Defending champion Francesca Schiavone and the surprising Chinese Li Na will battle for the 2011 French Open title after successfully navigating the semifinals on Thursday.
Schiavone beat France’s own Marion Bartoli 6-3, 6-3, mixing up her game to confound the two-hander who committed 18 unforced errors to 11 winners.
“The crowd today was fantastic with Marion — they supported her from the first point to the end. I can understand, when I play Roma it’s the same,” Schiavone said. “Saturday I will go on the court enjoying, breathing, saying thanks for everything, because for me to arrive in the final is fantastic. And then I will play tennis.”
Schiavone will face the 29-year-old Li Na in the final, with the two tied 2-2 in their career head-to-head meetings.
Li defeated Maria Sharapova 6-4, 7-5. Sharapova held a break in the second but lost the edge due to her wonky serve. The Russian pitched in 10 doubles faults during the match, including one to end things on match point.
“I think I’ve proven a little bit for Chinese tennis — I’m sure they showed the match the same time in China, so maybe some children saw the match and think they can do the same or even better one day,” Li said. “I just need one more step and my dream will come true.”
Sharapova took the positive out of her semifinal effort.
“This was a great result — it has been a good season on clay,” the Russian said. “I got to the semifinals here after not being in this stage of a Grand Slam for a long time. So I’m quite proud of what I’ve achieved here. I still feel like I have a lot of work to do, but of course I’m going to come back and try to win.”
In the men’s doubles semis on Thurday, No. 2 seeds Max “The Beast” Mirnyi and Daniel Nestor defeated No. 4 seeds Michael Llodra and Nenad Zimonjic 7-6(4), 7-6(5), and in the final will face South Americans Juan Sebastian Cabal and Eduardo Schwank, who shocked the No. 1 seeds and 2003 champions the Bryan brothers 7-6(4), 6-3.
Cabal and Schwank were playing their first tournament together as a team. Prior to Roland Garros, the 25-year-old Cabal had won only one tour-level doubles match.
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