China's Li Na takes French Open title

Li Na of China reacts during her women's final against Francesca Schiavone of Italy at the French...

Li Na of China reacts during her women's final against Francesca Schiavone of Italy at the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris June 4, 2011. (REUTERS/Charles Platiau)

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, Last Updated: 12:58 PM ET

PARIS, France - Li Na became the first Chinese player to win a Grand Slam on Saturday, beating Francesca Schiavone in straight sets in the women's French Open final.

Schiavone was the defending champion and rallied late in the second set, but Li controlled the tiebreak and recorded a 6-4, 7-6 (7-0) victory.

The 29-year-old Li captured her first grand slam title a little more than four months after reaching the final of the Australian Open. She lost to former top-ranked star Kim Clijsters in three sets in Melbourne, but didn't let another opportunity slip away.

At one point it seemed as if the sixth-seeded Li would win going away. She opened the second set with a break and held a 3-1 with another break point chance. While Li hit the ball into the net and Schiavone won the game, Li held for a 4-2 advantage and was in good position to win.

But the fifth-seeded Schiavone started to tilt the match in her favor, winning the next three games.

After holding, the Italian raced out to a 40-15 lead on Li's service game and completed the break when Li hit a shot wide. The hold completed the three-game swing and gave Schiavone a 5-4 edge in the set.

More importantly, Schiavone stole some of Li's dominance. She had recorded just three winners in the first set, but started to make shots she didn't earlier in the match.

Li, meanwhile, had controlled the first set with her serve -- capturing 20- of-25 points -- and with an attentive quickness that opened angles for winners.

Schiavone's effort changed the course of the match, but she couldn't capitalize on several chances to push it to a third set.

After Li's next service game went to deuce when she smacked a backhand into the net, Schiavone sent the ball wide and long on the next two points, respectively, making it a 5-5 set.

Schiavone held and pushed Li back to deuce, but Li gained the advantage after her deep shot nicked the alley line. The chair umpire climbed down to point out where she saw the ball made contact and Schiavone protested, even using her racket to draw a circle in the clay around the spot.

But the call stood, and Schiavone's shot went into the net to send the match to a tiebreak. Li won the first five points and was on the cusp of victory when Schiavone was long. The Italian then forced a baseline backhander over the line, mere feet from Li, who saw it was out and fell backward to the Court Chatrier clay, realizing she had won.

Li had lost their only other meeting on clay -- a third-round match at the French Open last year. But the victory gives her a 3-2 edge in the head-to- head series and a fifth career WTA title. She also claimed $1.7 million with the win.

Schiavone, 30, became the first Italian woman to capture a major title last year, but had her 13-match winning streak at Roland Garros snapped.


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