What a strange Roland Garros this year, with very few intense battles, insipid semifinals but a flamboyant first time winner.

The Good:

– Francesca Schiavone:

Francesca Schiavone

– Sam Stosur

Sam Stosur

– Robin Soderling: Ex-bad boy Robin Soderling finished runner-up for the second year in a row. He once again impressed the tennis world with his amazing win over defending champion Roger Federer. But unfortunately for him, he didn’t really get into the final against Rafa: “I didn’t play as good as I did last year. I didn’t serve so well. I wasn’t hitting the ball as clean. You know, I had some chances in the beginning, but I didn’t take them. And then he won the first and then played really well in the second, so then, you know, that’s about… “

– Jurgen Melzer: The big surprise in the men’s draw. More famous for his girlfriends (Myskina, Cibulkova…) than for his game, Melzer reached the semifinals of a major for the first time of his career after his surprising wins over David Ferrer and Novak Djokovic.

The Bad:

– French players: What a disaster! The best frenchman was Jo-Wilfried Tsonga who was forced to retire in the 4th round against Mikhail Youzhny. Monfils was beaten by Fognini, Gasquet by Murray. There was not a single in the second week. A disaster.

– Svetlana Kuznetsova: Just 3 words: waste of talent.

– Dinara Safina: The worst performance of this French Open is without a doubt the loss of former number one Dinara Safina to Kimiko Date. Safina lead by one set and 2 breaks, and then 4-1 in the third set, but she self imploded and offered the match to the japanese veteran. It was Date’s first Grand Slam victory since the 1996 US Open.

The King:

Rafael Nadal

L'Equipe - Rafael Nadal

Francesca Schiavone is without a doubt the most surprising but also one of the most deserving Grand Slam winner. After a 12 year carrer, she conquered Roland Garros but also the italian hearts.

Francesca Schiavone

Francesca Schiavone

Francesca Schiavone

Francesca Schiavone

Her historical made the headlines in Italy. There was a 4-page report in La Gazzetta Sportiva on Sunday, with stories about her childhood, interviews of Francesca’s parents but also of Nicola Pietrangeli and Adriano Panatta both former Roland Garros winner (1959 and 1960 for Pietrangeli, 1976 for Panatta).

La Gazzetta Sportiva - Francesca Schiavone

La Gazzetta dello Sport - Francesca Schiavone

Her improbable and incredible run also inspired Marcello Lippi, Italy’s football national coach: “I want 11 Schiavone [for the World Cup]”

lippi

Francesca Schiavone à propos Sam Stosur: “She’s very strong, great power. She improves 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.”

Sam Stosur about Francesca Schiavone: “I think, you know, it’s a final. It’s a different situation and everything else. I mean, who knows what’s gonna happen? I think it’s whoever can handle it better on the day. And then like I said before, maybe keep it about the tennis and they’ll probably have a good shot at winning.”

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Nobody saw this final coming. Well, Stosur‘s presence in final is not such a surprise given her great results lately (win in Charleston and final in Stuttgart), but Schiavone‘s presence was really unexpected. Her best result in a Grand Slam so far was a quarter finals in Wimbledon last year.

But today, both Sam and Francesca are writing a beautiful page of their country tennis history.

Sam Stosur is the first Australian woman to reach a Grand Slam final since Wendy Turnbull in 1980. And Francesca Schiavone is now the first Italian woman ever to reach a Grand Slam final. She will also crack the Top 10 for the first time next week – just the second Italian ever to do so, after Flavia Pennetta.

Sam Stosur:

All the hard time is paying off for Stosur. Sidelined for about 9 months in 2007-2008 with the debilitating career-threatening Lyme’s disease, she recovered to regain her place in the top 30 last season. She captured her first WTA title last fall over … Francesca Schiavone and cracked the top 10. Stosur’s serve and forehand groundstrokes, hit with heavy spin are considered some of the best on the women’s tour.
She had an incredible run these past two weeks: she has beaten three past and present n°1s in a row (Justine Henin, Serena Williams, Jelena Jankovic) on the way to the final.

Stosur’s record in finals so far:

Outcome Date Tournament Surface Opponent in Final Score in Final
Runner-up 8 January 2005 Gold Coast Hard Patty Schnyder 1–6, 6–3, 7–5
Runner-up 15 January 2005 Sydney Hard Alicia Molik 6–7(5), 6–4, 7–5
Runner-up 4 May 2006 Prague Clay (O) Shahar Peer 4–6, 6–2, 6–1
Runner-up 28 September 2008 Seoul Hard Maria Kirilenko 2–6, 6–1, 6–4
Runner-up 9 August 2009 Los Angeles Hard Flavia Pennetta 6–4, 6–3
Winner 18 October 2009 Osaka Hard Francesca Schiavone 7–5, 6–1
Winner 18 April 2010 Charleston Clay (O) Vera Zvonareva 6–0, 6–3

Francesca Shiavone

Francesca’s path to the final was much more easier: she defeated Caroline Wozniacki in quarters and Elena Dementieva in semifinals, but the Dane was exhausted by her marathon match against Flavia Pennetta in the previous round, and Elena retired after the loss of the first set.
She is a very complete player and likes to attack the net to finish off the point.

