French Open: Marion Bartoli relishes first semi-final

Frenchwoman Marion Bartoli
Bartoli is bidding to become the first French woman to reach a French Open final since Mary Pierce in 2005

France's Marion Bartoli is confident she can cope with the weight of a nation when she takes on defending champion Francesca Schiavone in their French Open semi-final on Thursday.

Bartoli, 26, beat Russia's Svetlana Kuznetsova 7-6 (7-4) 6-4 to reach the last four at Roland Garros.

Russia's Maria Sharapova will face China's Li Na in the other semi-final.

If Bartoli wins, she will become the first French woman since Mary Pierce in 2005 to reach a French Open final.

It has taken 11 attempts for Bartoli to reach this stage of the tournament and the 11th seed is determined not to waste the chance in front of the Paris faithful.

"The past years I really felt the pressure here," said Bartoli, the 2007 Wimbledon runner-up. "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.

"The pressure was on me and I was thinking it's going to be awful. I'm going to lose quickly and people are going to say things about me."

The duo have played each other five times before, with fifth seed Schiavone holding a 4-1 advantage. But based on her current form, Bartoli is undeterred.

"She won last year so of course it's going to be extremely difficult," she added. "I'm not expecting myself to beat her easily, that's for sure.

"But I really do believe if I have the same attitude and if I'm playing the same way, I will still have a chance. It doesn't mean I'm going to win for sure, but I think I will have a chance to do something."

In the other semi-final, Sharapova is bidding to reach her first French Open final when she faces China's first Roland Garros semi-finalist Li.

The Russian brushed aside Andrea Petkovic 6-0 6-3 in the last eight and is now looking to complete a career Grand Slam, having won the other three major tournaments.

Li, meanwhile, overcame fourth seed Victoria Azarenka 7-5 6-2 in her quarter-final to leave her one step away from a second successive Grand Slam final having finished as runner-up in this year's Australian Open.

Li and Sharapova open play in the main stadium, Court Philippe Chatrier, at 1300 BST with Schiavone and Bartoli to follow.

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