In a surprising climax to a women’s event that saw last year’s finalist dumped out in the first round and some of the biggest stars of the game lose their way early, it was the cagey veteran Francesca Schiavone, who most casual tennis fans had probably never heard of, who used her spin and guile to her advantage in taking down the giant slayer Sam Stosur in the finals of the French Open 6-4, 7-6(2) making her the first Italian to win a Grand Slam in the Open era and one of the oldest winners ever at just shy of 30 years of age.
For Schiavone, it’s a dream come true and perhaps a fitting end to a long ride on the WTA tour. For Stosur, despite having a dream tournament herself, it could be a turning point in her own career, either for the best or the worst.
Early on in the first set, it looked like Stosur would completely outhit Schiavone as the Australian held in her opening two service games to love. Continue reading
Filed under French Open, WTA
When a tennis match is a tight contest between two players, it almost always comes down to who wants it more rather than a winning shot. In today’s quarterfinal matchup between Serena Williams and Sam Stosur, one could say it was an amazing dipping backhand passing shot that Stosur hit at 6-6, 15-40 in the third set to give her the service break she needed to finally win 6-2, 6-7, 8-6. But really what gave Stosur the victory was her willingness to stare down Williams so to speak from the first point. Meanwhile, for Novak Djokovic who was even more in control of his encounter with Jurgen Melzer, Djokovic inexplicably lost the thread after being up two sets and a break to lose a match that could haunt the Serb for some time. Continue reading
I was all set to write a preview of the potential Serena Williams/Justine Henin rematch and talk about all the variables that go into that rivalry, but a very quiet and calm Australian had different ideas today. When Sam Stosur took the court against Henin in their fourth round encounter, the partisan French crowd rooted for the Belgian as if she were a native. But it wasn’t enough to help Henin deal with the work Stosur put on the ball as well as her composure that allowed the Australian to hand Henin her first defeat in six years on the red clay of Paris in a 2-6, 6-1, 6-4 win that is probably the biggest of Stosur’s career. Continue reading
Filed under French Open, WTA
Although the scorelines were a bit similar, the impressive play by Rafael Nadal and Sam Stosur in winning each of their respective finals today was very much the same as both issued “Serena-like” beatdowns of their opponents. Although the clay court season is still young, both players sent a message that they could be the ones to beat at Roland Garros in May.
As expected all week, Nadal easily won his sixth consecutive Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters title as he defeated fellow countryman Fernando Verdasco 6-0, 6-1 in just under 90 minutes. Continue reading
The New Year is not but two days old but the pros are already gearing up for the Australian Open by taking part in the warm-up events with the first one, the Brisbane International, already underway.
Unlike the clay court or hard court seasons, the “Aussie” season is a two week whirlwind of several events, some playing concurrently, and even on different continents with some of the top men, including Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, choosing to get ready at the Doha event in Qatar.
All eyes will be on Justine Henin this week at Brisbane as she makes her return to the tour with an opening match against No. 20 Nadia Petrova. Even if Henin gets some big wins here and at Sydney, featuring nine of the top ten women, I still think her draw at the Open will be the deciding factor if she’s got a shot to win it all.
With the brevity of the AO series it would be hard to look for trends or players on winning streaks to gauge what might happen in Melbourne later this month. Still, I would look out for Lleyton Hewitt, Sam Stosur, Jelena Dokic and rising star Bernard Tomic as they all will want to make strong showings now if they have any hopes of winning their country’s Grand Slam.
Check out the Brisbane International Site here.