photo credit: Carl Blake
The 2010 Roland Garros women’s singles semi finals were both played on Friday. Both matches where over quickly setting up an intense final where one player will emerge as a Grand Slam Singles Champion for the 1st time. An Australian woman has not won such a title since Evonne Goolagong won Wimbledon in 1980 and an Italian woman has never won in the Open era of tennis.
Today the Women’s Singles Final will be played on the main stadium court, which is called Court Philippe Chartrier and will begin at 3pm local time in Paris, France. The two players who have a line drawn through their name are the seeded players who were expected to win through to the final. The players name that is bolded is OCA’s prediction of who will win the championship.
The women’s singles final draw is:
- (1) S.Williams (7) Samantha Stosur versus (17) Francesca Schiavone (2) V.Williams
In the 1st semi final 29 year old Italian Francesca Schiavone played No.5 seed Elena Dementieva who was trying to make her 3rd Grand Slam singles final. The 1.66m Schiavone won the 1st set by 7 points to 3 in the tie break in a very physical encounter in which she committed only half as many unforced errors as her opponent 12 to 24.
At the change of ends Dementieva retired because she knew that she could not continue the heavy running, changes of direction and lengthy rallies for another 2 sets. Dementieva aggravated her left calf injury that she 1st sustained in the 2nd round. Schiavone is pronounced SKI-ah-VOH-neh and is pictured above after making contact with the ball during her service action.
Schiavone has defeated 4 seeded players on her way into the final. In the 3rd round she beat No.11 seed Li Na (who made the 2010 Australian Open semi finals), 6-4 6-2. In the round of 16 she defeated No.30 seed Maria Kirilenko (who knocked out defending champion Svetlana Kuznetsova), 6-4 6-4. In the quarter finals she easily accounted for No.3 seed Caroline Wozniacki (who was runner-up at the 2009 US Open), 6-2 6-3.
Schiavone will move into the Top 10 for the 1st time after the final and is the 1st Italian to make a Grand Slam final in the Open era, which began at Roland Garros in 1968. Schiavone is playing inspired tennis, displaying great focus and acting in a very positive manner on court. Schiavone has the mental edge and greater strategical acumen of the 2 players in the final.
Schiavone possesses a wide variety of plays and numerous avenues that she has to win points in both attack and defense. This will have to make up for what she lacks in power. Schiavone will need to do her utmost to turn this match into a mental game and keep close enough on the score board to give Stosur the challenge of overcoming the pressure of being expected to win the title.
Schiavone will need to do what no other player has done at Roland Garros, work out how to neutralise and consistently return the high bouncing kick serve that Stosur repeatedly directs to the backhand of her opponents. Stosur has won a huge amount of free points with this serve. Serena Williams had great difficulties in returning many of these serves back into play.
At 1.66m Schiavone has two main clear options, either she needs to move in and intercept the ball BEFORE it rises above her shoulder level to make contact with the ball OR take the Rafael Nadal approach. Nadal drops back deep enough in the court to let the ball drop back down into his hitting range THEN he hits a deep return with a lot of height over the net to neutralise the serve and begin the rally.
After her semi final win Schiavone said, “Yeah, I played good because I was focus, and I said I have to play with spin as much as I can. So at the end was a good key. And also to play aggressive when I had the chance.” About playing Stosur in the final, Schiavone said, “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. Of course is the key for every top player’s level.”
The 26 year old Stosur goes into this match as the favourite and holds a 4-1 advantage in their previous matches. The 1.72m Australian has won the last 4 matches in a row and all in straight sets, including in the 1st round at last year at Roland Garros. How things can change in 1 year, from playing in the 1st round to playing off for the championship in the Women’s Singles Final.
Stosur deserves to win the title after defeating World No.1 Serena Williams, 4 time Roland Garros champion Justine Henin and No.4 seed Jelena Jankovic in the semi finals. However, it always only about who can perform on the day and overcome the mental challenges and pressure of the situation. Stosur has the right attitude, she said in her interview after winning through to the final, “Yeah, I know it’s a final and everything else, and I’ve had some great matches up to this point. But none of those win me the match tomorrow. 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.”
Stosur’s main challenge will be to control her mind and overcome the pressure and expectations. Physically, Stosur is a better athlete than any other woman in tennis, she is more powerful and faster to move around her backhand to hit her favourite forehand ground stroke than anyone else. She has a huge 1st serve and a big kick serve that many players have a lot of trouble dealing with. The Coupe de Suzanne Lenglen (the women’s trophy), is on display and well within the players line of view when they play to see who can achieve their career goal of winning a Grand Slam singles title.
If Stosur can consume herself with the same mind set that she had for her impressive semi final victory, then she will win. Stosur knows though that it is hard to keep that mind set, she said about her 6-1 6-2 win over Jankovic, “So today I just tried to do exactly that: make it about the tennis and playing the points. I think if I can do that, then it becomes a bit easier out there and you don’t get wound up in any situation. But it’s not easy to do that all the time, and you can go in and out of it. But today it was just next point, give me the balls, and we’ll go again. So, I mean, that’s the goal every time, but it doesn’t always happen.”
It is amazing that a player with such a distinct physical advantage over her opponents has taken so long to move up amongst the games top ranked players. The fact that Stosur has lost in the 1st or 2nd round in 20 of the 28 Grand Slam singles tournaments that she has played thus far indicates a huge failure by her coaching, especially in terms of her mental training and strategical development.
Stosur loves the power she traded with Serena and Justine, Schiavone will be well served to take the pace out of her shots and add a lot of spin and height to her shots in order to increase the degree of difficulty for Stosur to time the ball well enough and tempt her to force the ball. Under pressure and with all the extra time of the ball sitting there can be a recipe for unforced errors. Can Stosur continue her ride?
Stay tuned to this tennis website for further information about the 2010 Roland Garros Championships for both the men’s and women’s events. Click this link for more details -> Roland Garros: French Open 2010 May 18 – June 6.
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