Li and Bartoli ride waves of hope on semi-final day

By Mark Meadows

PARIS (Reuters) - Li Na and Marion Bartoli carry the weight of their nations on Thursday when they take on three-times grand slam champion Maria Sharapova and holder Francesca Schiavone respectively in the French Open semi-finals.

"Many people think I'm not so good on clay courts, but I think now they should change their mind a little bit," Li smiled to reporters after dispatching fourth seed Victoria Azarenka of Belarus 7-5 6-2 in Wednesday's quarter-final.

The 11th seed has kept her cool while the top four women's seeds have fallen away at Roland Garros and now faces fellow battler Schiavone on Court Philippe Chatrier hoping the packed and partisan crowd can spur her on.

The mixed doubles final, the first showpiece of the two-week tournament, also takes place on Thursday when top seeds Katarina Srebotnik of Slovenia and Serbia's Nenad Zimonjic tackle Casey Dellacqua of Australia and American Scott Lipsky.

The men's singles semi-finals are on Friday when five-times champion Rafa Nadal clashes with fourth seed Andy Murray and second seed Novak Djokovic plays Swiss maestro Roger Federer.

(Editing by John Mehaffey)