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History-maker Li Na to face Schiavone in French Open final

Li Na celebrates after becoming the first Chinese player to make the French Open final.
Li Na celebrates after becoming the first Chinese player to make the French Open final.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Li Na beats Maria Sharapova to reach the final of the French Open
  • Chinese sixth seed will play defending champion Francesca Schiavone for the title
  • Schiavone beat French 11th seed Mario Bartoli 6-3 6-3 to make Saturday's final
  • Li becomes the first Chinese player to reach the final at Roland Garros

(CNN) -- Li Na became the first Chinese player to reach the French Open final after a comprehensive victory over former world number one Maria Sharapova.

The sixth seed beat her Russian opponent 6-4 7-5 to reach her second successive Grand Slam final, after she lost to Kim Clijsters at the Australian Open back in January.

For Sharapova, who committed 10 double faults and 28 unforced errors, it means her quest to complete a clean sweep of the four major tournaments on the tennis calendar goes on.

Li, better known for her skill on hard and grass courts, will now face Italian defending champion Francesca Schiavone after she beat Marion Bartoli, from France, 6-3 6-3 in the other semifinal.

China watches as Li Na bids for tennis history in Paris

After her victory Li told CNN World Sport: "It would be a dream come true to win the final. It would be huge for me and my team. It would be an amazing time for Chinese tennis."

She added in a courtside interview: "I never believed myself that I could be in the French Open final, I wish I can do even better in Saturday's final. It was a tough match."

French Open finalist Li Na
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Asked if she had a preference for who she faces in the final Li added: "Both players are tough so I will watch them later and just enjoy the day and then get ready for Saturday."

In the early exchanges it was Sharapova who struggled with the gusty conditions on Court Philippe Chatrier, and Li broke in the second game before racing into a 4-1 lead.

Sharapova battled back to 4-3 with a break of her own, but then served three double faults in the crucial eighth game to hand the initiative back to Li. Though the Chinese then lost her service game she broke back to clinch the set.

The Russian looked more composed at the start of the second set and led 4-2 at one point before a double fault gifted Li a vital break to level things at 4-4. Then another untimely double fault handed Li the match.

Sharapova later told a press conference: "As disappointing as it is to lose, I believe in my game a lot. I know I can improve and improve and get better with every year. I feel like especially on clay I'm getting better."

It would be a dream come true to win the final. It would be an amazing time for Chinese tennis
--Li Na

Schiavone disappointed a partisan French crowd by knocking out Bartoli in just 90 minutes to reach her second successive final.

A solitary break of serve in the eighth game of the opening set helped her to take an early advantage but she quickly went 2-0 down in the second with the crowd urging Bartoli on.

But the Frenchwoman was handed a warning for a time violation which seemed to knock her composure. Schaivone hit back in style, dropping only one more game as she powered into the final.

"I hope my experience from the final last year will help. It's a dream come true to reach another final," Schiavone said courtside.

"But Li has had an amazing year. She was in the Australian Open when she lost to Kim (Clijsters). It will be tough. She is a great player and a great person, but someone has to win."