Stosur Smashes Her Way Into The French Open Finals

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Australia’s Sam Stosur has had quite the spring 2010 with a win at Family Circle Cup and the best record on clay in women’s professional tennis, she now stands one step away from her first singles Grand Slam win. The road on the red clay of Roland Garros has been hard fought with tough match ups leading up to Saturday’s final.

Round one saw Stosur take a few games before getting into a grove in the late unseasonal hot sun of Paris to beat Romanian Simona Halep 7-5, 6-1. Then it was on to play fellow Oakley eyewear athlete Rossana De Los Rios from Paraguay, where she lost her first set of the tournament, but regained composure to win 4-6, 6-1, 6-0. The third round match was more of a warm up of things to come as she took down Russia’s Anastasia Pivovarova 6-3, 6-2.

Round four presented Sam’s strongest opponent yet, four-time French Open Champion Justine Henin from Belgium. The match was a slugfest of sorts with Sam coming out on top 2-6, 6-1, 6-4.

“Obviously, beating Justine is going to give me lots and lots of confidence for the next match,” said Stosur, a French Open semifinalist in 2009 and a tour-best 18-2 on clay this year. “That’s obviously a great achievement for me.”

World number one Serena Williams was next up for Sam, who owned a 3-1 record against Stosur leading up to the match. In what might turn out to be the match of the tournament, Sam and Serena matched shot for shot to push the match deep into a hard fought third set.

With solid ground strokes, including a dominating forehand and outstanding second serve, Slammin’ Sam worked her way to 5-3, 30-all in the second set – two points from victory, and with serve.

“I got nervous, tight,’’ she said, avoiding the word choke. It looked like a total collapse, Serena pulling herself together to win the tiebreaker, and win the first game of the final set.

Sam faced a match point at 4-5, but clawed her way back to push the set past the usual tiebreaker point of 6-6. Where she broke Serena to serve out the match with a very crafty backhand. Sam would serve out the match with relative ease considering the course of the hard fought match had taken her and Serena.

“I was never so glad to see a ball go long,’’ Stosur said with a grin, recalling her own match point.

Setting up Stosur with her second consecutive French Open semifinal in two years. Her next opponent was world number four from Serbia, Jelena Jankovic. The match was toted as a tough one on paper, but it would go down as Sam’s easiest win all tournament with a 6-1, 6-2 victory on Philippe Chartier Court in front of a sold out crowd.

Saturday’s final pit two players most may not have expected in a Grand Slam final, but that is what makes the French Open unlike any other major, the red clay is truly the greatest equalizer. Italy’s own Francesca Schiavone will be the only thing standing between Sam Stosur and her first singles Grand Slam victory.

Match begins at 9am EST, Saturday on NBC in the USA and ESPN3.com online.