italian.
On a humid day in Paris, Li played her second Grand Slam final to perfection for the first set and a half, executing almost every shot she went for and making light of Schiavone's wicked spin as she hit through the ball to pepper the baseline.
Seemingly cruising at a set and 4-2 up, Li was forced to survive a spirited fightback from the irrepressible Schiavone but did so with aplomb, racing through the tie-break to wrap up the title after one hour and 48 minutes when the Italian hit long.
Na Li victory
Schiavone struggled with her serve from the outset, being forced to defend a break point in the opening game before being allowed to go on and hold.
Despite both players hitting well within themselves in the early stages, Li had undoubtedly made the better start to the match and was rewarded for her confident play with a break in the fifth game when Schiavone hit a forehand wide down the line.
The duo then traded love service holds but the damage was already done and Li went on to seal it at the first attempt on 39 minutes when Schiavone sent a forehand sailing long.
The second set picked up in much the same vein with Li breaking her opponent's serve in the first game to further extend her lead.
Li, who had allowed her opponent just five points against serve in the first set, also enjoyed another break point to go 5-2 up but Schiavone saved it with a service winner.
There wes no doubt that Schiavone was slowly turning the momentum to her advantage, the sixth seed showing a first sign of weakness when she was forced to saved a break point in the second game with an ace.
Schiavone also pushed Li to deuce in the sixth game before earning herself more break back points in the eighth, this time grabbing her opportunity to push Li wide and secure the break back when the Chinese player hit wide.
But Li showed fantastic resilience to wrestle momentum back from the 30-year-old Milanese, successfully serving to stay in the set twice, before producing the perfect tie-break.
Li grabbed the first mini-break with a forehand winner before doubling her lead with a confident backhand drive volley winner across court.
And although the 29-year-old enjoyed six match points at the change of ends in the breaker, she only needed the one, falling to the floor on the baseline when Schiavone drilled an aggressive forehand long.Pippa Davis / Eurosport