Schiavone’s record in finals so far:

Outcome Date Tournament Surface Opponent in final Score in final
Runner-up 12 June 2000 Tashkent Hard Iroda Tulyaganova 6–3, 2–6, 6–3
Runner-up 6 January 1993 Canberra Hard Meghann Shaughnessy 6–1, 6–1
Runner-up 12 September 2005 Bali Hard Lindsay Davenport 6–2, 6–4
Runner-up 10 0ctober 2005 Moscow Carpet Mary Pierce 6-4, 6-3
Runner-up 24 October 2005 Hasselt Carpet Kim Clijsters 6–2, 6-2
Runner-up 9 January 2006 Sydney Hard Justine Henin 4–6, 7-5, 7-5
Runner-up 3 April 2006 Amelia Island Clay Nadia Petrova 6-4, 6-4
Runner-up 25 September 2006 Luxembourg Hard Alona Bondarenko 6–3, 6–2
Winner 29 July 2007 Bad Gastein Clay Yvonne Meusburger 6-1, 6-4
Runner-up 13 July 2009 Prague Clay Sybille Bammer 7-6, 6-2
Runner-up 12 October 2009 Osaka Hard Sam Stosur 7-5, 6-1
Winner 25 October 2009 Moscow Hard Olga Govortsova 6-3, 6-0
Winner 17 April 2010 Barcelona Clay Roberta Vinci 6-1, 6-1

So, who’s the favorite for the title this afternoon?

Sam and Francesca are both in the form of their life but Stosur seems to be the one who will capture her maiden Grand Slam title.

But who knows how both of them will handle the pressure?

Sam used to be a choker but everything has changed since a few months. And as she explained it in press conference she already has Grand Slam finals experience… in doubles. But the pressure is on the Australian, as the Italian is clearly the underdog.
Francesca is a fighter and will give eveything for the title, she also knows there won’t be any other chance for her!

So, it will be an interesting match today between these two veterans. Sam leads their head to head 4 to 1, she has won their last four meetings. She’s clearly the favorite but a final is so different from every other match, so who knows what can happen.

Year Tournament Surface Winner Score in final
2005 Hasselt Hard Schiavone 6-3, 6-2
2007 Rome Clay Stosur 6–3, 6–4
2009 Indian Wells Hard Stosur 6–1, 6–4
2009 French Open Clay Stosur 6-4, 6-2
2009 Osaka Hard Stosur 7-5, 6-1

You can follow the final live on Tennis Buzz this afternoon.

14.54 Francesca Schiavone wins the first set over Caroline Wozniacki 6-2. The Dane is probably really tired by her marathon win over Flavia Pennetta in the fourth round.

15.34 Schiavone totally dominates the world number 3 and she is through to semifinals after her 6-2 6-3 in only 80 minutes.
Wozniacki was -as often- too many passive and she was ousted by the 17h seed who reaches the last 4 of a major for the first time of her long career. Well done Francesca.

15.46 There’s a lot more drama on the court Suzanne Lenglen: 6-2 for Petrova in the first set, 6-2 for Dementieva second set. Petrova looks injured.

15.48 Federer and Soderling warm-up. Go Soderling!

16.19 2-6 6-2 6-0 for Dementieva over Petrova who played on one leg in the third set.

16.20 Break for Federer 5-3

16.28 First set for Federer. He serves very well but Soderling works really hard and he will perhaps finally beat the Swiss Maestro. It would be the first time in 13 encounters. Mai dire mai, never say never!

16.35 And break for Soderling! 2-0 second set.

17.00 And it’s now one set all!

17.45 Play is suspended by rain

18.45 Players are back on court

19.00 Federer, (and Nadal also) doesn’t like big-hitter like Soderling, Gulbis or Berdych, who play on clay as it was hard court. And Soderling leads two sets to one!

19.40 Two match points for Soderling!

19.45 That’s it, he’s done it! Soderling defeats Federer in 4 sets: 3-6 6-3 7-5 6-4
One year after his win over Nadal, the Swede cuts Fed’s head off. Next opponent for Robin: Tomas Berdych who dismantled Youzhny 6-3 6-1 6-2

Today’s hero:

Robin Soderling - 1er tour de Roland Garros 2010 - tennis french open

Finally some good action today at Roland Garros. I don’t know what you think but in my opinion it was a pretty boring tournament so far.

Tomorrow’s matches on court Philippe Chatrier:
Serena Williams-Sam Stosur
Rafael Nadal – Nicolas Almagro

On court Suzanne Lenglen:
Jelena Jankovic-Yaroslava Shvedova
Novak Djokovic-Jurgen Melzer