Schiavone seals historic title
Inspirational Italian illuminates Paris with Roland Garros win
By Elliot Ball. Last Updated: 05/06/10 4:45pm
Schiavone: French Open champion
Francesca Schiavone has become the first Italian woman to win a grand slam after a straight-sets victory over Sam Stosur in the French Open final.
The 17th seed, who was the overwhelming underdog heading into Saturday's showpiece, has been crowned the 2010 Roland Garros champion after tactically outclassing the seventh seeded Australian to record a 6-4 7-6 triumph on Court Phillipe Chatrier.
Victory made the 29-year-old the second oldest first-time major women's champion and it also shattered Stosur's dream of ending Australia's 30-year wait for a female champion at one of the four slams, a streak stretching back to Evonne Goolagong's 1980 Wimbledon win.
Schiavone, who had lost to Stosur in the first round here last year, got her tactics spot on, trumping the seventh seed's power game with clever variations of pace and movement.
She took the ball early, stepped inside and utilised her greater confidence at the net and with her volley to ensure the 26-year-old Stosur was kept on the defensive.
Schiavone, one of the few women to still employ a one-handed backhand, carved out the only break of the first set in the ninth game before claiming the opener in the 10th when an unsettled Stosur netted a backhand return.
The Australian, who had reached the semi-finals in 2009, made it to the final the hard way, having to defeat four-time French Open champion Justine Henin, world number one Serena Williams, against whom she saved a match point, and fourth seed Jelena Jankovic.
But unlike her fellow grand slam final debutant, she was struggling to make any impression until her fortunes briefly turned.
Having fought off two break points in the third game of the second set, Stosur finally got the measure of her opponent to break and hold for a 4-1 advantage.
However, 17th-seeded Schiavone bravely regained the break in the seventh game when Stosur went dramatically off the boil and backed it up with a hold for 4-4.
The set was decided by a tiebreak and Schiavone went to four match points with a sweet drop volley which she converted into the title when Stosur unleashed the last of many untidy returns which ballooned into the stands.
The emotional Italian collapsed to the ground in joy before, covered in the red dirt of Paris, she clambered up into the crowd to spark a wild celebration with family and friends.