Li thrives out of husband's sight to secure place in quarter-finals

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The Independent Online

At this rate Jiang Shan, the husband of Li Na, will be developing a complex. Having been dropped as coach to the world No 7 only last month, he left Court Philippe Chatrier yesterday with his wife trailing 3-0 in the third set to Petra Kvitova. Barely half an hour later Li had won 2-6, 6-1, 6-3 to reach the French Open quarter-finals for the first time.

Li started working with a new coach, the Dane Michael Mortensen, after losing four matches in a row in the wake of her run to the Australian Open final. She went on to reach the semi-finals in Rome and Madrid, where she lost to Kvitova, the eventual champion, and has now made the last eight here.

"After Melbourne I didn't do well, so I needed to change the team a little bit," Li said. "That's why I asked for Michael. I asked him to help me. Now my husband is my hitting partner."

Kvitova broke twice in the opening set, but Li won five games in a row in the second to level the match. When Kvitova won the first three games of the decider it seemed that the Czech had taken a hold on the match. "I didn't believe I could come back, because she has a huge serve," Li said.

No sooner had her husband left the court, however, than Li started to play her way back into the match. "I don't know what happened," she said, before adding with a smile: "Maybe it's just because my husband left that I was able to win six games in a row."

Li now meets the new favourite, Victoria Azarenka, who is the highest-ranked player left in the competition. The world No 4 beat Ekaterina Makarova 6-2, 6-3 to reach her fourth Grand Slam quarter-final.

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