Last year, Francesca Schiavone became the first Italian woman to ever beat the French Open betting lines. Now, she has a chance to defend her crown in Saturday’s final. However, she is going to be running up against a piece of history as well, as Na Li is the first Chinese woman to ever be in the French Open Final as well.
Li really had a tremendous match against Maria Sharapova in the semifinals, taking advantage of all sorts of mistakes that the Russian beauty made along the way in the match. The Chinese woman only had eight break chances in the 22 games played, but she really took advantage of them, winning five of the eight to break Sharapova’s back. The match ended up finishing 6-4, 7-5. Li had a heck of a fight in the first round of this tournament against Barbora Zahlavova Strycova, needing three sets to bounce the Czech native, but aside from that, she has only lost one set along the way, that being in the fourth round to ninth seed Petra Kvitova. Sure, some of the biggest names in women’s tennis ended up nowhere to be found in Li’s draw into the finale, but she deserves all the credit in the world for beating three straight Top 10 ranked foes to get here. Li also becomes the first woman this side of the Williams sisters in recent years to play in back to back finals of Grand Slam events. Li lost the 2011 Australian Open final, but she hopes for better here at Roland Garros.
And the streak hits 13… Schiavone has won 13 straight matches here on the clay courts of Roland Garros, and she really is budding into one of the best tennis players in the world. After back to back brutal matches against Jelena Jankovic and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Schiavone knew that she was going to be up against it when she took on No. 11 Marion Bartoli in Thursday’s semifinal. Relatively short work was made of her French foe though, as Bartoli succumbed 6-3, 6-3 in spite of the fact that she had a huge home court advantage on her side. Just like Li, Schiavone has taken a tough road to get to this point in spite of the fact that no players ranked higher than 10 have been on her slate. Still, four ranked foes in a row is an impressive feat, and we know that it is no fluke after last season’s run all the way to the championship last year as well for the Italian.
After two not so stellar French Open picks in the women’s semifinals, we think that we have a great idea that Li is going to be the one that ends up getting the job done in the finale. She is playing at the highest level of her career at this point, and after being a bridesmaid at the Aussie Open, she’ll be the bride on Saturday. Last year was the year for the Italian. This year, Li -117 is the right choice.
is a staff writer living in the Orlando area. He has covered NFL, MLB, college football, CFL, AFL, NBA, college basketball, NASCAR, golf, tennis, and the NHL for a number of various outlets in his career, and he has been published by a number of different media outlets, including the Orlando Sentinel and the Wall Street Journal.
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