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Going Inside – and Beyond 06/05/2010 - 3:16 PM

101641983

by Pete Bodo

It was 3-2 in the tiebreaker, mini-break to Francesca Schiavone, when she felt the surge of energy flooding her entire being. It was that primal gift that sometimes goes by the name "killer instinct," but in polite company is more likely to be called "focus," or an "adrenaline rush."

But it was coming on strong, and of it Schiavone would later say, "I was feeling it more and more and more. I couldn't really stop it."

Samantha Stosur, across the net, also was powerless to stop it. On the very next point, Schiavone attacked, treading that fine line between the bold and reckless, and she won the point with a volley. "I really felt that that was my moment," she would say. And on the next point she powdered a forehand winner. "That was my moment and I took it."

Again she attacked, and hit a crosscourt volley winner after a brief rally to reach match point, 6-2, with Stosur to serve again. "I took it, and I didn't lose the chance. I didn't care about nothing. I want to take that [ball] and play my tennis. It was the moment."

Stosur served to the backhand; both women took big cuts at the ball and the thought flashed electric in Schiavone's mind: Go inside [attack the serve, move into the court; it was the litany she'd repeated to herself since she'd woken up this morning] . . . Put on her as much pressure as you can.

She lashed out at the ball, as she had so often throughout the sunny afternoon. Again, her aim was true. The ball kicked up the dust, but found the seam that effectively handcuffed Stosur, who was camped in her backhand corner, looking to hit that powerful inside-out forehand. 

Stosur drove the ball long, and suddenly it was over. All that energy had finally escaped, almost like helium, and Schiavone fell to the court like a puppet. She was the French Open champion by virtue of the masterful 6-4, 7-6 (2) win.

It wasn't supposed to end that way. Francesca Schiavone, No. 17 in the world and a first-time Grand Slam finalist at age 29, was supposed to accept that familiar bouquet of flowers, walk out on court Chatrier, get waxed, but good, and then make a nice speech, remember to thank the ball boys and ball girls, and pad off softly into the fog of history—just another pleasant interlude en route to immortality as the answer to a trivia question: Who did Sam Stosur beat in the 2010 French Open final?

Granted, Stosur is no Serena Williams or Justine Henin. But here, she was better than either of them. She proved it by beating both former champions in back-to-back, bitterly contested three-set matches. It was, most people reckoned, Stosur's time. The icons had been shattered. All that remained was a soulful, raven-haired Italian woman who was likely in way over her head.

After all, Stosur had risen to No. 7 in the world rankings with consistent play over the past year (18 months ago, she was ranked No. 52 in the world). Her kick serve was the talk of tennis geeks everywhere, and her newfound firmness of hand and mind was a hot topic for every armchair psychologist who ever wondered how he'd look in a pair of those Rafael Nadal clamdiggers, or one of those outfits that made Venus Williams look like Miss Kitty in Gunsmoke.

Stosur was the ascending star, Schiavone the comet streaking across the tennis firmament, destined to burn out before our very eyes, putting the conventional tail on the familiar story. I didn't speak to a single person here at the Stade Roland Garros before the match who thought Schiavone would win.

Many, many players had been in her shoes over the years at Grand Slam events, but only one of them (Iva Majoli) had so shocked expectations. What did Schiavone do differently from all those other unusual suspects? "I prepared for the final mentally and tactically very good. I was so concentrate on my serve. I try to don't look nowhere, but just to feel my play and try to be aggressive as much as I could."

Well, there's still a big difference between arriving in the right frame of mind and executing at the necessary, high level—between getting and staying in the hunt and weathering those three or four key moments when you can get blindsided by a ghastly mental hiccup, a distraction, or a misfire, lasting all of a millisecond, of your neurological system. A fancy way of saying that Schiavone played the match of a lifetime when it mattered most:

"Inside, yes. I really always dreamed this tournament [result]. It's strange to say, but when I call my daddy, he say to me: 'I remember that you always dream this one.' Every morning that you wake up, you work to do something like this. So maybe it was far away in reality, but here [she pointed to her heart] it was never that far."

Well, those were inspirational words and tender sentiments. But the mortar and bricks of this triumph were the serves and returns, forehands and volleys. Let's take them one at a time:

101641953 The serve: This was theoretically Stosur's department, but two things happened. Schiavone served as well (exactly as well, 64 percent), but more effectively, repeatedly finding lines at moments of potential peril. More important, she neutralized Stosur's serve, obedient to her mantra, go inside.

You won't find this in the presser, but Schiavone told me later that when someone invests as heavily in the big serve as Stosur, and you have the gumption to take it early and hit a forcing return, you can catch her unprepared and somewhat flat-footed. It was the kind of subtle tactical nugget for which a coach gets the big money, but in this case it will stay in Schiavone's pocket. One of the many unusual aspects of her modus operandi is that the closest thing she has to a coach, Corrado Barazzutti, her Fed Cup captain, a man who, in his former life as an ATP tour pro, was known as Il soldatino—the "little soldier."

In any event, Schiavone won the battle of the serve on two fronts: She managed to make of her serve enough of a weapon to remain on the offensive, and Stosur's less of one, than anyone would have dared predict.

The ground game: Schiavone's go-inside strategy enabled her to take charge of numerous rallies that Stosur might otherwise have turned her own way. If the rally was three strokes or fewer, Stosur was in command; if it went beyond three swings from either lady, Schiavone called the tune. Before I lost track near the end of the first set, Stosur's record in short rallies was 23-11, but Schiavone led 11-3 in the longer ones.

Beyond that, Schiavone did not overly exert herself looking for Stosur's backhand. And she made good use of her own to keep Stosur on the defensive and change the pace, a ploy that can trouble Stosur, whose game has a studied, brittle quality. She's far more comfortable exchanging big statements than probing questions. In that sense, the matchup was less favorable to Stosur than most pundits realized. For on this day, Schiavone asked plenty of questions and Stosur found it vexing to answer them with authority.

