Francesca Schiavone Wins French Open Title

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PARIS — Francesca Schiavone threw
uppercuts, put her fists to her face, skipped about the court and
laughed at the crowd. And then, when she had won the French Open, she
really let her emotions show.

With the performance of a lifetime,
Schiavone became the first Italian woman to win a Grand Slam title by
beating Samantha Stosur 6-4, 7-6 (2) in the final Saturday.

The tour veteran rallied from a 4-1
deficit in the second set and took the clinching tiebreaker with a
succession of brilliant shots.

When she had won, she fell onto her
back, then rolled over and kissed the clay. She rose covered with dirt,
hugged Stosur and broke into a champion's grin. She then trotted to the
back of the baseline and climbed the wall for a group hug with her
supporters.

At 29, Schiavone (pronounced
Skee-ah-VOH-nay) became the oldest woman to win her first Grand Slam
title since Ann Jones at Wimbledon in 1969 at age 30. She's the first
Italian Grand Slam champion since Adriano Panatta won the French Open
men's title in 1976.

Schiavone was seeded 17th. The only
other time the Roland Garros title has been won by a woman not seeded in
the top 10 was in 1933.

The women's final was the best in
nearly a decade at Roland Garros, and the quality of play climaxed in
the tiebreaker. Schiavone reached match point by hitting four
consecutive winners, the last a lunging backhand volley, and she exulted
after every one.

Schiavone then hit a backhand into the
corner with so much spin it deflected off Stosur's racket, and the real
celebration began.

Both players were first-time Grand
Slam finalists, but there were few signs of jitters. They served well
and held without facing a break point until the ninth game, when Stosur
fell behind love-40. She saved two break points but then double-faulted
for the first time, slapping her thigh in anger after the mistake that
cost her the game.

Schiavone fell behind love-30 in the
next game but rallied, hitting four winners to help her hold and seal
the set. Stosur walked off the court screaming angrily at herself.

Stosur saved two break points and
held to go ahead 2-1 in the second set, then broke for the first time en
route to a 4-1 lead.

Schiavone rallied, losing only four
points in the next three games and taking advantage of several Stosur
errors to reach 4-all. Both players then held to reach the exciting
tiebreaker.

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