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Striding to the middle on Court Philippe Chatrier, the significance of the moment was writ clearly on the faces of the defending champion Francesca Schiavone and Na Li â€“ the weight of history evident on the furrowed brows of the two purposeful women. An hour and forty eight minutes later it was Li who became the first Chinese player to ever win a Grand Slam title when she outplayed the world no.5 and defending champion 6-4, 7-6(0) to etch her name in the indelible chapters of tennis history.
The Chinese made the first move attacking Schiavone in the very first game of the match. Li moved the fifth seed side to side before striking a powerful forehand cross court winner to earn the first break point of the afternoon. The Italian saved the moment with some big serves, but the there was no denying the imminent threat from her determined Chinese opponent.
The break came in the fifth game â€“ a Schiavone drop shot left enough time for Na to race forward and execute a deep forehand winner to earn two breakpoints. Schiavone saved the first with a heavy slice serve, but the Chinese struck a forehand down the line to forge ahead.
Schiavone drove a forehand long on set point in the tenth game and as the players changed ends it was becoming clear that the Chinese was taking control of the finals. With the depth and power on Li's groundstrokes, Schiavone was finding it hard to vary pace or use her creative skills to alter the course of play.
The start of the second set made matters worse for the defending champion, when she fell quickly to 0-40 in the first game. Schiavone saved a couple of those break points, but she sent a forehand long to concede an early break. The Italian had an opportunity to break in the very next game but Na scripted an escape with the help of an ace and a couple of errors off either flank from her generous opponent.
Na had an opportunity to dig the dagger deeper in the fifth game, but she missed an easy forehand by tracking the net when the court was wide open for the kill. But the Italian was already down a break in the second set and time was running out.
Schiavone shanked an easy put away overhead volley in the seventh game and the Chinese started to pile the pressure with some razor sharp strokes off both flanks, but the Italian managed to keep her opponent at bay for an important hold.
With the match on her racquet, Li tightened up in the eighth game and Schiavone finally earned her first breakpoint of the day when the Chinese dumped a routine forehand into the net. A powerful forehand crosscourt from the Italian had Na stretching to the deuce court forcing her shot wide, bringing the second set back on serve and the match was suddenly alive with possibility.
Just as she did in the two sets, Schiavone was the first to serve in the tie-break that followed. With both of them rooted at the net, Li played a perfect lob to force the Italian to scurry back to the baseline before killing the point with a drop volley. From there, it was all Li as she rushed the Italian into a series of errors to race away to 6-0, with a serve to come.
It was all she needed as Schiavone over-hit a forehand after a short rally to send Na tumbling to the ground in celebration of an historic first Grand Slam title for an Asian player. Na Li's victory may signal the emergence of a new dimension in Tennis, dominated for so long by European and American players.
"Today was really tough. I have to say congratulations to Li Na - this year she has grown up so much. To kiss the clay every day is something from my heart and I will always remember this," said Schiavone.
"I was up 4-2 and she came back and I needed to stand up again and finally I made it. I was nervous but I didn't want to show my opponent," recounted the affable Chinese emphasising the most critical phase of the match. In the end though, Na was the dominant player eclipsing the incumbent with her 31 winners to just 12 from Schiavone.
The brave efforts of Na Li, who has been in the final of the last two Grand Slams and the deserving champion here, may have inadvertently given birth to a new dragon that has the potential to set women's tennis on fire.
Women's Singles - Final
 Li Na (CHN) d.  Francesca Schiavone (ITA) 64 76(0)
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