The volley: My Italian colleague Ubaldo Scanagatta says that in 17 years of watching and thinking about such things, he can't remember a single instance when a woman in the final (other than Schiavone today) didn't make a single volleying error. Well, the stats sheet doesn't track volley errors, and my own notes are unreliable. But the fact that someone will be sitting up tonight to fact check this tells you all you need to know about Schiavone's use of the volley today. She had seven volley winners, to two by Stosur, and the latter didn't have a single passing-shot winner (Schiavone had four).

You have to feel for Stosur, because even Schiavone admitted that she had played lights-out tennis. Asked how she would describe what she did today, she replied:  "Um, to go over. Oltre?  Over the limits. Si, over the limits and be really everything that you can be in one hour, 20 minutes." One hour, 38 minutes, to be precise.

Still, Stosur had her chances. She led 4-1 (a lead that can look insurmountable, despite being built on a single break of serve), and at that point should have ratcheted up her game. But she insisted on coloring inside the lines, while Schiavone again had the courage to go outside them, showing the kind of athletic courage that the occasion and circumstances demanded.

Schiavone played a fine game and leaped out to a 40-0 lead on Stosur's serve at 4-1 and broke back at 15, snapping the string of games in which Stosur was most dangerous. Stosur returned to playing inside herself in the self-injurious way, in marked contrast to Schiavone, who again began to let it rip. Schiavone took her chances, and struck a perfect balance between restraint and abandon the rest of the way.

I asked Stosur, in her presser, if she alternated between feeling a little tight and loose, and she said: "I actually felt quite good the whole time. Probably not as free as other matches, but overall, quite pleased with the way I handled it. I mean, it was a big occasion, and you never really know how you're gonna react. But I tried to prepare myself as best I could, and actually felt quite good out there the whole time. She was putting a lot of pressure on me and really forcing what was happening, so maybe that was kind of why I didn't look the same as maybe other matches."

That was a fair assessement, for it was Schiavone's day. She went where every first-time finalist hopes to go—and beyond. But her attempt to articulate what it all meant to her, a kid who had dreamed like a million other kids have about one day winning a Grand Slam singles title, was put in touchingly simple terms:

"This is mean that everybody have the chance to be who really you want to be, and to do everything in your life. This is what's happen to me."

Schiavone, you might say, won this one for everyone.


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Posted by Texastennis 06/05/2010 at 03:28 PM

Am I going to be first?

Just watched a highlight bit of Graf at the RO and Schiavone reminds me a lot of that style of play - very fluid hitting, very athletic, able to open up and hit very hard, much wider range of shotmaking and more sophisticate point construction than today's usual ball bashing. Schiavone is no Graf but there's so much to like and enjoy about that way of playing. Loved the match today.

Posted by Ruth 06/05/2010 at 04:01 PM

Pete: Fran did exactly what you advised and talked about in your last post -- she lived completely in the moment and saved the enjoying of the moment(s) for later.

Smart lady! Smart writer! :)

TC does not have any replays of the match scheduled, certainly not in the days ahead. I guess NBC owns the rights, but I hope that we'll be able to see the match replayed on TC some time soon because, even though I was not especially rooting for one player over the other in the final, I still had my stupid/childish moments when I was just too nervous to watch the TV screen continuously like a real grownup...so I missed some moments (like in the TB). And I didn't tape the match! :(

Posted by Ruby 06/05/2010 at 04:08 PM

Actually, TC does have replays of the match scheduled for this Wednesday, June 9, at 8 p.m. and Midnight EST. Just got an e-mail from them to that effect and it is on their weekly schedule if you check the website . . .

Posted by sblily (Wheeeeee!!!/We gonna see, no?) 06/05/2010 at 04:10 PM

Ruby - Awesome. Thx for the heads up. Setting my Tivo now...

Posted by Heidi 06/05/2010 at 04:18 PM

It was great to see Schiavone rise to the occasion, to get out that tired old line. Stosur wasn't bad, either. At least it wasn't a blowout like we've had in some finals in the last few years! No matter what happened, I was going to feel bad for the runner-up... so congrats to them both, and hope they do well at W.

Oh, and Pete, loved the little Lauren Fishbein piece.

Posted by Andrew Friedman 06/05/2010 at 04:19 PM

Great stuff, Pete. Love the way Schiavone says, "This is what's happened to me"... as though she was a passive participant... she really did play like a woman possessed (in a good way) those last several games, and the sublime breaker... dovetails perfectly with her other comment that "I was feeling it more and more. I couldn't really stop it." However she got to that place, it was a joy to watch her meet the moment...

Posted by bob wolff 06/05/2010 at 04:22 PM

I feel sorry for Stosur....anyone's whose played has run into an opponent that suddenly plays way above themselves....sometimes just for a set...sometimes for the match....Schiavone probably played the match of her life.....and who could ask for a better time to do it? her serve was never as good...never as potent... I actually think she outhit Stosur....forehand and backhand......she hit short incredible slices.....she hit deep sideline to sideline slices...and topspin....she made errors but none at the wrong time.....she hit amazing topspin backhands where the ball was at or above her shoulder.....everything went in when she needed it.....and Stosur was just unable to raise her game to match....she didn't play poorly...she just couldn't play better.....it was one of the best finals in the woman's game in a long time.....

Posted by ShermanTank 06/05/2010 at 04:26 PM

Schiavone deserved to win. As a fan, I've seen Schiavone play a few early-rounds here and there on TV and I've noticed her FedCup heroics on this site and the WTA tour site. However, to me, she'd gotten lost in the field of "big babe" tennis players. Today, when it counted most, she through down the gauntlet and dare Stosur to stand in there and go toe-to-toe with her. Today she looked remarkable, truly special. I rooted for Stosur early on. I knew she was favored to win, and I'd followed her clay season success since winning in Charleston. But, Schiavone clearly wanted this so much more. She looks crazed, wild-eyed and beautiful out on the court, throwing every bit of diminutive frame into each and every shot she took. She truly looked and played like Nadal, like a clay court master. She won the crowd, won the match, and won the tournament with her passion, her belief in herself, and her abandon. If you watched the match then you know what I'm talking about. She WAS NOT going to lose this match, not to anyone, not today. Congratulations to her!!

