Beijing: Li Na says she is hoping for a "perfect ending" at the French Open, where she will vie to become China's first Grand Slam singles champion - with the backing of a proud nation.
"In the final again. It was very tiring but it's worth it as I worked really hard," Li posted on her microblog account on Sina.com shortly after defeating Russia's Maria Sharapova in straight sets in Thursday's semi-final match.
"I hope there will be a perfect ending. Come on!"
Her post has already earned more than 14,000 comments from fans and supporters keen to see her take on defending French Open champion Francesca Schiavone on the red clay at Roland Garros on Saturday.
"Li Na, you are great. You make Chinese people proud. Because of you, I have fallen in love with tennis now," wrote one Sina Weibo user identified as Zhang Zhou 2010.
"Come on, our sister! You are another role model after Yao Ming and Liu Xiang for the Chinese, and for Asians. Let’s take it further," said a user named "Shenhua football fan", referring to China's NBA and hurdling superstars.
Li will be making her second consecutive Grand Slam final appearance, after losing to Kim Clijsters in Melbourne in January.
China Central Television (CCTV) on Friday repeatedly re-ran footage of Li's win over three-time Slam winner Sharapova - a contest that was broadcast live to the country's legions of sports fans.
The network also aired a retrospective about the 29-year-old's career, showed her in the gym explaining her fitness regimen, and even rebroadcast a clip of Li joking at the Australian Open about her husband's snoring.
"Li savors a Grand chance," trumpeted the China Daily on its front page Friday under a huge photo of the Wuhan native, clenching her fist in celebration after the error-prone Sharapova double-faulted on match point.
The English-language Global Times hailed Li's "Chinese fighting spirit" and credited her "never-say-die" attitude as a major factor in her success.
"The girl from Hubei has become a leader of Asian tennis players," gushed the official news agency Xinhua.
If Li wins, she is projected to earn a career-high ranking of number four, tying her with Japan's Kimiko Date Krumm as the highest-ranked Asian. If she loses, she will take the number five spot, according to the WTA.
"Li Na has inspired the whole nation's patriotism, and all eyes are on the yellow ball," Sina.com's sports section wrote.