Thursday, June 2, 2011

Li crushes under-par Sharapova in straight sets to reach first French Open final


Pumped up: Na Li saw off Maria Sharapova in straight sets

Li Na reached her second successive grand slam final with a 6-4 7-5 victory over Maria Sharapova at the French Open.

The sixth seed, who lost to Kim Clijsters at the Australian Open, took advantage of Sharapova's serving struggles to add the Russian to an impressive list of scalps in Paris, including Petra Kvitova and title favourite Victoria Azarenka.

Li had won their last two meetings but the most recent of those came on grass at Edgbaston last year and Sharapova certainly went in as the favourite after thrashing Andrea Petkovic in the quarter-finals.

Both players list clay as their least favourite surface, with the Russian once famously describing her movement on the red stuff as like a cow on ice, but she has grown in confidence this week.

She did almost come a cropper in the second round, though, trailing French teenager Caroline Garcia by a set and 4-1 before mounting one of her trademark comebacks.

A stretch too far: Sharapova had been in fine form coming into the semi-final

The swirling wind had affected Sharapova that day and conditions were very similar here, which was certainly a factor in Li winning the opening three games.

The seventh seed pegged her back to 4-3 and then 5-4 but she could not hold onto her serve, throwing in five double-faults in the set and missing a simple forehand on set point.

New ground: Li Na will contest her second Grand Slam final

Sharapova seemed to have turned things around with an early break in the second set but her serving demons were never far away and a seventh double-fault helped Li to level at 4-4.

The Chinese player was now firmly in the ascendancy and, with Sharapova serving to stay in the match for a second time, Li created two set points, taking the first on Sharapova's 10th double.

Poor service: Sharapova struggled with her serve throughout the semi-final clash

source: dailymail

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