The 2012 Roland Garros women’s singles final was played on Saturday 9 June at 3pm on Court Philippe Chartrier in Paris, France between No.21 seed Sara Errani and No.2 seed Maria Sharapova. A 13th different women’s singles champion in the past 16 years was guaranteed with both players setting personal bests by winning through to their first final at Roland Garros and their first match against each other.
The 1.66m Errani certainly earned her chance to play for the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen (Suzanne Lenglen Cup), 2,000 WTA ranking points and the winner’s prize money € 1,250,000 (Euros). The right-handed Errani defeated no less than three Grand Slam singles champions to cut a swathe through the women’s singles draw and stand between Sharapova and her bid for a career Grand Slam.
In the 3rd round Errani provided an insight into her admirable and intense fighting spirit by defeating the in-form No.13 seed Ana Ivanovic who won the 2008 Roland Garros singles title, despite losing the 1st set 6-1.
In the round of 16 dual Grand Slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova came into the match against Errani holding a perfect 5-0 head-to-head record in their previous matches on fire after making quick work of one of the best players on tour for the past 9 months, World No.3 Agnieszka Radwanska. Kuznetsova won the 2009 Roland Garros singles title but was unable to match Errani’s intensity and positivity in being upset 6-0 7-5.
In the semi finals 2011 US Open singles champion and 2010 Roland Garros runner-up Samantha Stosur became Errani’s second victory over a Top 10 player in her career after losing all 28 matches against Top 10 players in her career. The No.6 seeded Stosur was the huge favourite to end Errani’s run and heading in with a perfect 5-0 head-to-head record in their previous matches. Errani handed Stosur a very difficult defeat 7-5 1-6 6-3 and a sense of de ja vu as Stosur went into the 2010 Roland Garros the overwhelming favourite against another 1.66m Italian Francesca Schiavone.
Stosur had beaten Schiavone four times inka row and in straight sets including at Roland Garros the year before. The 17th seeded Schiavone became the first Italian to win a Grand Slam singles title in the Open-era, which began at Roland Garros in 1968. Errani’s excellent tournament and three clay court singles titles leading into the French Open earned her the honour of being the No.1 ranked Italian for the first time come Monday.
Before 2012 Errani had never made it past the 3rd round in a Grand Slam singles event. The Italian’s story fuels the imagination, desire and further bolsters the belief that anything is possible and that you can ALWAYS improve.
The final proved to be Maria Sharapova’s day due to the fact that she set such a high level of tennis throughout the 89-minute match. Despite the fact that Errani only committed four unforced errors for the entire first set Sharapova produced 17 winners to just four by her opponent and won 14 of the 17 points when her first serve went in. Errani hung close but the 1.88m Sharapova converted two break points to Errani’s one giving the Russian the first set 6-3.
In the second set Errani committed three more unforced errors than in the first set, however after being down a setkand a break of serve at 0-2 Errani became more aggressive, dictated the point more often, won five of eight points when she ventured forward to the net and doubled the number of winners she hit in the first set.
Sharapova hit even more winners than in the first set – 20 and most importantly converted three break points to her opponent’s one. A number of games could have gone either way, yet Sharapova clearly played the better tennis on the big points and converted her third championship point at 5-2. After making her first Grand Slam quarter final at Rola.d Garros in 2004, Sharapova made two semi finals afterwards in 2007 and last year.
Sharapova has been the most consistent WTA player at Grand Slam singles events for over a year after her runner-up performances at Wimbledon in 2011 and at the 2012 Australian Open. The third Grand Slam final from the past four Slams saw Sharapova:
- win her first Roland Garros singles title after winning Wimbledon 2004, US Open 2006 and Australian Open 2008.
- return to the World No.1 ranking which, she first achieved on 22 August 2005.
- become only the sixth woman to win a career Grand Slam in the Open-era and the 10th in the history of the game.
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photo credit: mbevis