Li Na and Sverine Brmond are the unexpected interlopers in the women's singles quarter-finals here today after making history for China and seeing off a favourite from Japan respectively.
Li, 24, reached the last eight - the first Chinese player ever to do so in Grand Slamsingles-byupsetting the Czech 17-year-old Nicole Vaidisova, 4-6,6-1,6-3. Brmond, a 26-year-old qualifier from France, reached her first Slam singles quarter-final with a surprise 7-6, 6- 3 win over Ai Sugiyama, the No 18 seed.
Li now faces Kim Clijsters, who made swift work of the Polish 17- year-old wild card Agnieszka Radwanska, 6-2, 6-2, in 49 minutes. Brmond's next plays Justine Henin-Hardenne, who beat Daniela Hantuchova.
Li beat the French Open runner-up Svetlana Kuznetsova in the third round and she recovered strongly after Vaidisova, who reached the last four at Roland Garros, took the first set.
Before yesterday's result, the best singles showing by a Chinese player was Zheng Jie's run to the French Open fourth round in 2004.
"I'm proud of myself and I'm very proud for my country." She added that it is too early to talk of a Chinese player winning a Slam singles. "I don't know when that will happen, but I think it takes time, gradually, step by step."
Tennis was not her first sport but badminton was. She said that she would probably be more famous now if she had not swapped. "Probably I would be a champion, a world champion, if I played badminton."
Asked if she had ever dreamt of winning here, she replied: "I've had this kind of dream, but I have to drop it because the more you expect, probably in return you have more disappointment." At least nobody can accuse her of being overoptimistic. …