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Tennis

Li bids for Asian grand slam breakthrough

By Julien Pretot

"This is something important for Chinese tennis. They will be broadcasting the match live on television," sixth seed Li told reporters.

Li had the chance to make her grand slam breakthrough at the start of the year but she lost the Australian Open final to Kim Clijsters in three sets.

"I come to the court more confident," said the Chinese. "You have to believe you can do it.

"I don't know how much I can do for Chinese tennis but I know that if someone makes it to the final the youngsters could say 'maybe I can do it myself'. I hope tennis in China will grow bigger."

GIRLS TOURNAMENT

Fifth seed Schiavone, however, wants to join Margaret Smith Court, Chris Evert, Steffi Graf, Monica Seles and Justine Henin on the list of players who have retained the Suzanne Lenglen Cup since 1968.

"I (once) lost in the quarter-finals of the girls tournament here," said the 30-year-old Italian.

"During that week there was a big match, Graf against Seles, and I remember I went and took a picture. Every year before I come here I look at that picture."

Schiavone's combination of sliced backhands and spinning forehands could be the perfect antidote to Li's power.

"I play kickers, slice and top spin. She plays much more with power," said the holder.

"But the key could be consistency and maybe attack or play deep. Many small things can make the difference."

According to France's Marion Bartoli, Schiavone's semi-final opponent, the Italian is the favorite.

"Francesca feels really good here. She's very comfortable on this type of clay... it really makes her spin disturbing so her game can really bother Li because she likes it when the opponent plays flat," said Bartoli.

"Also Francesca has won here while Li has not and has less experience. That might give the advantage to Francesca."

(Editing by Tony Jimenez)

(This story was corrected in the fourth paragraph to change the number of sets)

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