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Page last updated at 16:37 GMT, Thursday, 2 June 2011 17:37 UK

French Open day 12 as it happened

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By Chris Bevan

1733: And so endeth another entertaining day at the French Open. I hope you've enjoyed it as much as me. I'll leave you with some words of advice... namely, if you have anything planned for Friday afternoon, then cancel it now. Andy Murray versus Rafael Nadal will be live on BBC TV and this website, plus Radio 5 live from 1300 BST, followed by another epic in the shape of Novak Djokovic versus Roger Federer. Don't miss any of it. Bye for now.

Maria Sharapova does not use the wind as an excuse after her struggles on serve, not to mention a rash of double-faults, against Li Na undermined her attempts to reach her first French Open final: "It's tough for me, it's tough for her. She played a very good match. She certainly played a lot better than I did and a lot more solid. She played the crucial points better. I had some chances in the first set on her serve, a couple of games that went deuce and I had a couple of break points. I felt like I had a short ball and I just didn't step in and then made an unforced error. Then you give your opponent confidence. At times I didn't serve well and was rushing more than I had to. Considering the conditions, maybe I was just trying to go for too big second serves especially."

Twitter
seocolin on Twitter: "I doubt Li will win the French Open but this is an epic day for Chinese tennis! Could the LTA learn from China's tennis programme?"

Li became the first Chinese player to reach a Grand Slam final in Australia earlier this year, and I'd say she has enough about her to cause Schiavone problems, if only with her power. As for whether the LTA can learn from China's tennis programme? I'd say that's a definite yes.



Text in your views on 81111
From Phil in London, via text: "Bartoli has got to stop the ridiculous jumping around between points. It looks stupid, is exhausting, and probably cost her the match."

1712: So, we now know who will contest this year's women's final... and on Friday we will discover which of the world's top four men will continue their progress. Andy Murray is confident he can beat Rafael Nadal in their semi-final, claiming "I can definitely win", while Roger Federer feels he is back to near his best and is similarly hopeful of stopping the seemingly invincible Novak Djokovic, saying: "I think I'm playing really well again. Even during the clay-court season, I thought I wasn't playing poorly. I had some tough losses but now I can really play the way I was hoping to play here at the French Open."

The match is over
1707: A bit of a shock to tell you about in the men's doubles, where top seeds the Bryan brothers have been dumped out by Juan Sebastian Cabal and Eduardo Schwank, who won their semi-final 7-6 (7-4) 6-3. Waiting for them in the final are Max Mirnyi and Daniel Nestor, who beat Michael Llodra and Nenad Zimonjic 7-6 (7-4) 7-6 (7-5).

BBC Sport's Piers Newbery at Roland Garros: "Champ Schiavone beats Bartoli 6-3 6-3 to unexpectedly return to the final. Reminiscent of Joe Johnson at the 1987 world snooker. Just me?"

1700: So, those were the French Open women's semi-finals. Heartbreak for Maria Sharapova and Marion Bartoli, but did any of you predict a Li Na-Francesca Schiavone final when the tournament began at the start of last week? No, ne neither... although it's all but impossible to predict anything in the women's game right now. Anyway, the important thing is that we have a cracking final to look forward to and, no, I'm not going to choose a winner.

BBC Radio 5 Live
Andy Murray's mother Judy on 5 live sports extra: "The key thing was that Schiavone stopped Bartoli from playing the game she wanted to play. Once you get Bartoli on the run you have a real chance because she's limited in terms of movement. But she's had a great tournament. I like the way Li Na plays, she has a lot of variety - although not as much as Schiavone - and the experience of the Australian Open final. She'll definitely take it to Schiavone and I'm sure we're in for a great final."

Schiavone beats Bartoli 6-3 6-3
Gulp. A double-fault at 0-30 brings up three match-points for Francesca Schiavone and when Marion Bartoli dumps a backhand into the net on the next point, the defending champion is through to her second sucessive final, where she will meet China's Li Na. Impressive stuff.

