Irrepressible Na Li has the hustle to triumph in French Open

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Serena Williams has been in formidable form throughout the current campaign, winning 36 of her 38 matches, including all 16 on clay, but her record at Roland Garros suggests it may be worth opposing the 11/8 French Open favourite. At 10/1 Na Li, herself a French Open winner in 2011, may be worth backing to profit if Serena fail to fire in Paris once again.

Despite her intimidating record this year Williams is far from banker material to triumph at Roland Garros, where she has failed to advance beyond the quarter finals since 2004. The averageness – by Serena’s own sky-high standards – of her performances in France in relation to the other Opens is highlighted by the fact that she has won the other Grand Slam titles at least twice each since 2008.

Clay remains by some way the weakest discipline for the world number one, who has lost just over a quarter of all her career matches on dirt, the hardest of all the surfaces on which to hit clear winners.

Li is known as one of the women’s games more never-say-die returners, with her hunger for chasing down her opponents’ returns illustrated by her courageous performance in the Australian Open final, when she put her body through the mill in going down to Victoria Azarenka.

The Chinese world number six started the campaign in fine form on hard court, with her only losses coming to subsequent tournament winners as she reached three finals, a semi-final and a quarter final.

She began the clay season in good nick too, losing in the final of the Porsche Grand Prix title to Maria Sharapova and although she has shot herself in the foot with unforced errors in two subsequent early exits from tournaments in Madrid and Rome, she retains the ability to mix it with her highest rated rivals when everything clicks.

The 10/1 shot’s ability to beat any player in the world on her day is vouched for by her competitive head-to-head histories against Maria Sharapova and Azarenka, whilst Li has never failed to give Williams a tough match. There have been tie break sets in five of the pair’s seven clashes, whilst her sole victory against the American came in a three setter back in 2009.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publication

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