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Samantha Stosur was the overwhelming favourite heading into the final of the French Open in 2010, but was second best on the day to a plucky veteran Italian in Francesca Schiavone, who defied the odds to upset the Australian. Two years later, Stosur was on the verge of righting that wrong, but with the match locked at a set apiece and 3-3 in the decider, another Italian, 21st seed Sara Errani, played three near perfect games to swing the tide her way and earn a well deserved spot in her maiden Grand Slam final with a 7-5, 1-6, 6-3 win over the reigning US Open champion.
A delighted Errani shared in her post match press conference that she couldn't believe she was in the final, "No, I didn't think about that never. It's incredible for me. I didn't expect it, and I'm here. So I don't know what to say. For the match I think all was very difficult. Also the first round maybe was the most difficult. So all the matches I played, I'm very happy for how I played because I think I made good games."
The match itself was well contested all the way. Despite a confident start and a comprehensive win in the second set, Stosur made way too many unforced errors and the gutsy Errani was clearly the better player and a deserving finalist. Errani did not lose hope even after a blow out in the second set and was all over the court, hitting terrific winners to take down Stosur.
A relaxed Stosur had an almost perfect start to the match when she broke Errani in the second game to take a 2-0 lead. But Errani broke right back and held her serve to level the score at 2-2. She made it clear that though she was the underdog in this match, she was made of tough stuff. Samâ€™s kick serve was the key for her in the opening set which saw her through till 5-5. The Italian though was moving the ball around and was dominating the shorter rallies. Stosur had notched up more unforced errors in the set and a tight backhand from the Aussie gave Errani a break in the 11th game and an opportunity to serve for the set. And she did just that without a hint of nerves. The Italian had two set points at 40-15 and she clinched the set on the first with a forehand winner into the open court.
The US Open Championâ€™s experience showed in the second set where she outplayed the young Errani. Stosur achieved an early break in the 2nd game to go up 2-0, exactly like the first set but this time she consolidated the break by holding her serve in the third game. Good speed and control on her shots gave the Australian another break in the 4th game before Errani went on to hold her lone service game in the set to avoid a bagel. Stosur created opportunities for herself in the set before she served it out 6-1.
Errani, who was playing in her first Grand Slam semi-final was unfazed about her second set loss. She quickly put it behind her to comeback stronger in the decider. Stosurâ€™s unforced errors kept piling up and the frustration was getting to the world no.6 who quickly fell 3-0 behind in the final set.
But the Aussie was in no mood to give up on her French dream so with the help of some big forehands and a picture perfect backhand (up the line), Sam broke Erraniâ€™s serve on her 4th break point to get the set back on serve.
However, inspite of putting up a brave fight in the 8th game, a double fault and Erraniâ€™s â€˜never say dieâ€™ approach got her the most important break of serve of her life. Throughout the set the Italian worked extremely hard on the big points and worked to get the extra balls in. Her golden moment arrived when she came out to serve for the match at 5-3 and she did it in style! She was up by 40-0 and the good use of her powerful forehand won her the match. Errani fell to the ground in disbelief before bursting into tears.
The Italian will hope for an encore on Saturday when runs into world no.2 Maria Sharapova in the final. Sharapova cruised past Wimbledon Champion Petra Kvitova in straight sets 6-3, 6-3.
Singles - Semifinals
(21) Sara Errani (ITA) d. (6) Samantha Stosur (AUS) 75 16 63
File Photograph Copyright: Porsche Tennis Grand Prix
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