The match is over
1652: DEFENDING CHAMPION FRANCESCA SCHIAVONE BEATS MARION BARTOLI 6-3 6-3 TO REACH THE FRENCH OPEN FINAL


Bartoli hasn't stopped dancing just yet, mind. She does a sort of jig back out after the change-over and goes on the attack, using the wind at her back to smash Schiavone's first serve back at her for a clean winner. Two successive net-cords for Bartoli both go in Schiavone's favour, though, and she is not about to let this match slip through her grasp. She holds and is one game away from her second successive French Open final.
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*Schiavone 6-3 4-3 Bartoli
By the looks of things, Bartoli is going to bounce out of the French Open. A couple of unforced errors leave her 15-40 down and, when Marion fails to put away a cross-court volley at the net, Schiavone laps it up to put away a winner into the open court. She is definitely in pole position now.
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Schiavone 6-3 3-3 *Bartoli
Not much being given away on the Schiavone serve right now and she continues to play a very neat and tidy game, with the odd sloppy shot to keep us all on our toes. Time to see what Bartoli has got left in the tank...
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Twitter
Lukinshap on Twitter: "At work and following the match online and hoping Bartoli takes Schiavone all the way."

Twitter
Times tennis correspondent Neil Harman on Twitter: "Bartoli is such a jumble of a player, hair, serve, ball toss, exaggerated swings at back of court. It stresses me to watch her."

*Schiavone 6-3 2-3 Bartoli
A couple of huge points for Bartoli at 30-all and deuce and she only goes and wins both of them, the latter with a wonderful cross-court forehand that leaves Schiavone scrambling in its wake. She hangs on to hold, and is still in this match by the skin of her teeth. Oh, by the way, the weather is lovely in Paris right now but Jonathan Overend on 5 live sports extra says it is expected to turn on Saturday and Sunday, with thundery showers forecast for the men's final on Sunday. Not great timing, that.
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BBC Sport's Piers Newbery at Roland Garros: "Schiavone's small troop of fans are massively outnumbered but they made their fair share of noise when their woman got the break back in the second."

Schiavone 6-3 2-2 *Bartoli
Schiavone is cranking this up now, and keeping her opponent at arm's length. Bartoli has had her moments but she must be thinking what she can do to turn the tide in this match - I'm not sure she has got much left up her sleeve. She IS still bouncing, though. I have a feeling she won't stop doing that until she is back in the locker room.
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BBC Radio 5 Live
Andy Murray's mother Judy on 5 live sports extra: "It was a really topsy-turvy game there, both players had chance to win it and again we saw the contrast in styles. Bartoli was bashing the ball from the baseline while Schiavone was scampering around and gliding the ball back, eventually getting the dividend. Something Schiavone has to try and do a lot more is bring Bartoli into the net."

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From Jack from Ballymoney, via text: "No matter who goes through today it's a dream final. If Schiavone goes through, she'll have a chance to do what nobody thought she could do, and if Bartoli goes through, she's got a chance to win her first slam in front of her own fans. And with Li Na also contending to be the first Chinese woman to win a slam, no matter who wins, it's a fantastic result."

*Schiavone 6-3 1-2 Bartoli
The variety of Schiavone's shots is so impressive, and the different spin she puts on every ball must be so difficult to counter. Bartoli gets a lucky break with a net cord at 30-40 that just about makes it over, but there is no stopping Schiavone, who keeps the pressure on her opponent and soon has another break-back point. This time, Bartoli hits long, and we are back on serve in this second set. "Schiavone is outplaying Bartoli at the moment," says Sam Smith on the Red Button. "This is a clay-court masterclass."
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Li Na after her victory over Maria Sharapova put her in her first French Open final, where she will face Marion Bartoli or Francesca Schiavone: "She had a huge big serve so I thought please double fault so I can win the match," said the 29-year-old, who is aiming to become the first Asian to win a Grand Slam singles title. "I never believed myself that I could be in the French Open final, I wish I can do even better in Saturday's final. Both players are tough so I will watch them later and just enjoy the day and then get ready."

