PARIS: Italy's Sara Errani crushed the French Open hopes ofSamantha Stosur of Australia on Thursday, reaching her first GrandSlam final with a 7-5, 1-6, 6-3 win. In Saturday's championship match, the 21st seed will go up againstthe winner of the other semi-final between second seed MariaSharapova of Russia and Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic. If she triumphs on Saturday she will be only the second Italianwoman to win the French Open, two years after Francesca Schiavone'sbreakthrough triumph and the first player ranked outside the worldtop 20 to win in Paris since 1976. "I have no words, it's incredible," she said. "It was very windy and one side was easy and the other side moredifficult. |
It's an amazing feeling. I did not expect this and Ican't believe it." US Open champion Stosur was bidding to become the first Australianwoman to win the French Open title since Margaret Court in 1973. Two years ago she was the first Australian to reach the final inParis since Wendy Turnbull in 1979, but on that occasion she lostin straight sets to Schiavone. It was a similar task that faced her on Thursday, pitting herweight of shot and physical presence against Italian guile andcourt-craft in the shape of the pint-sized Errani. She had won their five previous encounters.
After an 80-minute rain delay, the players got the first of theday's semis underway in bright sunshine and it was the 28-year-oldAustralian who settled in fastest. A comfortable service hold to open was followed by a first break ofserve with her trademark top-spin forehand again doing most of thedamage. Errani knew she had to vary her shot-making to try and unsettle herstronger opponent and she did so with great effect in the nextgame, drawing a rash of errors from the sixth seed which ended in abreak of serve to love. The Italian, winner of three claycourt titles in the lead-in toParis, promptly held to love to level at 2-2 in what had quicklyturned into a clash of contrasting styles. Serves were held comfortably until the 11th game when Stosur againlost her touch and timing, netting an easy volley at the net on thethird break point to Errani.
The 21st-seeded Italian served out totake the first set. Stosur struggled to hold serve at the start of the second set asErrani continued to run her ragged at times with her angled andvaried shot-making, but it was the Australian who bagged the firstbreak in the next game. That set off a run of five games in a row for the US Open championas she began to use her power to outgun her Italian opponent.Stosur put away the set 6-1. The momentum switched again though at the start of the deciding setas Stosur started to misfire on serve and with her groundstrokes. Errani moved 3-0 up, only for Stosur to break back and level at3-3.
With the wind getting up, the outcome of what had been atopsy-turvy match was on a knife-edge and, at 3-4 down, Stosurceded serve once again, saving two break points, only to hit aforehand long and wide on a third. Errani served out for the biggest win of her career. - AFP/de.
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