Posted by Mr. and Mrs. D. 06/05/2010 at 04:35 PM

Was rooting for Frannie, but truly believed Sam would pull it out up until the very end. Enjoy Schiavone's tennis game, her serve today was impressive--not expecting that.

As far as who wanted it more....who am I to say? Her emotions on the court were a pleasure to witness, but that is pure personality and imo it would be a disservice to judge Sam's motivation based on her lack of emotional display.

Posted by joe 06/05/2010 at 04:38 PM

wow she just lost the biggest match of her life and she said that she felt "quite good"... with an attitude like that, no wonder schiavone won

Posted by JimmyMulligan 06/05/2010 at 04:42 PM

AH HA! ... Its very emotional when an underdog can summon the strength and will of the entire Roman Army to win the grand prize as is Roland Garros. (tissue) lol.
I don't know who is in charge of placing matches on particular courts...is it the FFT? I only ask because I also wonder is there no other place in the world where the courts are so vastly different?
That everybody plays in the same conditions sentiment...I don't see it. I don't see it on either draw.
The Final tomorrow Oh La LA! Nadal's looping heavy tormenting topspins that jump up high off the court vs. the tall long flat deep strokes of a player that has beeen known to be (pardon me french) pretty much an as shole. lol.
thourO lee enjoyed . gracias amigo

Posted by avid sports fan aka "Sigh-Rena" 06/05/2010 at 04:42 PM

Franny played one heck of a match and a wow wow wow of a TB.
The winner and her trophy:
http://tinyurl.com/2557656

Posted by Rsquared 06/05/2010 at 04:42 PM

Congratulations to Schiavone! She impressed me with her brilliant tactical play and winning personality. Commendations and commiserations to Stosur. She got to the final the hard way and yet never let us see her sweat. Although, she couldn't quite close the deal. She played well throughout the tournament. Nice to have someone other than the usual suspects (i.e., Serena, Venus, Justine, Kim) holding aloft a GS trophy. But I'll be happy to see what Serena and Venus do at Wimbledon. I'll be even more curious to see what Justine brings, as Wimbeldon was the impetus for her return. For today, however, I'm happy to celebrate Schiavone! Bravissima!

Posted by MZK 06/05/2010 at 04:44 PM

Well, just like everybody anticipated a fortnight ago, we got a champion who stands at 5'5", lets fly with a penetrating one-handed backhand, possesses an all-court game and excellent footwork on the clay. However, she hails from Italy, not Belgium. ;)

Excellent quality final. I'm pleased with the outcome, but not the scoreline: we needed three sets of that tennis! I hope Stosur keeps building on her hard work here and does not get discouraged. And I'm glad Schiavone got a splendid trophy for herself to go with the all the Fed Cup titles.

Posted by Larry 06/05/2010 at 05:02 PM

Watching today's match made me realize how the Williams sisters and the Russian players destroyed women's tennis with poor technique, no variety, just muscles and power. Thank goodness players like Schiavone or even Stosur are still around. Today's match was by far the most entertaining French Open final in more than a decade: volleys, spins, angles, extroversion, creativity. That's what tennis should be all about. A tennis court is not a boxing ring!

Posted by AB 06/05/2010 at 05:04 PM

Thank you, Pete for *all* your WTA write-ups this tournament. You did justice to that fantastic final in this piece. I enjoyed every point today. Francesca herself said she had a realization after beating Li Na that she could win this tournament. I watched that match and was quite surprised at her focus. I used to be a fan of her game but got quite frustrated with her inability to string any good points together. I stuck her in the James Blake category of players who were headcases who would never realize their potential, but give us sporadic, beautiful games.

I'm still basking in the afterglow of her success. These stories are the reason I'm a sports nut. The meme of conquering your own ego and demons is the one that keeps me watching these events.

I don't think it was as simple as lights out, red-lining, playing the best match of your life tennis. After she beat Li Na, she clearly had a game play for each opponent and stayed focused, didn't let the shanked shot get to her. She kept her emotions in check and looked very determined. She served gutsily and charged opportunistically.

Just as impressive a run to the final, IMHO. Planning and playing smart and bold tennis. More!

Sam was impressive as well as I hope and believe she will build on this. She will not be shattered by this loss.

Not sure what Francesca will do post title. She seems very committed to her career so, hopefully she will enjoy further success. They're both great role models for women's tennis.

Posted by Kevin @ Dublin 06/05/2010 at 05:08 PM

One of the most entertaining women's finals of recent years. Tennis has changed a lot since the days when youth was nearly the deciding factor for a winner. Now as the sport has changed so much, fitness and experience also have a big part to play. Matches like this can only do good for the image of the WTA tour which is certainly suffering from a lack of interest of late.

I really enjoyed this match so much, not supporting either. By the end we had a worthy winner and tennis also had a victory in that it's possible to have a good final without "stars" but having star-quality tennis featured.

Posted by vetmama 06/05/2010 at 05:09 PM

I'm also proud of TWibe members today when I read the outpouring of elation over this match, and all the love for Fran.

So many people who never thought twice about Schiavone before took her to their hearts, despite her obvious lack of photogenic girlie charms, because of her Braveheart performance, her fiery, varied game and her joyful personality.

It just shows how much we all purely love the game of tennis, and anyone who can play with their heart.

Posted by alex 06/05/2010 at 05:15 PM

"although my abiding concern is that Sam Stosur may come out snorting fire and blow out Francesca Schiavone"

can you get anything right ????

do you know even rules of tennis ???

and all that nonsense you`ve spoken (t.c podcast- best comedy on net)about Fed Cup???

Fed Cup winner - RG winner !!!

and again what about two loves of your life Peer & Jankovic ???

please get you "white socks" wearing american ..... from Europe!