Schiavone 6-3 0-2 *Bartoli
The French crowd are in a frenzy when Bartoli digs in to go 15-30 on the Schiavone serve but they do at least have the courtesy to turn the volume down when the umpire asks them too, only to make another incredible racket when their girl forces her first break-point of the match thanks to some huge backhands at 30-all. She takes her chance too, when the Italian sees a forehand fly wide, and the fans on Chatrier go crazy. In a word, this is noisy.
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*Schiavone 6-3 0-1 Bartoli
No sign of Bartoli crumbling at the start of the second set, and she holds easily enough despite a couple of unforced errors when she tried to end the point too soon. I've just seen the stats for the first set and they were pretty even, save for winners, where Schiavone led 13-5... with most of them coming in the last couple of games.
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Twitter
ZebKG on Twitter: "Bartoli's little funny dance when bouncing the ball is mesmerising."


The bloke who tweeted this is called Zebedee. I kid you not. To be honest Zeb, I find Bartoli's dance more annoying than mesmerising... but each to their own.

Schiavone 6-3 0-0 *Bartoli
Schiavone has definitely stepped things up in the last game or two, and she is too hot for Bartoli to handle. The Frenchwoman is chasing shadows and being moved all around the court by the crafty Italian, who is showing exactly why she is the defending champion. That's the first set in the bag, in 40 minutes, and Bartoli needs all the help she can get from the home fans now.
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BBC Radio 5 Live
Andy Murray's mother Judy on 5 live sports extra: "It was a wonderful shot from Schiavone and she used it a lot in the last 10-12 points. It's been very, very effective."

*Schiavone 5-3 Bartoli
The wind is making things tres tricky for both players, whipping up the red dust and swirling it round Chatrier - and into their eyes. Bartoli's unorthodox serve seems to be doing OK despite that, but her first double-fault of the match at 40-30 throws a spanner in the works. Schiavone ups the ante on the next point, moving Bartoli around the court expertly before delivering a perfect forehand winner to force our first deuce of the match. She isn't finished there, either, putting away a precise forehand into the corner to force our first break-point too, but Bartoli respondes in kind, saving it with a blockbusting backhand... before an unforced error from Bartoli and exquisite back-to-front forehand winner that slides away from the Frenchwoman gives her the break, and she will serve for the first set next. One word: Wow. "That was a sensational return," says Sam Smith. "Both players have played well but the scoreline reflects the fact that, ever so slightly, Schiavone has had the better of the first set."
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Schiavone 4-3 *Bartoli
Servers are still very much on top here - almost a total contrast to what we saw in the Sharapova-Li match earlier. Schiavone does not give Bartoli as much as a sniff, so the 11th seed (who I might start calling Zebedee, after the thing on a spring in the Magic Roundabout) has bounced off to her chair for the change-over, where hopefully she will stay still for a second or two.
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*Schiavone 3-3 Bartoli
No problems for Maid (or is that mad?) Marion on serve so far today, and the Frenchwoman is a non-stop fist-pumping machine as she holds to love for the second time today. "I have never seen Bartoli as pumped up as this in a match before," says Sam Smith. "She is right in Schiavone's face."
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Schiavone 3-2 *Bartoli
Bartoli's hell-for-leather approach is not making things easy for Schiavone, but her serve is solid enough to keep her out of danger. A double-fault at 40-15 doesn't help, but Bartoli's attempt to attack her second serve on the next point doesn't come off and that is another hold dans le bag. "Francesca is handling the crowd very well so far," says Sam Smith. The locals are getting a bit noisy though.
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*Schiavone 2-2 Bartoli
As well as the wind and her opponent, Schiavone has to deal with some moody French fans today, who are clearly desperate for their woman to triumph. The defending champ gets a few jeers when she (unsuccessfully) challenges a call, and Bartoli is on the front foot in any case, fizzing over a succession of groundstrokes that eventually wear the Italian down. "This is some tennis from Bartoli," says Sam Smith on the Red Button. "Schiavone has to control the length of her shots out there, because Bartoli is able to put anything short away."
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Schiavone 2-1 *Bartoli
Lots to savour from this match so far, with both players covering a lot of court in the first few games, and producing some imaginative tennis too. Bartoli is doing a bit better on the Schiavone serve now, and should really force a deuce after bringing the Italian into the net at 40-30, but the chance is gone when she nets a short ball.
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*Schiavone 1-1 Bartoli
Bartoli keeps dancing around when she is serving too, and it seems to work. She holds to love, and she is up and running. I guess I'd better work out how to spell kangaroo... might be using that description quite a lot in the next hour or two.
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Schiavone 1-0 *Bartoli
Bartoli is bouncing around like a hyperactive kangaroo as she waits for the Schiavone serve but it doesn't do her much good. Apart from a shanked forehand which loops long, the Italian makes a faultless start and she is already hitting the ball very smoothly.
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Twitter
bartonm on Twitter: "Looking forward to Bartoli-Schiavone - two wonderful characters, unorthodox games - should be a good one."

