Friday, June 3, 2011

And I did not see this one coming...

As Maria Sharapova prepared to serve while only a point from defeat in the French Open semifinals on Thursday, Li Na was thinking what any opponent would at that precise moment.

“I was, like, ‘Please, double-fault. That way I can win the match,’” Li explained to the crowd a few moments later.

Sharapova obliged. Her second serve hit the white tape atop the net and bounced back for Sharapova’s 10th double-fault of an error-filled afternoon, closing Li’s 6-4, 7-5 victory. The result ended Sharapova’s bid to complete a career Grand Slam, and allowed Li to reach a second consecutive major final.

At the Australian Open in January, Li was the runner-up, the first tennis player from China to reach a major championship match. At the French Open on Saturday — when she will play defending champion Francesca Schiavone — Li can become the first Grand Slam champion from her nation of more than 1 billion people.

Schiavone beat 11th-seeded Marion Bartoli of France 6-3, 6-3 in the other semifinal. A year ago at Roland Garros, Schiavone became the first woman from Italy to win a Grand Slam title. But she had failed to make it to the final of any tournament since then, until taking the last four games to beat Bartoli.

“When I come here,” the fifth-seeded Schiavone said, “I feel something special.”

After Bartoli’s last two-handed forehand — she grips her racket with both fists on nearly every shot — dropped into the net to end the day’s second semifinal, Schiavone celebrated by bending down and rubbing her right palm on the clay court, then making a fist and kissing it.

At 30, Schiavone would be the first woman at least that old to win a Grand Slam title since Martina Navratilova was 33 at Wimbledon in 1990. Combine Schiavone’s age with the 29-year-old Li’s, and Saturday’s match will have the oldest pair of finalists at a major tournament in 13 years.

She fell in love with the French Open the first time she came to play in the junior tournament and got a chance to see Steffi Graf and Monica Seles play in the semifinals. Schiavone sat in the stands, like any other fan, and snapped a photo she still looks at to this day.


Carlos said...

Everyone seems to be focusing on Divapova. I'm not convinced her run was a phenomenal one. Lets start with the first round, she defeated Lucic who is ranked 94. Second round, Caroline Garcia ranked 188 had Divapova on the ropes, the kid choked Divapova moves on. Third round Divapova defeats Jan Chan who is ranked 99. At to this point all her opponents were cup cakes. Fourth round, Aggie had Divapova on the ropes, she choked Divapova continues her run. QF only proved how vastly overrated Petkovic really is. Two chokes propelled Divapova into the semis. Semifinal, the weather in the form of wind played the major spoiler. Ball bashers don't do well in windy conditions that is no surprise, but what surprised me, and to me is the surprise of the tournament Divapova choked in the second set. She became unravel after that and showed negative emotions on court. She no longer had the poker face that is accustomed.

Na deserves to win RG 11 she captured the scalps of the Crazy Czech, Ostrich (choked), Angry Bird (under achiever/overrated), Divapova (hype). Unlike Divapova, Na had to play tougher opponents and her quality of play although not consistent catapulted her to keep moving on in this tournament.

Sponge Bart Square Pants was jittery from the get go. The French crowd tried to get into the head of the Furry-less Furby without success. I'm not surprised Furby won in straight sets.

This was one of those tournaments that it was a curse to be a top seed and it too spilled over unto the doubles. None of the top four seeds in singles reached the semis and in doubles only the third seed reached the semis, and they lost.

Emily or as Carlos likes to call me "Captain" said...

Li definatly deserves to win here. Okay great the Furby proved 2010 was no fluke, but she wont have what it takes to down a confident Li Na.

Agree with all points on Divapova, not sure how she will go in Wimbledon, it is grass but I am not confident she will go far, I just have feeling.

Ostrich choked and Divapova was riding a flase hype wave to the SF, however, I think what happend to Vika is she got caught up in her own hype, everyone was saying how this was now her tournament, and she has never been a favourite for a Grand Slam before. When she is at the top of her game she truly is GOAT potentail. well OOTGOATS potenetial anyway :P Hopefuly she can get her head together, be talked down and enter Wimbledon not a favourite and win the title playing her best tennis.

Sponge Bart had been there before, but with no pressure, no home crowed and no expectations. And she beat the world number one 6-1 in the 3rd! but with the pressure of the french crowed I dont think she coped very well.

I am already too excited for Wimbledon :P

caps321 said...

I hope Na Li wins since Schiavone already has a French Open title.

I also want Vesnina/Mirza to win the doubles title which is coming up after the Caroline Garcia match. (Garcia is currently down 2-4 in the first set.)

caps321 said...

Caroline Garcia along with Vesnina/Mirza lost today.


Carlos said...

I second that, Boooooooooooooooo!

One correction in doubles the fourth seeded team did reach the semis.

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