Posted by Aquinas 06/05/2010 at 05:15 PM

This match reminded me a bit of the 2002 men's final between Albert Costa and Juan Carlos Ferrero. Costa, the old veteran, was meant to be easy pickings for the younger, heavily favored Ferrero. But Costa went out there and played bold, confident tennis (like Schiavone today) and Ferrero didn't have any answers. When Ferrero played in the final the very next year, he was much better prepared for the "moment." Maybe Stosur's time will come 12 months from now.

Posted by TennisFan2 (looking for the 5th red star) 06/05/2010 at 05:19 PM

"I still don't think I played that bad. She just had her day. She went for it and everything came off. You know, it takes guts to do that, and she did it. Sam on Schiavone.

Sam you are a classy lady.

Kudos to both players on a fantastic two weeks. I won't soon forget this final. This was definitely a great one for the fans of the game. Couldn't help tearing up at the end of the match.

Posted by Ruth 06/05/2010 at 05:20 PM

Thak you, Ruby (@ 4:08). I checked the Sun, Mon, Tues TC schedules, and then stopped looking. I assumed there'd be an NBC embargo on replays, but I thought it would be just for a day or two at most. Must add that to my calendar now.

Posted by GEM Tennis 06/05/2010 at 05:22 PM

I'm so happy for women's tennis that these two wonderful athletes had the ability to contest for a major championship. There weren't any big names or tv personalities, but just two true tennis players going after their dream. Schiavone played the match of her life and deserves this moment, but nothing can be taken away from the tournament Stosur had as well. I hope these ladies stay in the mix to compete for championships for many more years...

http://www.gemtennis.com

Posted by don326 06/05/2010 at 05:24 PM

man or woman

Posted by Bhai Mirzai 06/05/2010 at 05:28 PM

Thank you ladies for shriek-free, grunt-free match. Wonderful.

Posted by Clay 06/05/2010 at 05:33 PM

Loved the matchup, loved the match, loved the outcome, but you can't help but feel sorry for Sam. After battling through possibly the 3 toughest women on the tour, she falls one match short. She was probably thinking "what do I have to do to win this thing?"

... but, of course, wining the final is what you have to do! Congrats to Francesca, she earned it!

Posted by reckoner 06/05/2010 at 05:41 PM

big win for the italian, but sadly, an even bigger loss for sam stosur

Posted by Tim (SAVE_RG.SOD) 06/05/2010 at 05:45 PM

i never thought of that, the first SHRIEK -free SLam final in ages!

Another reason to celebrate! you dont have to scream like a banshee to hit a nice tennis ball, ladies...

Posted by phillykarl 06/05/2010 at 05:53 PM

Congrats to Sam for an amazing run and a classy speech. What a wonderful role model she is. And Congrats to Francesca for the most amazing women's final in a decade. That beautiful smile of hers will light up the City of Lights for a long time.

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 06/05/2010 at 06:02 PM

Thanks Pete,

Bella Fran I am soo delighted with your win.You played a great game from start to finish and are soo deserving to be the RG Womans Title Holder.

I have always enjoyed watching you over the years.Your game has soo much variety.We all witnessed that over the 2 weeks at RG.

To think at just 29 years young nearly 30 you have made your dream come true.

Bella Fran and good luck to you for the rest of the season.

Posted by Joey 06/05/2010 at 06:14 PM


I told my friend Mike that Francesca was going to win the match today. I thought it would take three sets, but she was even better than I predicted. I watched her during Fed Cup and knew that she is very nationalistic. The fact that no Italian woman had been where she was would provide her with the extra edge needed to win. The support and love that she got from her Fed Cup teammates, coaches and family was awesome. If I was not in a public place at the time, I would have cried. I still might cry at some later moment. Like Peter said, it felt like she won this for everyone.

Posted by Joey 06/05/2010 at 06:15 PM

By the way, that was one of the best women's matches I've seen in a very long time. I predict that Sam will win the next slam. A new day has come to women's tennis.

Posted by bob wolff 06/05/2010 at 06:33 PM

nope....Sam will never get to another final....and neither will Francesca...this was their one shot.....shame....Sam played very well for most of the tournament....Fran played well, and great for one match......I was rooting for Sam....she has a very good game but not a great one....and she is one of those players that can play well, but not raise her game when she needs it.....Schiavone is a mere afterthought...a good player...not a great one....but one that can play great when she needed it most.....and I didn't actually think it was a great match...Francesca simply went for everything....and made most...there's not much you can do when that happens except try to weather the storm out....Stosur simply ran out of time...

Posted by Rsquared 06/05/2010 at 06:38 PM

Why do some posters insist on drawing on today's terrific match to denigrate the brand of tennis played by the Williams Sisters or the Russians. Sure, the variety on display in the final was a terrific tribute to all-court tennis. But the speed, power, and athleticism we see from players like Serena and Venus is no bad imitation of tennis. Some of us like our sports athletic and powerful. There's no shame in tennis making room for that style of play n the new millennium. Yes, it's great that the that this powerful style of tennis has not completely displaced more old-school approaches. But why can't we let a 100 flowers bloom. The Williams Sisters and the Russians didn't destroy tennis. They brought it into the new century and kept it on pace with other sports. Make no mistake. Both Stosur and Schiavone incorporated some of the new school with the old in the match today. It all made for an engrossing match.

Posted by Tim (SAVE_RG.SOD) 06/05/2010 at 06:46 PM

i dunno if msf is around, but im wtching that Laver Nastase match, and Nastase is a complete a hole, geez! no respect for the 2 time Grand Slammer at all, he kind of made a mockery of the match... he was a kook out there!

Posted by Tim (SAVE_RG.SOD) 06/05/2010 at 06:49 PM

Rsquared sounds like thats more your view that most here, i think most people here were in fact just thrilled to have a good women's final without a zillion service breaks and meltdowns, not to mention relative quiet...not much of that around the women's game anymore..