1521: Here we go then. Schiavone will serve first.

France's Marion Bartoli, the 2007 Wimbledon runner-up, on coping with the pressure of the expectations of the home fans at Roland Garros: "The past years I really felt the pressure here. I've been in a bad way. I was really going to the court without any confidence to be honest. I was not feeling well on the court. I was not feeling well outside the court. I was scared about what the press would say when I'm going to lose the match. I trust myself much more than before. In the past I would come here without much confidence. I had not won that many matches."

Twitter
The WTA's Kevin Fischer on Twitter: The last player aged 30 or over to win a Grand Slam title was Navratilova at 1990 Wimbledon (33 years, 8 months). 13 women on 30 occasions have advanced to an Open Era Grand Slam final aged 30 or over; only 5 of these have occurred in the last 20 yrs."

1515: Schiavone has turned 30 since her triumph at Roland Garros last year and in fact she is almost 31, which makes her practically an OAP in tennis terms... where you can be over the hill before you are out of your teens. Not too many people win Grand Slams once they get to her age, apart from the likes of Martina Navratilova obviously.

1513: Ah, here they are now. By the way, Bartoli has beaten Schiavone only once in five previous meetings dating back to 2003, but they have never played each other on clay before.

1509: Apparently it's going to get even windier in Paris. I'm half expecting to see people/cyclists/houses fly past next, a la the Wizard of Oz. Providing they haven't already been blown off somewhere, defending champion Francesca Schiavone and French hope Marion Bartoli are due on court for the second semi-final any minute now.

Twitter
BBC Radio 5 live tennis correspondent Jonathan Overend on Twitter: "Congratulations Li Na who smiles as she walks off the court. The wind a huge factor as Sharapova struggled on serve."

BBC Sport's Piers Newbery at Roland Garros: "Li Na beats Sharapova 6-4 7-5, the Russian taking double faulting to new levels. "What made the difference at the end?" Li is asked. Er... "

Li beats Sharapova 6-4 7-5
Ouch. ANOTHER double-fault leaves Pova 15-30 down, and she fires a forehand long on the next point to hand Li two match points. The crowd (and me) fear the worst when she misses with her first serve and her misery is complete when she flops her second serve into the net for her 10th double-fault. Not the way you want to lose any match and she's been her own worst enemy today.

The match is over
1459: LI NA BEATS MARIA SHARAPOVA 6-4 7-5 TO REACH THE FRENCH OPEN FINAL

*Sharapova 4-6 5-6 Li
No such problems for Li Na on serve, despite some more huge gusts of wind on Chatrier. That means another test for Pova, and again she will serve to stay in the French Open. This is going to be tense...
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Twitter
More from Andy Murray's mum Judy on Twitter: "If MaSha was a vegetable, she wud be a cucumber. Cool, or what? Great competitor."

Twitter
Andy Murray's mum Judy on Twitter: "Absolutely roasting on Chatrier. Enjoying the Li Na show. MaSha got yips on serve."

