Paris: Sixth seed Li Na beats Czech ninth seed Petra Kvitova 2-6, 6-1, 6-3 to became the first Chinese player to reach the French Open quarter-finals on Monday. (Agencies)
Li Na, who became the first Chinese player to reach a Grand Slam final at the Australian Open earlier this year, will play either fourth seed Victoria Azarenka of Belarus or Russia's Ekaterina Makarova for a place in the last four.
Li made 19 unforced errors to her opponent's 33 in the match on Court Philippe Chatrier but said her lack of clay court pedigree should not prevent her from aiming high.
"If I win in the fourth round, what should I say?" asked Li, who has now reached the last eight at all four Grand Slams.
"(That) I played bad tennis? I don't think so. I've tried to keep the same level as Melbourne, or even better.
"I didn't like clay courts, but I'm still in the quarter-finals."
She added: "For a professional player, if you don't like the arena, the weather, the surface, you still have to play the match.
"You have no choice. You have to challenge yourself to play."
Kvitova looked poised to win the match at 3-0 up in the deciding set but her momentum disappeared as Li won six games on the bounce to end the Czech's dream of a first Roland Garros quarter-final appearance.
"I was a little bit nervous," admitted Kvitova.
"I didn't take the chances that I had. After that I was a little bit down mentally."
Li was broken in the third game of the opening set when she sent a backhand beyond the baseline and Kvitova then saw off four break points on her own serve to open up a 4-2
The Chinese player's erratic ground strokes prevented her from capitalising on the succession of break point opportunities she procured, and when she double-faulted to
gift Kvitova a 5-2 lead, the first set was all but over.
Kvitova continued to frustrate Li in the second set but the Chinese number one finally made a breakthrough by converting her ninth break point of the match with an overhead smash that put her 3-1 ahead.
Li broke again before closing out the set but fell 3-0 down in the decider before fighting back to level.
The 29-year-old world number seven then broke to go 4-3 up when Kvitova was unable to return a plunging crosscourt forehand and closed out victory on her second match point when Kvitova dragged a tired backhand into the tramlines.
Paris: Sixth seed Li Na beats Czech ninth seed Petra Kvitova 2-6, 6-1, 6-3 to became the first Chinese player to reach the French Open quarter-finals on Monday.