Li makes tennis history at Wimbledon

Updated: 2006-07-04 06:46
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LONDON - China and Russia rubbed salt into the United States' Wimbledon wounds by underlining their status as the emerging superpowers in women's tennis.

Li makes tennis history at Wimbledon
Li Na celebrates winning her match against the Czech Republic's Nicole Vaidisova at the Wimbledon tennis championships in London July 3, 2006. [Reuters]
Li Na became the first Chinese player to reach the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam while Russia saw three women make up the last eight with wins for Maria Sharapova, Elena Dementieva and Anastasia Myskina.

America's last representative in either the women's or men's singles was sent packing when unheralded Shenay Perry lost in straight sets to Dementieva.

Li, the Chinese number one and 27th seed, came from behind to beat the Czech Republic's Nicole Vaidisova 4-6, 6-1, 6-3 and will now face second seed Kim Clijsters of Belgium for a place in the last four.

The 24-year-old from Wuhan showed that her third round defeat of former US Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova was no fluke and illustrated why she has leapt 40 places in the rankings to a career high 30.

"I'm proud for myself and for my country," said Li.

"Now I hope to go further and show that women's tennis in China is getting better and better."

Li's achievements won praise from French Open champion Justine Henin-Hardenne.

"Beating Kuznetsova and Vaidisova shows what a good player she is," said the Belgian.

"There are a lot of players coming from China and I'm sure we will see more of them, especially on grass because they are great fighters."

Maria Sharapova struggled with the searing heat as well as the stubborn resistance of Italy's Flavia Pennetta to reach the quarter-finals.

The 2004 champion toiled for almost two and a half hours to overcome the 16th seed 7-6 (7/5), 3-6, 6-3 and now faces Dementieva.

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