Italian Francesca Schiavone won the women's singles title at the French Open in Paris after defeating Samantha Stosur of Australia 6-4, 7-6 (7/2) in the final.
AFP - Francesca Schiavone became the first Italian woman to win a Grand Slam singles title on Saturday after defeating Australian favourite Samantha Stosur 6-4, 7-6 (7/2) in the French Open final.
Victory made the 29-year-old the second oldest first-time Grand Slam women's champion.
It also shattered Stosur's aim of ending Australia's 30-year wait for a women's champion at one of the four majors, 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.
"I didn't prepare anything to say, because I thought that if I did then this would never happen," said Schiavone, who follows compatriot Adriano Panatta, who was men's champion here in 1976, into the Italian record books.
"I felt amazing today. I feel like a champion.
"But I want to say to Samantha that she is a great person. You deserve to be here next time. You are young, you can still do it."
Stosur paid tribute to world number 17 Schiavone, only the fourth player from outside the top 10 to win the Roland Garros title.
"Well done Francesca. You played a great tournament," said the Australian.
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 former world number ones Justine Henin, Serena Williams, against whom she saved a match point, and 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.
Date created : 2010-06-05