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By Rohit Sharma
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When Francesca Schiavone won the Roland Garros title twelve months ago, many attributed a favourable draw to her phenomenal success. Despite getting the better of in-form Wozniacki and Stosur en route to victory, Schiavone's triumph was termed as serendipitous. This year, as a result of the Italian's title drought post French Open success, critics and tennis pundits ruled out a possibility of a title defence. But here she is, back in the finals, proving everyone wrong. Schiavone's confident victories over players like Marion Bartoli and Jelena Jankovic have given her the real time contendership for the top honours in Paris once again.
Schiavone's opponent, Chinese star Na Li scored some scintillating wins over hottest WTA players in the previous rounds. After getting past Czech Barbora Zahlavova Strycova in the first round, Na Li scored two easy wins before recovering from a set deficit to beat another Czech star Petra Kvitova. Li then edged past Miami champion Victoria Azarenka and Rome winner Maria Sharapova in straight sets to secure a final berth. Na Li already has a slam final finish under her belt from 2011 Australian Open and is hoping to go one step better with title triumph at Roland Garros.
Both players have contested four matches before and are tied at 2-2 in the head-to-head which makes it even more difficult for us writers to predict a winner.
Schiavone, who won the pair's last meeting almost 12 months ago right here at Roland Garros in the third round, is definitely a favourite by the virtue of her experience and calculated play on red dirt. Na Li, however, seems hungrier of the two to go a step further at Grand Slam events and claim title glory. With an overwhelming demolition of some of tour's hottest players like Sharapova and Azarenka, the Chinese star has made her contendership slightly stronger than the Italian.
TennisEarth.com's Pick - Na Li in three sets.
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