PARIS: Italy’s Sara Errani crushed the French Open hopes of Samantha Stosur of Australia on Thursday, reaching her first Grand Slam final with a 7-5, 1-6, 6-3 win.
In Saturday’s championship match, the 21st seed will go up against Russia’s Maria Sharapova, who beat Petra Kvitova 6-3, 6-3. The win also meant that Sharapova reclaimed the number one spot in the rankings.Sharapova is now just one match away from fulfilling her dream of completing a career grand slam and will be favourite to become the newest member of the Roland Garros champions’ club on Saturday.
The swirling winds on Philippe Chatrier Court made life difficult for both players initially, with Sharapova facing break points on both of her opening service games but it was Kvitova who blinked first. The Czech left-hander’s forehand started to misfire badly and she surrendered the first set after dropping her serve in the fifth game. Kvitova fought back from 1-3 down in the second set to level at 3-3 but Sharapova kept on pounding winners from the baseline to break for 5-3 before wrapping up the one-sided contest in 77 minutes with an ace.
If Errani triumphs on Saturday she will be only the second Italian woman to win the French Open, two years after Francesca Schiavone’s breakthrough triumph and the first player ranked outside the world top 20 to win in Paris since 1976. US Open champion Stosur had won her five previous encounters against Errani going into the match. After an 80-minute rain delay, the players got the first of the day’s semis underway in bright sunshine and it was the 28-year-old Australian who settled in fastest. A comfortable service hold to open was followed by a first break of serve with her trademark top-spin forehand again doing most of the damage.
Errani knew she had to vary her shot-making to try and unsettle her stronger opponent and she did so with great effect in the next game, drawing a rash of errors from the sixth seed which ended in a break of serve to love. The Italian promptly held to love to level at 2-2 in what had quickly turned into a clash of contrasting styles. Serves were held comfortably until the 11th game when Stosur again lost her touch and timing, netting an easy volley at the net on the third break point to Errani. The 21st-seeded Italian served out to take the first set. Stosur struggled to hold serve at the start of the second set as Errani continued to run her ragged at times with her angled and varied shot-making, but it was the Australian who bagged the first break in the next game.
That set off a run of five games in a row for the US Open champion as she began to use her power to outgun her Italian opponent. Stosur put away the set 6-1.The momentum switched again though at the start of the deciding set as Stosur started to misfire on serve and with her groundstrokes. Errani moved 3-0 up, only for Stosur to break back and level at 3-3. With the wind getting up, the outcome of what had been a topsy-turvy match was on a knife-edge and, at 3-4 down, Stosur ceded serve once again, saving two break points, only to hit a forehand long and wide on a third. Errani served out for the biggest win of her career. – Dailytimes