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Li bids for Asian breakthrough in Paris final

By Julien Pretot

In a clash of styles, Schiavone will try to defy sixth seed Li's flat, powerful shots with her mix of top spin and slices that seem better adapted to the clay courts.

Some 50 million Chinese television viewers have already watched Li's performances in Paris, and she can expect Chinese sports minister Liu Peng to show up on court Philippe Chatrier Saturday.

"I never feel the pressure. If someone can stay behind you, push you a lot, it's good," Li, who lost the Australian Open to Kim Clijsters earlier this year, told a news conference on Friday. "I like that."

Schiavone will look to a picture of Monica Seles and Steffi Graf for her inspiration.

"(When I was young) I played first round, second round and then I lost in the quarter-finals in the girls' tournament," she recalled.

"During that week there was a big match, Graf, Steffi Graf, against Monica Seles. I remember that I went there with the camera to take a picture.

"Every year before I come here, I look at that picture; this one picture," said Schiavone, who could join Margaret Smith Court, Chris Evert, Steffi Graf, Monica Seles and Justine Henin in retaining the Suzanne Lenglen Cup.

While no Asian-born player has yet won a grand slam, Michael Chang, the American son of Chinese-born parents, became a hero to Asian tennis fans in 1989 when he triumphed at Roland Garros at the age of 17 to become the youngest male grand slam singles champion.

(Editing by Clare Fallon)