Posted by Ruth 06/05/2010 at 07:01 PM

Rsquared: Where have you been? I was waiting for someone to express better than I ever could what I was feeling both about the match and about SOME of the comments posted since the end of the match.

Thankfully, the comments by TWers who simply praise the wonderful performance by Stosur and Schiavone far outnumber those comments which are merely veiled (or unveiled!) attempts to attack the modern women's game in general and certain women players in specific.

To those pertsons whose comments fit neatly into the latter category, I say...Pfft. (Pfft?!?! See why I needed to wait for your comment, Rsquared? LOL)

Posted by AB 06/05/2010 at 07:05 PM

Softy Tim: Your tears have just dried and you're starting to sound like Instigator Tim again. Don't forget how you were sniffling earlier today.

RSquared: Quadrupled.

Posted by AB 06/05/2010 at 07:06 PM

Hi Ruth: Aren't you just giddy with happiness? What a match!

AM: Clay court tennis rules!

Posted by Corrie 06/05/2010 at 07:09 PM

I thought this was a more entertaining and well played match than most WTA finals at the French for quite a while. Sam didn't melt into liquid jelly, Franny just played really good all court tennis, just a treat to watch. I'm very happy that Franny won, she's a terrific girl, but I think Sam's time will come. This will be invaluable experience for her and another step upwards. They were both really sporting afterwards too, as good friends - no cursory handshake this time. It should do wonders for tennis in both Australia and Italy.

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 06/05/2010 at 07:12 PM

AB Yes indeed clay court tennis does rule

I think we all saw that last night

Fran has always been a joy to watch.

I am thrilled for her.Also being a fellow country woman? what more can I say

My brother rang me from Italy he is just over the moon

Posted by Tim (SAVE_RG.SOD) 06/05/2010 at 07:13 PM

i guess one is just supposed to suppress ALL opinions that the higher ups around here dont like, is that the way it goes?

oh, yeah, that IS how it goes ! ok, AB back to sniffling ...

Posted by Tim (SAVE_RG.SOD) 06/05/2010 at 07:18 PM

my goodness it never ceases to amaze me the pompousness of some here whose opinions are somehow plated in gold and reserved for some Higher Realm of Fabulousness...

Posted by Mike 06/05/2010 at 07:19 PM

Wow, after reading what Sam said in her presser ... not making any excuses for her loss, that she felt fine ... just pressured by solid play from her opponent. When is the last time you can remember a highly favored player in a Major WTA match (or ATP, for that matter) after a loss being that honest and respectful of her opponent? You usually get 'I was not myself ... she had a career day ...' so on and so forth. Very admirable.

Posted by Ruth 06/05/2010 at 07:21 PM

What a match, indeed, AB! I e-mailed two of my Aussie friends, one in Melbourne and one who now lives near me in suburban Philly, to offer commiserations on Sam's loss. But all of us are really thrilled with her stellar performances during the fortnight and are looking forward eagerly to Wimbledon.

Posted by Corrie 06/05/2010 at 07:30 PM

Franny and Sam are contrasts on the court but they've got in common that they both have great varied games to enjoy, though Franny more so this time, and they're very sporting gracious people. Not only did they praise each other generously but I thought it was great that Klijsters sent them both messages of congrats and support. I wish all players behaved as graciously.

Posted by Rsquared 06/05/2010 at 07:31 PM

Tim: Ummm . . . yes, that would be my view. That's why my name appears alongside it. Who else's view would it be????? What a silly observation. I would never presume to speak for anyone else here. You probably shouldn't either. You do well enough speaking for yourself. Stick to what you know. lol

Ruth and AB: Good to know there are others on the same page. I never understand why some posters feel the need to erect these false orthodoxies and hierarchies out of thin air. I'm not buying it. We like what we like. Rushing to enshrine our subjective tastes or preferences as "transparent" or "objective" gold standards to which everyone else must genuflect smacks of insecurity. Tim likes his tennis one way. Some of us see value in other styles. I'm not sure what else needs to be said.

Posted by Game Lover 06/05/2010 at 07:36 PM

Ok, now that's out of the way: let's go Rafa, let's go! :D

Posted by Phillis 06/05/2010 at 07:49 PM

I think Sam's first serve perecentage let her down. MOre first serves, better drop shots and volleys (which were terrible btw) and she could have won the match. But besides those two points, F.S played extremely well. Feel sorry for Stosur though, it's not every tournament when you can beat Henin and Williams. She will have to start all over again. My friend thought that Sam did all the dirty work for F.S, and F.S won. Hope Sam doesn't feel that way. She must feel bitterly dissapointed. She nearly pulled out a Murray at the presentation, her words were trembling.

Posted by Tim (SAVE_RG.SOD) 06/05/2010 at 07:53 PM

Rsquared, thanks for letting me have my own opinion, Im serious... exactly my point, i just think its outrageous when others sit on their high horse and judge people's perspectives and ideas as somehow inferior to their own... its a big planet there's room for all kinds of opinions on what kind or style of tennis we all find appealing--or not so much lol

Posted by zolarafa 06/05/2010 at 07:56 PM

Congratulations to Schiavone and to Sam too. What a great two weeks these two had and what a great FO WTA final. One of the best.

I love both players. Great personalities. Schiavone shows her emotions so sweetly, you want to hug her. I wanted Sam to win, but I am sooo happy for this courageous girl. She played great tennis.

I think Sam was a bit tight. At moments she could have served better and her forehand wasn't working as well. But as Fran said, she is young and she should continue.

AM
seems you were a winner with either Fran or Sam taking the trophy. Can't get better than that!
Congratulations.

I cannot type anymre. I need to cross my fingers for RAfa for tomorrow! VAmos RAfa!