Sharapova 4-6 5-5 *Li
Sharapova just cannot land a first serve for love nor money at the moment and Li Na is not holding back, attacking everything that moves. She does precious little wrong but only succeds in bringing some of the best tennis of the day from Pova, who holds and is still alive and kicking in this match. "That was real nerve," says John Lloyd. "Maria played some huge groundstrokes there."
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*Sharapova 4-6 4-5 Li
Maria is deep in conversation with herself after another mistake leaves her 30-0 down but she comes out fighting to take the next two points... she obviously doesn't fancy serving to stay in the match next. That's exactly what she will do, though, after some textbook stuff from Li Na sees her meet a venomous Pova return with a clean winner down the line and she holds her nerve to hold out and move within a game of a place in the French Open final. "Maria will be fighting a big battle with her own serve in the next game," says John Lloyd on the Red Button.
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BBC Radio 5 Live
Tim Henman's former coach David Felgate on 5 live sports extra: "When you saw that ball toss you knew she was in trouble - it was already well on it's way down by the time she hit it. That was a really important game, not a good time for two double faults."

Sharapova 4-6 4-4 *Li
Not a good time for the errors to creep back into Pova's game, giving Li the confidence to smash back a big return at 30-all and earn a break-back point. It gets worse for the Russian, because she promptly serves up another double-fault. That has been her biggest failing today.
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*Sharapova 4-6 4-3 Li
Li Na is looking very edgy out on Chatrier at the moment, so a solid service game is just what the doctor ordered. She gets it, thanks to some wild returns from Sharapova, and holds to love for the first time in the match. Can she fight back in this second set? "I think so," says John Lloyd on the Red Button. "I have no idea why her mind wandered after she wrapped up the first set but she is hitting the ball a lot better now."
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Twitter
Brad_y_Bunch on Twitter: "Great to see Maria Sharapova playing well!! Hopefully another Grand Slam won't be far away... how about Saturday?"

Sharapova 4-6 4-2 *Li
Apparently the wind is going to get worse on Chatrier as the afternoon progresses, which will make life difficult for Marion Bartoli and Francesca Schiavone. It doesn't seem to be bothering Pova too much on serve at the moment... another easy hold for the Russian.
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1429: BREAKING NEWS Andy Murray's semi-final against Rafael Nadal will be the first match on Philippe Chatrier on Friday from around 1300 BST. I will bring you info of where you can watch and listen to that one very shortly.

*Sharapova 4-6 3-2 Li
Three double faults for Li Na in total now, and I'd hate to see her stats for unforced errors in this set. "Li is falling apart mentally," says Sam Smith on the Red Button with the score at 0-30. "There is a lack of intensity in her shots compared to what is on the other side of the net." Maybe Li hears her, because she claws back to 30-all and then deuce. Both players are making a LOT of mistakes but the end result is a hold for Li. "A scrappy game from both women," adds Smith. It wasn't the best, was it?
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Sharapova 4-6 3-1 *Li
Pova's problems on serve are behind her on this evidence and Li is not getting near it at the moment... well, she does pick up a point here but that is as good as it gets.
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BBC Radio 5 Live
Tim Henman's former coach David Felgate on 5 live sports extra: "In the first set, I was struck by how cleanly both player were hitting the ball. So far in the second set, it has been far more scrappy and they're struggling for rhythm."

*Sharapova 4-6 2-1 Li
Li stops the rot, by holding serve too, but she is not looking half as confident as she did a few minutes ago. Pova is going to throw the kitchen sink at this second set but the Chinese player needs to remember how to attack as well as defend.
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Sharapova 4-6 2-0 *Li
Blimey, we've waited a long time for this - Pova has held serve, to love as well. Meanwhile, I think I have finally cracked this Li Na first name/surname debate and worked out there is no 'l' on the end of Sharapova. Things are looking up. If you give this a manual refresh, the score should be right too.
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From Andrew, via text: "It would appear Sharapova has caught Murrayitis - where you become incapable of playing your best tennis until you're losing."

