Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

ENCORE!

Alain Choquette: A Hilarious Magician in Paris

Read more

FOCUS

France welcomes Iraqi Christian refugees

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

Emmanuel Macron: A new economy minister with a pro-business agenda

Read more

THE OBSERVERS

More of this year's best Observers stories

Read more

#TECH 24

Changing the world, one video game at a time

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Socialist Party summer conference kicks off in explosive atmosphere

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Canada and Russia exchange snarky tweets

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Ebola in Nigeria: First death outside of Lagos

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Niger: Top opposition figure to be questioned in baby-trafficking scandal

Read more

  • First case of Ebola confirmed in Senegal

    Read more

  • British killer escapes from French psychiatric hospital

    Read more

  • Ukraine to relaunch NATO membership bid

    Read more

  • France shines in IMF list of world’s promising economists

    Read more

  • Mapping Ukraine: Canada and Russia in ‘tweet for tat’ row

    Read more

  • Obama has 'no strategy yet' on potential Syria strikes

    Read more

  • Netflix to woo French with ‘House of Cards’ set in Marseille

    Read more

  • French businesses ‘hoping for a new Thatcher’

    Read more

  • Syrian refugees surpass 3 million, UN says

    Read more

  • West backs Ukrainian claims of Russian incursion

    Read more

  • Libyan PM resigns as Islamists set up rival administration

    Read more

  • UN says 43 peacekeepers captured in Golan Heights

    Read more

  • The deleted tweets of Manuel Valls

    Read more

  • Peru seizes record 6.5 tonnes of Europe-bound cocaine

    Read more

  • Pakistan army to mediate between PM, protesters

    Read more

  • PSG face Barcelona, Ajax in tough Champions League draw

    Read more

  • In pictures: Billions of locusts invade Madagascan capital

    Read more

  • Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie say ‘I do’ in France

    Read more

  • Erdogan sworn in as Turkey's president

    Read more

Sport

Li Na triumphs at French Open in first for China

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2011-06-04

Li Na defeated title holder Francesca Schiavone of Italy in straight sets (6-4, 7-6) in the women's final of the French Open on Saturday, becoming the first Chinese player to win a grand slam singles title.

AFP - Defending champion Francesca Schiavone told the new generation of emerging stars to watch and learn when she and fellow veteran Li Na clash in Saturday's French Open final.

With a combined aged of 60 years and 79 days, Schiavone and Li, the first Chinese in a Paris final, will contest the oldest Grand Slam women's singles title match since the 1998 Wimbledon final between Jana Novotna and Nathalie Tauziat.

Saturday's encounter will also be the sixth straight Grand Slam trophy showdown between two players aged 25 or over.

"It's good for tennis and for the younger players' careers. It shows to them that it is not just one moment, that careers are long and they have to control themselves and improve," said 30-year-old Schiavone.

"Their careers do not have to be short."

Schiavone, who is the second oldest Roland Garros finalist in the Open era, believes her style, based on guile rather than brute force, and featuring one of the few remaining one-handed backhands, also has a place in 21st century tennis.

"On clay you have to have a mix of everything -- good tactics, you have to be strong mentally and physically," said the Italian.

"You cannot just play power. You need to defend, counter-attack, go to the net. Clay is for the heart, mind and body. You have to use your brain."

Schiavone became the first Italian woman to win a Grand Slam title when she defeated Samantha Stosur in the 2010 final.

She said that led to an explosion of interest in the sport in Italy.

"There were lots of kids signing up at the clubs. Ok, we are not billions of people like in China. We are just 70 million. But we are Italians -- we have big hearts."

Li, who will be playing in her second successive Grand Slam final after finishing runner-up to Kim Clijsters in Australia, believes she and Schiavone have the experience of years on the tour to call upon at the majors.

"We've been on the tour for so many years, we have that experience. But you can't change your age. You just have to do what you can," said Li.

"I think I can do better on Saturday. Melbourne was my first major final, I had no experience of that before."

Li added that although she works with experienced coach Michael Mortensen and fitness trainer Alex Stober, she still has close links with the Chinese tennis federation.

"When I started, the government paid for a coach and all the travelling, but in 2008 I changed my team because I wanted to change the way I was doing things.

"I am not sure that I have become a better player because of it. I am still a national team player and if I need help from the federation, like visas for example, we have good communication."

Date created : 2011-06-04

  • FRENCH OPEN

    Federer wipes out Djokovic to face Nadal in final

    Read more

  • ROLAND GARROS

    Nadal through to final after painstaking win over Murray

    Read more

COMMENT(S)