Posted by Tim (SAVE_RG.SOD) 06/05/2010 at 08:00 PM

Rsquared, thanks for letting me have my own opinion, Im serious... exactly my point, i just think its outrageous when others sit on their high horse and judge people's perspectives and ideas as somehow inferior to their own... its a big planet there's room for all kinds of opinions on what kind or style of tennis we all find appealing--or not so much lol

Posted by Rsquared 06/05/2010 at 08:01 PM

Tim: Great. We're in sync. One caveat though: I'm not a daily visitor to the site. I go through fits and lulls as far as visiting goes and post rather infrequently. So my perceptions could be mistaken. But I have noticed your opinions about the game are sometimes couched in language that suggests that you have little regard for opposing views. What is that? Sarcasm? I'm glad to hear that your all you're all for letting 100 flowers bloom in this opinion forum. It's a pity you're not nearly as ecumenical in your take on the game. Hehehehe.

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 06/05/2010 at 08:02 PM

zolarafa Yes I was a winner reagrdless.

I still feel Sams 1st serve percentage let her down.Also there was a point just before the t/break when she came to the net and she didnt have a clue what shot to play.I sat in disbelief.I felt she was tight and I could tell from her body language throughout the match

In saying that Bella Fran she played beautiful tennis from start to finish she executed a great game plan.

All credit to her.

Posted by Tim (SAVE_RG.SOD) 06/05/2010 at 08:09 PM

yes rsquared, sarcascm and snark are rather common themes in the majority of my posts, believe it or not...im all for opposing views, but i get cranky when others dont return the favor, if I wanna slam a pro tennis player I dont particularly like, dont try shut me down for it, or take it personally.... that is all..

marg arent u a little sad about Sam, I AM, in addition to being able to totally celebrate a veteran's life crowning moment as well, especially one who so bravely TOOK the moment.. I wanted an Aussie woman to win a Slam! bring back the era of Court and Gong

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 06/05/2010 at 08:10 PM

zolarafa Stay "calm" my friend

I am not worried at all or "frazzled" at all with the mens final

I saw enough in the mens s/final which kind of backed up my thoughts

Vamos Rafa!

Posted by Geemom 06/05/2010 at 08:10 PM

I loved this final. What likable young women. So wonderful to see this good hitting without the mental breakdowns and grunts. I hope we see more of both of these players. Tennis needs new gals to step up. Today's final made me so happy. I didn't really care who won, but was pleased with the outcome. Sam will win one soon.

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 06/05/2010 at 08:13 PM

Tim Of course I am sad.Though I think you and I have seen enough tennis to know any thing can happen in a final.

Its a whole new ball game.Each player has played well enough to get to a final.

Noone is a favourite.

On the day Fran was the better player and deserved her win.

Posted by Tennis Fan 06/05/2010 at 08:14 PM

"grunt-free match"

It wasn't grunt-free but it was high-pitched grunt-free.

Posted by Aube,I'll never drive and talk again!!! 06/05/2010 at 08:29 PM

Aussie Marg,Madame President,you make me cry,you are so classy you too,I should learn from you next time my two champions(SEREBABY AND QUEEN VEE) get beaten,I usually sulk at everybody around me and would not be brave enough to absorb defeat with grace!ah,how beautifulof you to congratulate Frannie!,I guess it's why this world is full of several kind of people...I wish I was among the ones that take every thing easy,alas!
Listen, still kiss Sam Stosur for me if you see her for beating Jelena Jankovic and tell her to keep trying,some day, she might win the big one,yes, some sweet day!!!

Posted by Ruth 06/05/2010 at 08:53 PM

Definitely shriek-free and screech-free, Tennis Fan, but, as you said, definitely not grunt-free. :)

Posted by Pierre 06/05/2010 at 08:55 PM

That win by Schiavone was the best performance by any athlete, male or female, so far at Roland Garros this year.

She used her abilities as best as she could, she had a plan and she executed it, and she fought and competed really well.

She didn't back into it either. She took it to Stosur, who is a very good player, and she drew errors from her opponent and finished points time after time.

In fact, when you consider what it means for Schiavone, her career, and even her country, I would say that she played the best match of any player this year.

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 06/05/2010 at 09:00 PM

Aube LOL!!!

Dont worry I havent got over Rafa's defeat at RG last year.I cried for weeks.My brother whom I am soo close to rang me after his match and tried to talk to me for 2 hours with no results let me tell you.

Dont worry I will still give Sam a kiss.Lets face it she still had a great tournament regardless that she lost the final

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 06/05/2010 at 09:07 PM

Just want to wish my idol in tennis Borg

Happy Birthday!!!

You still Rock!!

ps.I think you need to stay away from those tanning salons though.

Posted by chicklet 06/05/2010 at 09:07 PM

I can't help but feel that the quality of the men's final will be a letdown after the awesomeness of today.

I got the final I wanted, but I'll be too nervous for Rafa to actually enjoy the match.
If it's good news, I'll see you all tomorrow. If not, well...the liquor cabinet is fully stocked.


Posted by Philip 06/05/2010 at 09:17 PM

Seriously haven't felt this much joy about a match since Goran Ivanisevic finally won Wimbledon. But at least I expected him to win it one day. Francesca's win was unexpected and improbable. I only watched her a few times when tv coverage would pick up a match where she was playing a high seed. The last three matches she has played were just incredible to watch. Especially the final.

Posted by Pspace 06/05/2010 at 09:26 PM

I'm still sore about Sam losing, even though I missed the match. Can't really bring myself to be happy for Franny. *grumbles* Congrats, I guess.

Posted by Jenni 06/05/2010 at 09:33 PM

I'm still having a really hard time processing the fact that Francesca is a Grand Slam Champion. I'm absolutely thrilled for her, as I don't think RG could've asked for a more charming and appreciative winner. And I agree with Vetmama - the TW love for Fran has put a big stupid smile on my face. :)

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 06/05/2010 at 09:42 PM

Pspace Gotta move on okay

Jenni Stupid face lol!

Thank goodness the side way eye look is gone

Well for a moment anyway

If your happy I am happy.