*Sharapova 4-6 1-0 Li
Some stats from that first set for you: Pova was well on top in double-faults (5-0) and unforced errors (16-10) but a long way behind in winners (14-5), which is probably why she lost it. Still, this match is far from done and dusted yet, and Maria takes the game to Li at the start of the second set, fighting back from 40-15 to deuce with a barrage of huge groundstrokes that give her a couple of break-points. Li hangs on, but is soon fighting more fires when she reaches a short ball but pokes the ball wide. Again the Chinese player survives, to take us to a fourth deuce but the longest game of the match is ended when Pova puts away a slow second serve before Li Na's first double fault of the match hands us our fifth straight break. Phew.
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Sharapova 4-6 0-0 *Li
Yep, thought so. Another double-fault, her fifth of the match, leaves Pova at 0-40. She saves one of those set points and is in control of the next rally too... but as she steps in to put away a short forehand, the wind holds up the ball and her attempted winner clips the top of the net cord and flies a mile wide. Unlucky, but that is the first set in the bag for Li Na.
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*Sharapova 4-5 Li
Ah. I know I was only just hailing the quality of this match, but both players seem to have lost their way badly in the last few games. Li Na makes a right old mess of her attempts to serve for the set, sending down a flurry of errors to hand Pova a lifeline when she needed it most. Mind you, the Russian needs to hold serve to stay in this first set and, after three breaks in a row, that is easier said than done in this wind.
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The match is over
It's bad news for a Briton
1355: Oli Golding was knocked out of the boys' singles earlier today and now he's gone from the boys' doubles too. The 17-year-old Brit and his Czech partner Jiri Vesely - the top seeds - have gone down 6-4 4-6 (10-8) to American pair Mitchell Krueger and Shane Vinsant in the quarter-finals on Court 17.

Sharapova 3-5 *Li
Oh dear. Just as soon as Sharapova drags herself back into the set, she promptly shoots herself in the foot. Three double-faults see Li Na break back, with the last of Pova's serves landing nearer to the baseline than the service box. I'd be blaming the wind, but then I'm not a three-time Grand Slam winner... Na to serve for the set next.
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BBC Radio 5 Live
Tim Henman's former coach David Felgate on 5 live sports extra: "Sharapova was a point away from going 5-1 but it's now back on serve. She never gives in, at any point or in any situation. And that's why she back in this set."

*Sharapova 3-4 Li
Na's turn to feel the pressure, but she responds by going on the attack and wins a big old point at 15-30. Pova is moving a bit like that "cow on ice" but she is still dragging herself around the court and getting everything back, and her resilience gives her the next rally and a break-point. She converts it too, with a big cross-court backhand to put this first set back on serve. "Li Na has not done an awful lot wrong," says John Lloyd on the Red Button. "But the quality of play from both women is extremely high. They are both returning the ball so well, and this is an excellent match."
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BBC Radio 5 Live
Tim Henman's former coach David Felgate on 5 live sports extra: "Big hold for Sharapova, that. She would have been out of the set but came through with some strong serves and now the pressure is on Li."

Sharapova 2-4 *Li
More trouble for Pova, who is going for the lines... and missing. Is it because of the wind, or is she playing too aggressively because she knows Li Na is not over-awed by her power? Who knows, but at 0-30 she is on the brink of throwing this first set away. Maria digs in, and hauls herself back to 40-30 thanks to some big shots that do land in but this is a far from routine hold. A double fault means she needs a big serve to rescue another break point and she is having to battle for everything out there. She eventually holds, letting out a big 'C'mon' in relief and/or celebration but Na is still in control of this first set.
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*Sharapova 1-4 Li
If Li Na gets her first serve in, she generally wins the point. If not, she is in big trouble... because Pova will smash her weaker second delivery back at her with interest. That pattern takes us to 30-all and then deuce, before two big serves help to keep the sixth seed on course for the first set.
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Twitter
jakebsutton on Twitter: "Surely it's going to be a Li Na-Schiavone final?"

Sharapova 1-3 *Li
The stands are filling up nicely on Chatrier, apart from the corporate boxes - nothing gets between those guys and their free lunch, does it? Anyway, back on court, Pova is serving well despite the gusts of wind, and she holds comfortably enough, celebrating with an extremely casual fist-pump as well as nodding her head. She is off the mark at last.
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Twitter
Stephen_Hen_EK on Twitter: "Hoping for a Sharapova win today, she's still box-office and deserves to complete her 'box-set'."

BBC Radio 5 Live
Tim Henman's former coach David Felgate on 5 live sports extra: "Sharapova's hitting the ball well, it's just Li's doing everything that little bit better. She is the one who looks more at ease on the clay and in these windy conditions."

