Sunday, June 6, 2010

Schiavone Takes French with 2 Set Win Over Stosur; Becomes First Female Italian GS Winner

Maybe your favorite players are the usual champions like Federer, Rafa or Serena, but on Saturday i realized that their is a unique satisfaction in seeing someone new take the crown, especially when they're as genuinely happy as Francesca Schiavone was after her masterful all-court display in the Roland Garros final against Sam Stosur. The Italian became the first women from her country to win a Major title, and she did it in beautiful fashion, out-serving her Aussie opponent, who had an incredible run, too, beating Serena, Henin and Jankovic en route to the championship match. The 17th seed's family and friends all donned shirts that read "Schiavo, Nothing is Impossible" and the 29 year-old proved it, having never reached a GS semi before her enchanting run that included wins over Li Na, Caroline Wozniacki and Elena Dementieva.

Both women held serve until 4-4 in the first, where Schiavone made her move and began attacking the difficult Stosur kick-serve. Stosur, who looked flat and nervous throughout the encounter, dropped the set 6-4 but jumped out to an early 4-1 lead in the second, before, again, nerves got to her. Schiavone's high topspin rattled the 7th seed, but it was her net game that proved a major difference, as she hit 7 volley winners to Stosur's 2. It was clear that both women being avid doubles players helped their singles immensely throughout the fortnight. The 2nd set breaker was where the most brilliant tennis was played though, as the adrenaline rushed through Schiavo's body, helping her take the set 7-2 and the match, ecstatically falling to the ground afterwards.

The Italian's display proved that the single most important thing in earning a Major title is self-belief, and it was Stosur who lacked it at times, while Schiavone had plenty. "Everybody has the chance to be who you really want to be, and do everything in your life,” said Schiavone, expected to be ranked 6th in next week's WTA rankings. “This is what has happened to me.”

When asked about match point, where the first-time champion hit a high backhand in the corner, forcing Stosur into an error, she said, "I was feeling much more energy, more and more and more. I couldn’t stop it. I really felt that was my moment, and I took it. I didn’t lose the chance."

On Saturday, it really was her moment. A moment of a lifetime.

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