By Melinda Samson, Special for Tennis Grandstand
Coming into their semifinal match of the French Open, Sam Stosur had a winning record against Italian Sara Errani. In their five previous meetings, Stosur hadn’t allowed Errani much room, winning all five times, including a straight sets win on clay during the second round of the Rome Masters in May.
It was Errani’s first time ever reaching a Grand Slam semifinal, and Stosur’s third already at Roland Garros. What was meant to be an easy win for the Australian turned into an all-out three set battle. Errani’s best results to-date had been three title wins in Acapulco, Barcelona and Budapest. But by beating Stosur and reaching the final at Roland Garros, Errani will become the new Italian number one player next Monday when the rankings are updated.
Errani was well prepared for the match, saying “I don’t have too much power so I have to think more…I have to make other things maybe with the head … I have to be fast – I have to be resistant.”
The match began just over an hour late due to a rain delay, but proceeded uninterrupted after the first ball hit.
Stosur won her first serve then broke Errani’s serve but was immediately broken back. Both players then held serve until 5-5 when Errani converted her fourth break point, given her the opportunity to serve for the set at 6-5. Despite Stosur stepping up her level of play, Errani held her ground, won the game and took the set 7-5.
In the second set, Stosur faced a break point on her first service game. It was an important game for her to hold in order to avoid being down a set and a break. After winning her serve, Stosur relaxed and won the next four games. She had a set point on Errani’s third service game but Errani came back with a winner and held her serve, so that Stosur had to serve it out, which she did at 6-1.
Although it was expected that Stosur would capitalise on the momentum from her second set win, the third set was a complete contrast. Stosur’s errors helped Errani win the next three games and bring the score to 3-0. Stosur regained control and got the set back on serve at 3-3 but then wavered again and lost her next service game, giving Errani the opportunity to serve for the set at 5-3. Errani was quickly ahead 40-0 and converted on her first match point.
With the win, Errani will move in to the Top 10 of the WTA Tour Rankings for the first time in her career. She will play veteran Maria Sharapova in the Roland Garros final this weekend.
Melinda Samson is attending Roland Garros and has written updates on Australian players through their trek of the tennis world’s second slam. She also manages the website Grand Slam Gal and is attempting to do the fan version of a tennis grand slam in 2012. Follow her on Twitter for further live updates @GrandSlamGal.