*Sharapova 0-3 Li
Better from Pova, much better, as she goes on the attack for the first time and puts Na on the back-foot off each of her own serves. Three big returns take Maria to 15-40 but she makes a mess off her first two chances to break back, netting a backhand and then failing properly to adjust when the wind holds up what should have been a put-away forehand. Pova's footwork is the reason another break-back chance comes and goes immediately afterwards and Na responds with a couple of booming groundstrokes of her own. The Chinese player holds to extend her first-set lead, and that is a BIG chance wasted for the seventh seed.
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BBC Radio 5 Live
Tim Henman's former coach David Felgate on 5 live sports extra: "We're beginning to see how Sharapova struggles to slide on the clay. At 15-30, Li brought her into the net and instead of sliding to return it she took lots of little steps before stopping and turning back. By that time she had already been lobbed. From what we've seen in the early exchanges, Li looks far more comfortable out there."

Sharapova 0-2 *Li
It looks like Na is going to try to move Pova round the court as much as possible today, and she does get some joy when she fires down a rasping crosscourt forehand winner, and also a clever drop-shot to bring the Russian into the net before finishing her off with a lob. That takes us to 30-all and Na is going for this big-time, taking the next point with another clean winner into the corner. Pova saves the first break point, but is soon facing another one when Na finds the opposite corner with a backhand. The next point sees Pova flop a backhand into the net and we have our first break of this semi-final.
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*Sharapova 0-1 Li
Li Na's serve is already up and running by the looks of things, and she doesn't give Sharapova a sniff in the opening game. "A great start for Na," says Sam Smith. "So much depends on her first serve today because Maria is so strong returning."
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Text in your views on 81111
From Martyn in London, via text: "Hi Chris. So looking forward to the women's semi-finals. With four contrasting players it's too close to call. Will it be Sharapova, the graceful warrior or Li, the cool, clever consistent one? And then there's Bartoli the determined grafter versus Schiavone with her intelligent play and ability to mix it up. Should be cracking stuff with real quality."

1310: Right then here we go. Pova, at 24, is the youngest of the semi-finalists, five years younger than Li Na. Both of them are trying to reach the French Open final for the first time.

John Lloyd on the Red Button: All four players in the women's semi-finals have a genuine shot of the title. Sharapova is probably favourite, though, and who would have thought we would ever say that on clay? Li Na coped very well with the wind in her quarter-final, playing some very clever shots, but I am still going to go with Sharapova to edge this one."

1303: Pova wins the toss and opts to receive first. It's a wee bit windy on court, but the players will be used to that by now, non?

1302: Right then, here come the players... Li Na is all smiles as she strides on to Chatrier, followed by a sterner looking Maria Sharapova who is resplendent in yellow.

Twitter
Coach and commentator Brad Gilbert on Twitter: "Just a hunch: I think it's going to be a little bit warmer and quicker conditions and once again windy and I'll say Shazza is the slight fave."

The sun is out
1255: It looks a glorious day in Paris, judging from my TV pictures. Just a reminder you will be able to watch both of today's women's semi-finals on the Red Button and live web stream in the UK, and also listen to commentary on 5 live sports extra too (give this page a manual refresh to get the link). Happy? Good.

1252: I've got a few stats lined up ahead of the Schiavone-Bartoli match about the Italian's age but if you ever need proof it is just a number, then look at Martina Navratilova. The 56-year-old has teamed up with Jana Novotna to win the Women's Legends (over 45s) doubles title today, beating Iva Majoli and Conchita Martinez 7-5 6-1.

Twitter
willkozza on Twitter: "Looking for a Sharapova-Schiavone double this afternoon. Nice early start to the weekend!"

1243: Not long until Pova and Na emerge on to Philippe Chatrier. They have met seven times before, with the Russian leading 5-2 in their head-to-head record - but Na has won their last two matches. Pova won their only previous meeting on clay, in the fourth round at Roland Garros in 2009, but only after a struggle... coming through 6-4 0-6 6-4. I've got a feeling this is going to be pretty close.

