China’s Li Na has defeated defending champion Francesca Schiavone 6-4, 7-6- to claim her maiden Grand Slam title. Li dominated the match to also provide China with their first Grand Slam and no doubt inspire many around the world in what was a battle of mature players.
When the match started it was fairly even and the outcome depended hugely on the intensity brought by Schiavone and whether she was able to handle the often brutal ground strokes of Li Na. It was Li who first had break points and drew first blood before accelerating to a 5-3 lead in the first set after some strong service games.
The dominance of Li Na continued in the early stages of the second set with an immediate break of serve. The frustrated Italian fought valiantly to recover the break but accuracy of Li’s serve and ground strokes proved to be too much to control.
Li had an opportunity to secure a double break at 3-1 but a tight forehand allowed Schiavone to hold the crucial game. Li continued to construct points well, thumping anything that dropped short from the Italian. Schiavone grunted and yelled as she defended more break points as Li slowly became tighter knowing she was near the end when serving for a 5-3 lead.
Li was tight and seemed bothered by the crowd support for Schiavone and instead of being a match away from victory the second set was leveled at four all. Francesca simply had to hang around as Li came undone. The crowd, who had been fairly impartial initially, lifted Schiavone’s confidence and energy, seeming to shake her out of her early frustrations.
The adrenalin flowed through Schiavone as the crowd chanted her name as she went ahead 5-4 in the second set. Some wild shots from Schiavone and some tense play from both women saw Li level at 5-5 the crowd chanting “Na Li! Na Li!”
After a series of controversial calls, one which seemed to cause the wheels to fall off for Francesca, Li managed to force a tie break and then opened with a gutsy play at the net, showing her great court movement. Finding her first serve Li quickly moved to a 3-0 lead, trying to stay focused on play and not what was rightfully hers after dominating for almost the whole match.
At 0-4 Schiavone complained that the crowd were making noise during the point but it wasn’t enough to stop Li taking a 5-0 lead with two points on serve to try and close it out.
After closing out the tiebreak to love Li Na fell to the ground in joy.