French Open: Li Na beats Petra Kvitova to make quarters
- Roland Garros, Paris
- 22 May - 5 June
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Sixth seed Li Na came back from a break down in the deciding set to beat Petra Kvitova and reach the French Open quarter-finals for the first time.
The Chinese player, runner-up at the Australian Open in January, overcame the ninth seed 2-6 6-1 6-3.
Li will next play fourth seed Victoria Azarenka who impressed in defeating unseeded Ekaterina Makarova 6-2 6-3.
Meanwhile, seventh seed Maria Sharapova will face Andrea Petkovic in the last eight after both won on Monday.
Russia's Sharapova dug deep to beat Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland 7-6 7-5 and progress, while 15th-seeded Petkovic of Germany defeated number 25 seed Maria Kirilenko of Russia 6-2 2-6 6-4.
Li's win made her the first Chinese player to make it through to the last eight at Roland Garros and she has now reached at least the quarter-finals of every Grand Slam tournament.
The 29-year-old hit fewer winners than Kvitova - 15 to 21 - but committed 19 unforced errors to her opponent's 33 and finished with a first-serve percentage of 70% to the Czech's 58%.
Li has never won a clay-court title on the WTA Tour but insists her lack pedigree on the surface should not prevent her from aiming high.
"If I win in the fourth round, what should I say?" asked Li, who was beaten by Kim Clijsters in the Australian Open final. "(That) I played bad tennis? I don't think so. I've tried to keep the same level as Melbourne, or even better.
"I don't like clay courts, but I'm still in the quarter-finals. For a professional player, if you don't like the arena, the weather, the surface, you still have to play the match.
"You have no choice. You have to challenge yourself to play."
Kvitova looked poised to win the match at 3-0 up in the deciding set but her momentum disappeared as Li won six games on the bounce to end the Czech's dream of a first Roland Garros quarter-final appearance.
"I was a little bit nervous," admitted the 21-year-old Kvitova. "I didn't take the chances that I had. After that I was a little bit down mentally."
World number seven Li was broken in the third game of the opening set when she sent a backhand beyond the baseline and Kvitova then saw off four break points on her own serve to open up a 4-2 advantage.
The Chinese player's erratic groundstrokes prevented her from capitalising on the succession of break point opportunities she procured, and when she double-faulted to gift Kvitova a 5-2 lead, the first set was all but over.
Kvitova continued to frustrate Li in the second set but the Chinese number one finally made a breakthrough by converting her ninth break point of the match with an overhead smash that put her 3-1 ahead.
Li broke again before closing out the set but fell 3-0 down in the decider before fighting back to level.
The world number seven then broke to go 4-3 up when Kvitova was unable to return a plunging crosscourt forehand and closed out victory on her second match point when Kvitova dragged a tired backhand into the tramlines.
Sharapova has won the other three major tournaments once apiece, but is still looking for her first title at Roland Garros.
Against Radwanska, the 2006 French Open junior champion, Sharapova fell behind 4-1 in the first set and 5-3 in the second before turning things around. Sharapova saved five set points in the second.
The Russian was the more aggressive player and finished with far more winners.
"From the beginning, I had quite a slow start today," said Sharapova.
"I think the one thing that saved me in the first set was the fact that I served really well and kept her off balance.
"It gave me confidence and gave me a chance to be up in the second set.
"She had so many chances. It was really tough but I played smart when I had to be smart and I was patient."