1239: And I thought the women's draw was tough to call. The top four men's seeds are all in the semis, meaning there is a fabulous line-up to look forward to on Friday. I'm hearing that Murray-Nadal is likely to be the first match, starting at around 1300 BST, but I will confirm that as soon as I can. As for who will end up in the final, I wish I had the same confidence as the mystery punter who has staked £120,000 on Novak Djokovic beating Roger Federer in the other last-four clash. Your thoughts?

1231: Speaking of Andy Murray, his latest BBC column is up now, including news of a new injury (a broken tooth courtesy of a tough Paris baguette) and how he hopes to beat Rafael Nadal in Friday's semi-final too of course. "Patience is the key when you play Rafa," says Murray. "His ball is very heavy, so it's really difficult to go for shots straight off the bat, you need to work the ball very well and when you get the right opportunity - go for it." Sounds easy, doesn't it? It won't be.

BBC Sport's Piers Newbery at Roland Garros: "Andy Murray is out on Court 4 having a hit with a young left-hander, with a growing crowd snapping away. Part-time coach Sven Groeneveld looks on, with Judy in the stands. Hugh from The Herald says her boy is "looking relaxed on his first day off this week". Hugh never takes a day off."

1223: Now, I can't pick the winners from today's women's semis, which are far too close to call, but that doesn't mean you can't, does it?It's easy to get in touch too. I'm Chris Bevan, and you can tweet me at @chrisbevan_bbc using the hashtag #BBCTennis please. Or feel free to text me via 81111 (UK) instead.

It's bad news for a Briton
1220: I've got one result from earlier to bring you up to date with, and I'm sad to have to report the end of Oli Golding's run in the boy's singles. Bjorn Fratangelo of the United States thumped Golding, who was seeded fourth, 6-1 6-1. There is some good news for the 17-year-old from London, though, in that he has been given a wildcard for Queen's, which starts on Monday by the way. Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Andy Roddick and Juan Martin del Potro will all be there too.

1214: Sharapova, of course, once described herself on clay courts as being like a "cow on ice" but she is moo-ving (sorry) pretty well on the red stuff right now. The Russian seventh seed said "there is no doubt I have improved on this surface" after crushing Andrea Petkovic 6-0 6-3 in the quarter-finals. Pova lost to Ana Ivanovic in her only previous appearance in the semis at Roland Garros (in 2007) while her Chinese opponent has never been this far in Paris before. All to play for then...

1209: Then there's the clash between defending champion Francesca Schiavone and French hope Marion Bartoli, carrying the hopes of a nation desperate for first home success at Roland Garros since Mary Pierce in 2005. No pressure there then...

1206: Who are the last women standing? Let's start with our first semi (on court from around 1300 BST) between Maria Sharapova, looking to complete a career Grand Slam, and an in-form Li Na, conqueror of another of the favourites, Victoria Azarenka, in the last eight.

1202: And then there were four. After a fortnight of shocks and surprises in a women's draw at the French Open that was already sans the Williams sisters, we've still been left with a very strong looking semi-final line-up. Who is your money on?



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see also
Schiavone wins to set up Li final
03 Jun 11 |  Tennis
Bartoli bullish for French semi
02 Jun 11 |  Tennis
I can beat Nadal in semi - Murray
02 Jun 11 |  Tennis
Golding handed Queen's wildcard
02 Jun 11 |  Tennis
French Open day 12 photos
02 Jun 11 |  Tennis
French Open day 11 as it happened
01 Jun 11 |  Tennis
French Open quotes - day 11
01 Jun 11 |  Tennis
Murray wins to set up Nadal semi
02 Jun 11 |  Tennis
Nadal reaches last four in Paris
01 Jun 11 |  Tennis
Order of play
23 May 09 |  Tennis
Women's singles latest
21 May 10 |  Live scores
Men's singles latest
21 May 10 |  Tennis
Men's singles results
21 May 10 |  Tennis
Women's singles results
22 May 11 |  Tennis
Men's singles draw
26 Aug 11 |  Tennis
Women's singles draw
28 Jan 10 |  Tennis
Tennis on the BBC
26 Oct 11 |  Tennis


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