The surprise pairing of Francesca Schiavone and Sam Stosur will compete for the 2010 French Open clay tennis title in just a few hours in Paris, France.
Stosur has been one of the top clay court players in 2010 winning 20 of 22 matches on the dirt, and she proved her worth navigating through a brutal path that matched her against three former World No. 1s – Justine Henin, Serena Williams and Jelena Jankovic.
“I think it’s going to be a great for both of us no matter who wins,” said Stosur who reached the French Open semifinals last year. “I want to enjoy it as much as I can. Hopefully we can have a good match and just make the most of it. Yeah, it’s gonna be a day we’re both gonna remember.
“I’ve got to go out there and try and play it like any other match, and go out there and play my game and try and block all those other things out,” she added. “Yeah, it’s been really fantastic up until this time, so hopefully I can make it a little bit better.”
The veteran Schiavone’s road was been slightly easier. The 29-year-old hasn’t dropped a set beating Li Na, Maria Kirilenko, Carolina Wozniacki and then gaining the final when Elena Dementieva retired after dropping the first set.
“For sure I will be nervous with tension,” Schiavone said Friday. “I think is one of the best feeling that I can personally feeling. So is good is coming my mental trainer, so maybe he can help me a little bit. Is good chance. I want to just live and enjoy my moment, my life.”
The match is also the first time since 2004 Roland Garros (Myskina d. Dementieva) that both players will make their debut at a Grand Slam final, and it’s the fourth straight Slam without a Russian in the title match.
Stosur leads Schiavone 4-1 in their five prior meetings including having won the last four all in straight sets. The two finalists actually met a year ago in the first round, and now they meet on the World’s stage for their first Grand Slam title.
“For sure I have to study how to play against her, but I can say that the most important thing is to give the best that I have, and to try to stay always aggressive when I can,” Schiavone said. “She’s very strong, great power. She improve so mentally, physically a lot. I think will be very tough and very close match, and will be a lot of tactics in the court. I think like this.”
The winner of the match will also rank No. 6, the runner-up No. 7 in the Monday WTA rankings.
More tidbits on the title match courtesy of the WTA Tour:
In their most recent head-to-head meeting, Stosur defeated Schiavone in the final at 2009 Osaka on October 18, 2009; entering that final, the 2 combined for a 1-14 record in Tour finals (Stosur 0-5, Schiavone 1-9); this is the 4th final since October 2009 for both Stosur (won 2009 Osaka, 2010 Charleston; runner-up 2010 Stuttgart) and Schiavone (won at 2009 Moscow, 2009 Barcelona; runner-up 2009 Osaka).
Among first-time Grand Slam singles titles winners, Schiavone would be the second oldest (and oldest to win their first GS title since 1969 Wimbledon), while Stosur would be the 6th oldest player to win their first Grand Slam title: Ann Jones (GBR) 30 years, 8 months, 28 days 1969 Wimbledon, Francesca Schiavone (ITA) 29 years, 11 months, 14 days ?? ??
Schiavone is making her Grand Slam final debut at Roland Garros, the first Italian woman to reach a Grand Slam final; the previous best result at RG by an Italian was at 1954 Roland Garros (Silvia Lazzarino, SF, l. to Maureen Connolly).
Schiavone is the first Italian player (men/women) in a Grand Slam final since Adriano Panatta won 1976 Roland Garros men’s title.
As a result of her success at this event, Schiavone will leap into the Top 10 (from No.17) when the rankings are released on Monday, June 7th; Schiavone is projected to rank No.6 (if she wins) or No.7 (as runner-up), with fellow Italian Pennetta projected at No.10
Schiavone is making her 10th appearance at RG; she made her RG debut in 2001, advancing to QF.
Schiavone has now reached 4r or better at 4 straight Slams.
Schiavone is 9-40 vs. Top 5 ranked opponents in her career; she is now 2-2 vs. Top 5 this year after defeating No.5 Dementieva in SF (via ret.) and also defeating No.3 Wozniacki in QF, her first Top 5 win in a completed match since 2008 Dubai (No.1 Henin).
Schiavone is 23-65 in her career vs. Top 10 ranked opponents, including 3-3 this year with 2 wins at RG (both vs. Top 5 opponents).
Schiavone won her 3rd career title at Barcelona in April (2nd career title on clay, along with 2007 Bad Gastein).
Currently ranked No.17, Schiavone is bidding to become the fourth player ranked outside the Top 10 to win the singles title at Roland Garros.
