French Open: Li crashes out to leave Sharapova in driving seat
The French Open will crown a new women's champion on Saturday after Li Na, the winner here 12 months ago, was beaten on a 3-6 6-2 6-0 scoreline by Yaroslava Shvedova, a qualifier from Kazakhstan who is currently ranked No 142 in the world.
Li, who became the first Chinese player to win a Grand Slam singles title with her triumph here last year, appeared to be comfortably in control in the first set but lost 12 of the last 14 games.
"I couldn't put the ball back in the court," Li said afterwards.
Shvedova, who was a top-30 singles player two years ago, has specialised in doubles of late. She is ranked No 5 in the world in doubles and has won two Grand Slam doubles titles.
Having taken control of the second set, she broke her opponent's serve three times in the third, eventually securing victory when Li netted a backhand. The Chinese made a total of 41 unforced errors, but for the most part it was Shvedova's attacking game that proved decisive.
Li's defeat leaves Maria Sharapova as the clear favourite, though you would not have guessed that from the Russian's performance against Klara Zakopalova, who was beaten 6-4 6-7 (5/7) 6-2.
The match, which lasted three hours and 11 minutes, could not have finished in more appropriate fashion. Zakopalova's double fault on the final point sent Sharapova through after a match littered with 101 unforced errors and a remarkable 21 breaks of serve. (© Independent News Service)