Francesca Schiavone, the 17th seed, played the match of her life when she defeated 7th seed Sam Stosur 6-4, 7-6 (2) to win the Roland Garros ladies' championship - her first major - and become the first Italian woman to win a Grand Slam evah. Brava!
The 29-year old's tremendous play was evident in her stats: 65% first serve, 63% won on second serves, 6 aces (compared to 3 for the big-serving Aussie), 26 winners/19 errors and 14 of 15 net approaches. But what you can't see on the stat sheet is the sheer determination, fearlessness and will to win that was beaming in the Italian's game not only in this match but the last few as well. Interestingly, Fran always came in as the underdog but strutted around the court as if she were the favorite and her foes were guests on her court. Fake it 'til you make it - and she did.
She also proved what I tweeted way back in Round 1 when 39-year old Kimiko Date Krumm upset Dinara Safina: Tennis is much more about a clear head and a big heart than anything else. She had those qualities and then some today.
Afterwards the newly crowned champ was asked to describe what this win meant to her:
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.And what about the t-shirts her supporters were wearing in her baller box that read 'Schiavone: Nothing is Impossible'?
The true is that I don't know, because they arrived this morning really, always with the car, and I saw them when I finish. So now I don't know. And they are leaving, so I don't think I will know this until two or three days.As for Sam she was clearly and understandably distraught after losing a golden opportunity to grab her first major and enter tennis history as a Grand Slam singles champ. But she never looked comfortable out there even letting her frustrations come to the surface after being so stoic and "flatline" as Darren Cahill described her on court. And her 'A' game, which flowed so beautifully in the last few round as she glided around the court crushing forehand after forehand, went on walkabout. The Aussie was definitely feeling the moment and weight of being the fave - a role she never played when she upset Justine Henin, Serena Williams and Jelena Jankovic.
It's a different kind of pressure but one she'll need to embrace if she wants to break through. Luckily for Sam she's 26-years old and entering her prime playing years. She'll have more opportunities and, if she learns from this experience, will no doubt be raising her own championship trophy.
But for now let's celebrate Fran's awesome win!!!
[Photo(s): Getty Images, Reuters, AP]