Defending champion Francesca Schiavone was dethroned at the 2011 French Open, as Li Na cruised to a straight set victory. Just one year after Schiavone became the first Italian woman to win a grand slam singles title at the age of twenty-nine, Li is now the first Chinese woman to win a singles grand slam title. She fell flat on her back at the end of the second set, celebrating as Schiavone hit a shot long that she probably could (and should) have made.
That was the trend for the majority of the match, as it happens.While Li Na looked calm and collected, Schiavone was missing shots she'd been making all tournament and generally looking beatable from the very beginning. The first set was a simple win for Na, as she didn't get her serve broken until the second set. Na took a 3-2 lead in the first set, before dominating and holding at love her next two service games, and let Schiavone send a shot long (much like the match winner) to take the first.
She was broken in the second set after saving herself from one earlier on with an ace, and the set was tied at 4-4. Schiavone actually came close to taking the set on a couple of occasions, but in the end it was Li's power and accuracy that came through, coupled with Schiavone's startling propensity for missing shots left and right. The final scores were 6-3, 7-6(0).
Much was made before the match about Li Na and the hope of tennis taking off in China, a huge market for anything these days, and with good reason. They're such a nationalistic group of people, and Na's victory should do well to encourage many people there to watch and perhaps take up the sport. She didn't play at all like somebody who was burdened with that kind of responsibility, though, and walked away with her first grand slam title, her first ever title of any kind on clay.
Next up: the men's final between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal