Let's start with the first semi which saw Francesca Schiavone reach her first ever Grand Slam final when Elena Dementieva retired with the recurrence of the left calf injury she sustained during her second round match with the score at 7-6 (3) in favor of Fran.
The pair played their tried-and-true games: the Russian blasted groundies and worked to control the center of the court while the Italian played D until she had a ball she could pummel with heavy topspin. However, the injury was already taking its toll and once Fran took the set Elena called it quits - the first time in 43 major appearances.
Fran was asked about this surge so late in her career:
Q. Okay. Second one: Is why is that success coming so late for you?
FRANCESCA SCHIAVONE: Why late? I think everybody are different. Could be late for you, could be good for you. I think it's my time now. Maybe before I wasn't ready.
Maybe before I had the chance I didn't catch, so I think now I have just to live and to keep going to work like I did for many years.
Q. What are your chances for the final? You think you can win the final on Saturday?
FRANCESCA SCHIAVONE: I don't know. I really don't know, but I'm really happy to be here. I will go on the court and I will fight at the best that I will do it, that I can do.
Now is time to relax, and Saturday will be the time to put everything that I work until now.
She made JJ look like an amateur out there with her big game yet calm, quiet demeanor - a silent killer if you will. The Serb never had the opportunity to use her backhand into Sammie's weaker backhand because of the 7th seed's ability to run around and hit her forehand and control points. JJ was left scrambling and hitting off balance - a perfect recipe for unforced errors (22 UEs against only 9 winners.)
So what's the biggest difference in the Aussie's game is now versus a few years ago? She told the press:
Oh, I think it's a lot of things. It's not just one aspect. My fitness and strength is something I've been working on for probably a good five years very seriously. That hasn't been an overnight process. And, you know, really understanding my game and how to use it and my strengths and weaknesses and all that, I've got a lot better at understanding everything that I can do over the last few years a lot better.
And then self belief and starting to win big matches. So I think it's a combination of lots of things all coming together.
So it's Sam vs. Fran and their new fangled and apparently effective Babolat black RPM Blast String for the whole damn thing (incidentally, just got my racquet strung with these babies!) I mean, WHO WUDDA THUNK IT? And if you say "me" then you're a liar, except for Van Sias who somehow picked the Italian to make the final in his VANtage Point post.
I raise my glass of sangria to you, sir. Cheers!
[Photo(s): Getty Images]