Stosur defeated 3 former No.1 ranked players en route to the final, including the current world No.1 Serena Williams (QF); she also defeated Justine Henin (4r) and Jelena Jankovic (SF).
The only other player to defeat both Henin and S.Williams at a GS was Lindsay Davenport at 2000 US Open; Davenport finished as runner-up (l. V.Williams).
With her 4r win against Henin, Stosur became only the 5th player to defeat Henin at Roland Garros (Davenport, Clijsters, Garbin, Kapros), ending the 4-time champion’s run of 24-straight wins here.
After starting her career 39-37 on clay (all levels), Stosur is 28-8 on clay since 2008.
Stosur has a Tour-leading 20-2 main draw record on the surface this year (through SF at 2010 RG), including her 2nd career Tour title at Charleston and runner-up at Stuttgart; she also has the most main draw wins on Tour this year on all surfaces (32).
Stosur, along with Wickmayer, owns the 2nd longest match win streak this year (11), behind only Venus Williams (15).
Stosur moved up to a career-best No.7 on May 17, 2010, the highest ranking for an Australian-born player since February 1985 (Wendy Turnbull); she is projected to climb as high as No.6 (unless Schiavone wins the title, then No.7).
Prior to last year’s SF run, Stosur’s previous best RG result was reaching 3r (2007).
Stosur hit a personal season-best 14 aces in her 2r win against de los Rios.
The last Aussie to reach the final at RG was Wendy Turnbull (1979, l. to Evert); the last Aussie to win a title at RG was Margaret Court (1973).
The last Aussie GS finalist was Wendy Turnbull (1980 Australian Open [Dec]) and the last Australian GS champion was Evonne Goolagong Cawley (1980 Wimbledon).
Stosur is 2-2 vs. Top 5 ranked opponents this year with both wins here at RG: d. No.1 S.Williams (QF) and No.4 Jankovic (SF); she is 6-19 vs. Top 5 ranked opponents in her career.
Stosur became the first Australian to defeat a world No.1 at a Grand Slam since Dokic at 1999 Wimbledon (Hingis).
Serena Williams is projected to retain the No.1 ranking after Roland Garros (week of June 7, 2010) bringing her career total to 106 weeks at No.1. Serena regained the No.1 spot on November 2, 2009 and during Roland Garros is spending her 104th and 105th weeks there.
The Top 5 rank will remain unchanged – No.1 Serena Williams No.2 Venus Williams, No.3 Caroline Wozniacki and No.4 Jelena Jankovic and No.5 Elena Dementieva.
The winner of today’s final will be No.6 with the runner-up at No.7.
Schiavone is projected to make her Top 10 debut and move ahead of Flavia Pennetta to become Italy’s No.1 player; by reaching the final, Schiavone is projected to climb to No.7; she could climb to No.6 by winning the title.
Schiavone will be making her Top 10 debut at the age of 29 years, 11 months and 15 days (on June 7th), the oldest player to make her Top 10 debut since 1998 when Nathalie Tauziat made her Top 10 debut at 30 years, 2 months, 26 days.
Schiavone will be the 101st player to break into the Top 10 rankings since the inception of the computer rankings (November 3, 1975); Li Na (99th) and Stosur (100th) also made Top 10 debut this year
Kim Clijsters is projected to move up one spot to No.9 (from No.10) and Justine Henin is projected to rise to No.18 (from No.23), that would represent the highest ranking since the return of each respective player.
Shahar Peer climbs to a career-best No.14, the highest ranking ever held by an Israeli woman tennis player (Smashnova in 2003 and Peer in 2007 both each reached No.15).
With Dinara Safina falling in 1r and Svetlana Kuznetsova losing in 3r, both players will fall out of the Top 10. Safina is projected to drop to No.20 and Kuznetsova to No.19.
Kuznetsova has been ranked in the Top 10 since the week of April 3, 2006, the longest active run of any player currently ranked in the Top 10; that streak will end after Roland Garros. As a result, Jelena Jankovic will become the player that has been ranked inside for the most consecutive weeks; the Serb moved into the Top 10 the week of February 19, 2007.
Entering RG, there were 3 Russian players in the Top 10 (Safina, Kuznetsova, Dementieva). There have been as many as 6 Russians ranked in the Top 10 as the week of August 25, 2008. With Safina’s 1r loss and Kuznetsova’s 3r loss, the number of Russians in the Top 10 is projected to drop to 1 for the first time since August 25, 2003 (Myskina at No.10).
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