5 Jun 2011

Li Na makes history

7:24 am on 5 June 2011

Chinese tennis player Li Na is the new French Open champion and the first Asian player to win a grand slam singles title.

Li beat last year's champion, the Italian Francesca Schiavone, 6-4 7-6 in the final in Paris.

Sixth seed Li, who lost the Australian Open final earlier this year, grabbed fifth seed Schiavone's tactics sheet and tore it apart in a confident display of power and accuracy.

Li, who beat hard hitters Victoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova en route to the final, built her success on her lightning-quick backhand and precise serve as Schiavone never hit her stride on the red clay.

Li allowed Schiavone, who was hoping to break the pace with her sliced backhand, only five points on her serve in the opening set.

She snatched her opponent's serve in the first game of the second set and saved a break point with an ace as she opened a 2-0 lead, only for Schiavone to fight back.

Li set up a break point for 5-2 that Schiavone saved with a service winner, and it was game on from there.

The 30-year-old Milanese broke back for 4-4, sending the contest into a tiebreak that Li whitewashed 7-0.