Posted by Neveah 06/05/2010 at 09:45 PM

Yay Schiavone!!!!! I'm still celebrating from this morning.:)

To all the Rafa fans out there, believe that our Rafa can win this match.
Look at Fran, she lost to Sam last year and people automatically thought Sam would lift that trophy and Fran had other plans. ;)

This is not last year. Go Rafa! I will be cheering you on at 8 in the morning, neighbors get ready because it's on like hot buttered popcorn!!! Vamos and cheers Everybody!!! :)

Posted by Jenni 06/05/2010 at 10:02 PM

No side-eyes today, AM. Can't make any promises for tomorrow, though... :)

Speaking of which, looks like tomorrow may be a washout - let's hope the rain holds off long enough to get the final in.

Posted by mike 06/05/2010 at 10:04 PM

Im with you Rsquared...yes today was amazing tennis but absolutely no reason to negate what the Williams sisters and the Russians have done for womens tennis. Womens tennis has made it to prime time only in the last 10 years because of the aforementioned players. When Serena lost her match to Sam, it was Serena's picture that was everywhere not Sam's. Not saying its right, but womens tennis has changed because of the very same players that some of you seem to comdemn.

Posted by AB 06/05/2010 at 10:04 PM

Just recalled that there were a couple of questionable line calls on each side and both players took the other's word. Very professional on-court demeanor from both and yet, their personalities came through. What a change from the gamesmanship we've seen in the past. Refreshing.

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 06/05/2010 at 10:05 PM

Jenni My cousin who has tickets for the mens final rang me and still the forecast looks grim

Boo after great weather for the Ladies final

Anyway I am practising my "side eye glances" ok I might just join you in Foop Land yet

Posted by Ryota 06/05/2010 at 10:11 PM

It's been a long time since I watched a final without any vested interest in the players involved. It was refreshing. I enjoyed it.

Schiavone won this one fair and square. Congratulations!

Posted by temes 06/05/2010 at 10:11 PM

Humm I wouldn't call it a shriek free final Tim, unless you specifically categorize player noises in shrieks, grunts etc...Fran is one of the loudest players out there. lol

The final was truly superbly entertaining, I really enjoyed the creativity of how Fran was able to fend off the power of Stosur.

Posted by aussiemarg [Madame President in Comma Rehab for 2009] 06/05/2010 at 10:12 PM

Well I need some "light retail thereapy" always good after a loss

Better still I have my hubbys credit card

Which kind of brightens my world a bit

Later.

Posted by crazyone 06/05/2010 at 10:12 PM

Pspace, that's exactly because you didn't see the match. I think if you had you'd be more appreciative, at least I'd expect a Fed/Murray fan to be.

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 06/05/2010 at 10:17 PM

'evening all! So So happy for Francesca and I did think she was going to win and I believe I posted something to that effect here. Which thread I can't remember. But really surprised pete found NO ONE thinking Frannie could do. There was something abuot her experience that made her seem so calm and in control. We had a great couple of players out there today. A real shot in the arm for the WTA. Mature women, mature players, you know?

vetmama: I saw on the other thread that you have abandoned being a mama lion for a day in favor of the Sod. My head understands the reasoning, my heart however, is broken. ;)

Posted by temes 06/05/2010 at 10:20 PM

Yeah for anyone who saw the match, it's impossible not to be happy for Fran and appreciative of her performance...I really didn't think Fran could win by outplaying Stosur, more like Stosur playing bad but no amazing performance from Fran, proving me wrong...one going down in history for sure.

Anyone know what Schiavones ranking will be on Monday? Big difference?

Posted by Marshall1 06/05/2010 at 10:21 PM

I wonder if Stosur actually has taken Schiavone a bit too lightly in her preparation. On the other hand, Schiavone played a brilliant match with a balance between tactical play and go-for-it-ness. I think winning against Henin, S. Williams, and Jankovic made her a bit too confident, while Schiavone is playing lights-out tennis with good preparation. I was really frustrated watching Stosur played because I have such high expectation of her. She did clear the hurdles for Schiavone though (no Henin, S. Williams or Jankovic), but that's how the draw works, no complains there. If you don't grab the chance you have and run away with it, then it's your loss (see Dementieva, Safina, Petrova...mmmm...all Russians).

Do you guys think their personality play a part in their approach to the final?

Tomorrow prediction: Nadal in tough 4 sets.

Posted by Stewart 06/05/2010 at 10:28 PM

I think the only disappointment most of us have is that it didn't go to three sets, given how high the level of play was - then it really would have been a candidate for WTA match of the year. As it was, Francesca played the best complete match of any player so far.

Just a thoroughly entertaining and joyous affair. Even though I was rooting a little more for Stosur than Schiavone you can't help but love this woman. Sam's solid B game today was just not enough to fend off the outrageously A+ complete game from Francesca today.

Here's hoping Sam continues to build in her newfound confidence, vastly improved backhand, and formidable serve and forehand weapons. And tightens up those volleys!

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 06/05/2010 at 11:00 PM

temes: I believe I heard Jmac say Frannie will be in the top ten for the first time in her career. Isn't that just awesome sauce??!! Her best finish previously to today in a slam was FO 2001 where she was a semifinalist. Wonder why she didn't crack the top ten then.

Posted by zolarafa 06/05/2010 at 11:04 PM

temes
schiavone will be 6th in the world (from 18th).

Marshal1
I too think the difference was in the preparation. Sam was not orepared enough. But she is young and she has to build on this experience.

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 06/05/2010 at 11:07 PM

temes: It was during her Quarterfinal match that mac said she'd never been farther in a slam. So in 2001 she entered RG ranked 55, she made it to the quarters losing to Martina Hingis. Her next tournament after RG was Birmingham and she was ranked 35 for that.

She is currently ranked 17th, so winning RG will bring her way up in the top 10. maybe top 5?

Posted by Jenni 06/05/2010 at 11:09 PM

She's #6, Sam doesn't gain any ground and stays at 7. But Frannie's got QF points to defend at Wimbledon so it may be a short stay for her.

