May 27, 2009 / 8:40 PM / 10 years ago

Only Li still flying Asian flag in Paris

Li Na of China returns the ball to Timea Bacsinszky of Switzerland at the French Open tennis tournament at Roland Garros in Paris May 27, 2009. REUTERS/Vincent Kessler

PARIS (Reuters) - China’s Li Na was the only Asian representative left in the either singles draw after the fourth day of the French Open on Wednesday.

The 25th seed was one of seven Asian players in the women’s main draw but the only one to make it through to the third round after beating Swiss Timea Bacsinsky 6-1 6-4.

Compatriot and 15th seed Zheng Jie fell 6-4 6-3 to grand slam debutante Michelle Larcher de Brito of Portugal in the second round, while Peng Shuai did not even make it that far.

Japan’s Ai Sugiyama, who extended her record for consecutive appearances in grand slam main draws to 60, and her compatriot Ayumi Morita both suffered first-round exits along with India’s Sania Mirza.

Holder Ana Ivanovic of Serbia extinguished Tamarine Tanasugarn’s hopes with a clinical 6-1 6-2 thrashing of the Thai in their second-round match on Wednesday.

The Asian men’s challenge limped to a end when Taiwan’s Lu Yen-hsun retired after the first set of his opening-round encounter with Frenchman Mathieu Montcourt on Sunday.

Clay is not generally a happy hunting ground for Asians brought up on faster courts like hard and grass. Last year Zheng became the first Chinese player to reach a grand slam semi-final at Wimbledon.

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