Paris - Defending champion Li Na was made to work hard to see off 20-year-old American Christina McHale 3-6 6-2 6-1 to book her place in the last 16 of the French Open on Saturday.
Chinese seventh seed Li, who last year became the first player from an Asian nation to win a singles grand-slam title, needed almost two hours on a sunsoaked Court Suzanne Lenglen to break the world number 36's resilience.
Li struggled with her serve and fell a break down in sixth game but immediately broke back. But McHale had more pace and broke again to bag the opening set after 48 minutes.
Li upped her game in the second, finding better angles to open a 4-1 lead and steal her the opponent's serve again to level the tie.
She reeled off five games in a row in the decider to wrap it up and set up a last-16 meeting with Kazakh qualifier Yaroslava Schvedova. – Reuters