Posted by A Khwaja 06/05/2010 at 11:09 PM

I woted for Schiavone, when only 3% expect her to win, but seeing her game, I thought she will win and she did, great job, wonderfull. A, Khwaja

Posted by Ryota 06/05/2010 at 11:12 PM

Oh and tactically, Schiavone was spot-on. Aside from the variety and hustle, this is one of the aspects I thoroughly enjoyed during the match.

I was waiting for Stosur to solve the kick serve to her backhand and she couldn't. Nor could she press Schiavone enough by coming to the net and actually hitting the volleys.

Now if the Soderling-Nadal match comes close to the women's final - in terms of tactics and execution - I'd be one very happy camper.

Posted by ActionFlunky 06/05/2010 at 11:14 PM

Pspace@9:26 -- yep, pretty much how I felt.

Posted by adicecream (#3 finisher in TC WTA racquet bracket contest -- not to brag...) 06/05/2010 at 11:16 PM

Just wonderful. I have talked up Sam for the past two weeks, but I've always admired Schiavone and her win is just fine with me. Sam will have other chances. I do see her as a top 10 player; hope I'm right but I thought Vaidasova would be in the mix for years and that didn't happen.

As I mentioned (!), I did well in the TC contest. Usually I am about 4500 out of 5000 entries. And my husband finished 15th. Quite nice.

Posted by Voltaire 06/05/2010 at 11:54 PM

Pete-The women's final seems to have done one more good thing....forced you to write something heartfelt instead of rambling tosh you have been dishing of late. Excellent job and as you say Franny seems to have won it for everyone. Very hard to resist the groundswell of collective delight! Honestly I was expecting SaSo to win much like she did against Jankovic....but when I woke up late and checked scores on my Iphone bleary-eyed the picture of winner looked different and I had to really convince myself that it was not Sam....my denial melted when i watched the highlights....after all who could dislike(in sporting terms) Frannie when she is so infectiously exuberant,happy and actually thrilled when she saw the finish line instead of expected choking. Her finish reminded me of world-class sprinters making the final kick and leave everyone in their wake.....so freaking uplifting!

Heart-felt commiserations to Sam's fans but nothing to be disheartened she's WILL win a GS this year!

Posted by mayer 06/06/2010 at 12:01 AM

Schiavone was terrific. She was great to watch and I was so touched by her victory. Stosur will have more chances in the future.

Posted by Island Girl 06/06/2010 at 12:03 AM

Rsquared, you're eloquent and bold in your comments. I appreciate this. I notice that Tim is trying to get on your good side. That's what persuasion is about. Thanks for representing those of us who appreciate fair play and hate to see the Williams sisters targeted at the slightest opportunity.In the grand scheme of things, all those players have yet to achieve and sustain the quality and consitency that Serena has shown in her game.Keep the commentary real. Peace out! One love!

Posted by eclipse22 (rafagirl) 06/06/2010 at 12:35 AM

neveah thanks for your positive view, on rafa's perspectives tomorrow, i guess i will frazzle until the 1st games are out of the way, that's when warm-up is really over for me,after that i'll be on edge and pumped up like nadal's bicep, see u guys in the morning

Posted by Oscar Meyer-Wiener 06/06/2010 at 12:48 AM

Peter Bodo: another fun article to read.

I was rooting for Schiavone because she was always one who lost to a named player in the quarters or semis.

She played beautiful tennis under pressure to craft an improbable win.

I thought it was fantastic.

Posted by pgvoz 06/06/2010 at 12:59 AM

Brava, Francesca. I knew you could do it, especially when you broke back at 1-4. Then I knew the force of Navarone was going with Naschiavone!!! Un grandissimo piacere la tua vitoria. You had a plan, a strategy, you stuck to it, executed it, and never waivered. A beautiful career-defining moment.... And kudos to Samantha for being extremely gracious and level-headed in defeat. She won quiet a few fans with her soft-spoken, heartfelt words which were graceful and eloquent when she was heartbroken and clearly saddened.

A worthy Roland Garros final. Most excitement for me since 1990 when I sat in the stands surrounded by Agassi fans, waving my Ecuadorian flag, and rooted my countryman Andres Gomez to victory.

Posted by Oldschool 06/06/2010 at 01:19 AM

Pete Bodo with a spectacular article.
Schiavone and Stosur with the absolute most entertaining, inspiring and riveting women's GS final in many years (name another, I dare you).
Forza Francesca, Forza!
Totally awesome.
The whole family cried. My Italian wife touched heaven. It was awesome.
More!!
Thank you thank you thank you for sparing us the dour Russians, the overexposed Belgians, and the fatiguing W Sister Act.
Women's tennis is great again!

Posted by Melanie 06/06/2010 at 01:33 AM

Congrats to Frannie, she had the perfect tactics and pretty much took Stosur apart. I was surprised to see that Stosur who has won a few dubs titles basically couldnt volley to save herself.

I think that was one of the best womens games Ive seen in a long time, mainly as it wasnt just about power, it was about thinking and playing the right shot at the right time. Frannie certainly stepped it up and thoroughly deserved to win the Final, whereas Stosur looked abit lost. If she is to go on to higher things she is going to have a back up game plan when things start going wrong.

Congrats to Frannie and all of Italy, this is a tremendous win!

VAmos Rafa!!!

Posted by jewell - Just say no to Fedal wars! 06/06/2010 at 01:58 AM

Morning, everyone. :)

I liked this piece so much. :) Happy for Schiavone (impossible to look at her smile and not be really) and sad for Samantha Stosur; hope she has some more chances! I think she will.

I didn't actually get to see it, sadly, but I'm glad it was a good match.

Posted by Phillis 06/06/2010 at 03:03 AM

I feel so bad for Sam. After all that hard work beating Justine, Serena and Jankovic in a row, she fell at the last hurdle. I think I'm going to be depressed for the next couple of days. Hope she can go one better next year!

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