Francesca Schiavone success encourages Elena Baltacha

Elena Baltacha
Baltacha reached the second round of the French Open for the first time last month

British number one Elena Baltacha believes she can follow the example of French Open finalist Francesca Schiavone and peak late in her career.

Italian Schiavone, 30, is set to defend her French Open title on Saturday, 12 months after winning her first Grand Slam at Roland Garros.

"The most exciting thing about Schiavone is that she's 30," Ipswich-based Baltacha told BBC Radio Suffolk.

"To see what she's achieved later in her career really inspires me."

Baltacha, 27, enjoyed the best year of her career in 2010, breaking into the world top 50 for the first time and beating Schiavone - who faces Li Na in Saturday's final - in the Istanbul Cup.

Now 83rd in the world, Baltacha heads into the grass court season after reaching the second round of the French Open, her best ever performance on the Parisian clay, where she was .

"I might never win a Grand Slam, but I do feel my game is really improving, I'm maturing and I understand more about myself as a player and where I need to go," she said.

"It really does excite me looking at players like Schiavone."

The Scot will prepare for Wimbledon by defending her Aegon Trophy title when the tournament begins in Nottingham on Monday, followed by an appearance at the Eastbourne international the week after.