2010 French Open Coverage
Day Fourteen Thoughts
- MEN'S SINGLES
- WOMEN'S SINGLES
- MEN'S DOUBLES
- WOMEN'S DOUBLES
- MIXED DOUBLES
- BOYS' SINGLES
- GIRLS' SINGLES
- BOYS' DOUBLES
- GIRLS' DOUBLES
- WHEELCHAIR BRACKETS
Just today and tomorrow left, the outlying courts were retired once again at Roland Garros as all the remaining play moved onto the two show courts -- Court Philippe Chatrier and Court Suzanne Lenglen -- and Court 2. Fans who went out to the least-heralded of the three were treated to a couple of doubles finals featuring some of the younger stars of the sport who might just be there a couple years down the line taking on the Soderlings and Schiavones and Stosurs of the respective men's and women's tours. Juniors tennis has spawned many of the game's stars -- at the French Open alone, players who have won the juniors title and have gone on to win the main draw have included Ivan Lendl, Justine Henin, Mats Wilander, Hana Mandlikova, Ken Rosewall and Jennifer Capriati.
So as the four girls competing in the girls' doubles final -- the #5 team of Hungarian Timea Babos and American Sloane Stephens against the unseeded all-Spanish partnership of Lara Arruabarrena-Vecino and Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor -- took to Court 2, the only risk we were really taking was that we'd catch some great tennis and perhaps get a jump on recognizing one of the stars of the future. In this affair, the greatness all seemed to come from one side of the net. Babos and Stephens made the score look lopsided from the outset, grabbing a couple of key breaks in the first to take the 6-2 lead in less than a half-hour. By the end of it, when the second set was completed 6-3 and the match was over in just 64 minutes, it was hard to believe that just eight points separated these two teams by the end of the match. It was a stirring display from the Hungarian-American partnership; perhaps we'll see them taking on the Williams sisters or Huber and Garrigues or any of the other elite women's doubles teams in the main draw next year.
Right on their heels came the boys' doubles final. It was another David-and-Goliath battle, one featuring an all-South American field as the unseeded tandem of Argentinians Facundo Arguello and Agustin Velotti (the latter of which will be in the boys' singles final tomorrow) went up against the #7-seeded parnership of Duilio Beretta of Peru and Roberto Quiroz of Ecuador. Like their female counterparts, the favorites spared no time in taking the initiative. Beretta and Quiroz needed just 54 minutes to engineer a 6-3 6-2 victory over the Argentinians, preventing Velotti from the opportunity to become just the third young man (after countryman Guillermo Perez-Roldan in 1986 and Chile's Fernando Gonzalez in 1998) to win both a junior singles and junior doubles championship in the same year.
Beretta and Quiroz were no less efficient in their cold-blooded execution in the junior final than their adult counterparts Nenad Zimonjic and Daniel Nestor were in wresting the men's doubles final away from the defending champions, Leander Paes and Lukas Dlouhy, over on Court Philippe Chatrier. Nestor and Zimonjic started slowly, warming up into the match, as both sides held their serve through the first ten games of the opening set. Then, getting the break they needed just before a tiebreak would have become necessary, the Canadian and the Serb closed out the first set in 40 minutes by serving out to a 7-5 conclusion. Suitably warmed up, they wasted no more time, closing out Paes and Dlouhy with two more service breaks to finish a 7-5 6-2 championship match which lasted just 65 minutes.
Of course, though, the biggest story in the eyes of the world (and one that will be a headlier in tomorrow's La Gazzetta dello Sport, for sure) was the victory by unlikely winner Francesca Schiavone over Australian Samantha Stosur in the women's singles final. Schiavone, who knocked out Australian Open semifinalist Li Na and quarterfinalist Maria Kirilenko just to reach the quarterfinals and before taking on her trifecta of top-ten players (#3 Caroline Wozniacki, #5 Elena Dementieva and #7 Stosur) to win the tournament, became with her 6-4 7-6(2) conquest the first Italian woman ever to win a Grand Slam tournament.
Both women looked determined from the outset, neither having been to a Grand Slam final before and both realizing that this was a chance that might not come anytime soon again. Holding their serve through the first eight games, the tennis was of the highest quality. On the ninth game of the first set, Stosur serving, Schiavone seized her opening. Winning the first three points, she set up a triple break point. Stosur staved off the first two, forcing Schiavone to hit long on the first and seeing her get an unlucky clip of the net which sent the 15-40 ball wide. The third break point was the charm for the Italian, as Stosur did something she would do just once in the entire match -- double fault on her serve. That costly error handed Schiavone the break, and she served out the set to win it 6-4 in 40 minutes.
The second set was a battle of attrition. Stosur looked like she had a chance to get back into the match when she broke Schiavone's serve to go up 3-1. The Aussie would consolidate her break in the next game; but after Schiavone regained her composure to hold her next serve, she pounced on another triple break point to get back even in the set. Stosur served up her third (and what would be her final) ace of the match to ward off the first break point... but Schiavone got the benefit of a Stosur mishit on an inside-out forehand to level it back up. From that point, there would be four more games where serve was held, taking it into the tiebreak. There, Schiavone outclassed her youner counterpart, getting a mini-break early on Stosur's serve and then earning four championship points. This time, rather than offering the Aussie a couple of points back as she had in both her breaks, the Italian closed out her historic performance on the first try as Stosur hit a backhand errantly and handed over the title.
It was a moment for the record books. Finally, after decades of futility, an Italian woman had conquered a Grand Slam. How fitting that it would come on clay, as that most-enduring venue of Italian tennis, the Foro Italico, is surfaced in the same fashion. Schiavone, with her unprecedented run through some of tennis' best women en route to her victory, impressed all along the way and reminded us that even the most overlooked of dark-horses can be dangerous -- no matter the size of the stage...