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Chance of a Lifetime:  Schiavone Stumps Stosur to Win French Open

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Chance of a Lifetime: Schiavone Stumps Stosur to Win French Open

Nothing is impossible!  This was the phrase on the t-shirt worn by Francesca Schiavone’s family and friends today in the French Open final.  Schiavone proved the axiom by surprising Samantha Stosur 6-4, 7-6 to grab her first career major.  Moreover, Schiavone stenciled her name in history by becoming the first Italian female to prevail at a major.

With eight first serves leading to two love games, Stosur was on a tear to open the first set.  Still, Schiavone had no trouble keeping up, connecting on an ace to level things at 2 all.  Subsequently, with a deep return, Schiavone provoked Stosur into a forehand error for love-30.   However, with her saving grace, the serve, Stosur battled back and capped the game with a forehand down the line winner for 3-2.  Using her all court game, especially the volley, Schiavone stayed in touch with Stosur.  The pivotal point arrived at 4 a piece.  By pushing her rival into three uncomfortable shots which misfired, Schiavone manufactured triple break point.  After Stosur salvaged two, she double faulted on the third to give Schiavone a 5-4 advantage.  By climbing out of love-30 with an ace and forehand crosscourt winner, Schiavone set up a second set point with a backhand volley winner.  When Stosur netted the backhand, Schiavone claimed the first set.

With a deep and low backhand pass, Schiavone caused Stosur to hit the next stroke long.  As a result, the Italian had double break point in third game of the second set.  However, with a three winners and an unreturnable serve, Stosur guarded serve for 2-1.  Then, by punishing second serves, Stosur had her first break point of the day with a forehand up the line winner. Stosur capitalized when Schiavone’s forehand up the line failed.  Promptly, Stosur consolidated with a love game for 4-1.  Following a quick hold, Schiavone produced a backhand return winner crosscourt, a forehand winner and made Stosur err with the backhand to arrive at love-40.  Later, by stabbing at a superb serve, Schiavone got a miscue on a short forehand from Stosur to get back on serve at 3-4.  Despite the mounting pressure, Schiavone remained aggressive and comfortably maintained serve.  Eventually, the set was settled in a tiebreaker.  Schiavone secured a mini-break for 3-2 by tracking Stosur’s dropshot and converting a backhand up the line winner.  The Italian extended her lead to 5-2 with a forehand volley winner and forehand crosscourt winner.  Subsequently, with a crosscourt backhand volley winner, Schiavone obtained a second mini-break and four championship points.  When Stosur’s stroke off the return traveled out of play, Schiavone bagged the second set and the French Open trophy.  Schiavone rejoiced by painting her lips red with a clay kiss, duplicating this jubilant sign she had shown in the quarters and semis.

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The Apple of New York’s Eyes: Clijsters Triumphs Over Wozniacki at US Open

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The Apple of New York’s Eyes: Clijsters Triumphs Over Wozniacki at US Open

mdp_1588This was not the script that one would have written two weeks ago.  Fortunately for us, Kim Clijsters had her own pen for a rewrite.  A couple of months after getting back on tour, Clijsters reached the U.S. Open final and defeated 19 year-old Caroline Wozniacki 7-5, 6-3 becoming the first wildcard entry to win a major.

Although this was Wozniacki’s first final at a major, the Dane almost pulled off the role of spoiler. After Caroline dropped serve her first time out to give Kim a 2-0 lead, on her fifth break chance, she captured her first game.  Then through her tenacity, Wozniacki compelled a crosscourt backhand error from Kim to break for a  3-2 edge. After teetering on the brink, Wozniacki double faulted to level the set at 4 all.  However, the very next game, Caroline’s defensive skills helped her rally from 0-40 and break again for 5-4.  But, serving for the set, Wozniacki faced another break point when Clijsters produced a forehand winner.  The Dane was unable to exterminate that one as her forehand up the line sailed long and evened out the set.  Unable to capitalize on two break chances, Wozniacki subsequently made four unforced errors to wrap up the set for Clijsters.

After being miserly the first five games of the second set, with neither woman dealing with a break point, two forehand winners and a backhand mistake by Wozniacki provided Clijsters triple break point.  When Caroline’s backhand landed long, Clijsters went ahead 4-2.  Then, after staring at 0-30, Kim made a couple of good serves and winners which permitted her to consolidate for 5-2.  Despite a tough hold, Wozniacki forced Clijsters to serve for the championship. A tad nervous perhaps, Kim made two forehand booboos to go down 0-30.  Once Clijsters regrouped, with an ace and two forehand winners, she closed out the set to claim her second major and U.S. Open title.

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