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French Open to Have New Women’s Champ as Stosur Faces Schiavone

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Francesca Schiavone celebrates
Francesca Schiavone celebrates winning a game in the women's singles semi final match at Roland Garros. Photographer: Julian Finney/Getty Images

June 4 (Bloomberg) -- Women’s tennis will have a new Grand Slam champion when Samantha Stosur and Francesca Schiavone meet in the French Open final.

Australian No. 7 seed Stosur is the 2-9 favorite at U.K. bookmaker William Hill Plc to win the second major tournament of the year, while Italian Schiavone, the No. 17 seed, is rated a 3-1 chance. It’s the first Grand Slam final for either player.

Stosur continued her run of upsets at Roland Garros by beating No. 4 seed Jelena Jankovic of Serbia 6-1, 6-2 in an hour in the semifinals. Schiavone advanced to the championship match when Russia’s Elena Dementieva quit with a calf muscle tear after the first set, which the Italian won 7-3 in a tiebreaker.

“It was not easy out there,” the 26-year-old Stosur, a semifinalist a year ago in Paris, said in a courtside interview. “I’m very happy, it’s even better than last year.”

Stosur overcame a match point against top seed and 12-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams to advance to the semifinals. She defeated four-time champion and pre-tournament favorite Justine Henin in the fourth round. The last Australian woman to win a Grand Slam singles title was Evonne Goolagong at Wimbledon in 1980.

“If I can keep this form, then I think I’ve got a good shot,” Stosur said.

Just as she did against Williams, Stosur dictated play early in the semifinal. The Australian hit 12 winners, including five aces, in the first set and Jankovic had no winners.

Stosur Pressure

The Serb, playing in her third French Open semifinal, broke Stosur for a 2-0 lead in the second set. The Australian took the next three games, putting Jankovic under pressure with high kick serves and top-spin forehands.

Stosur converted her third break point for a 5-2 lead as another forehand aimed at Jankovic’s backhand forced the mistake. She won on her first match point with a forehand cross-court shot, her 18th winner of the match.

“Samantha played really well,” Jankovic, who produced nine winners, said in a news conference. “I felt heavy on my feet. I didn’t really move out there.”

The 29-year-old Schiavone became the first Italian woman to reach the final of a Grand Slam when Dementieva decided she couldn’t continue.

The Russian, the 2004 French Open runner-up, said at a news conference that she’s been having treatment since tearing her calf in the third round. She said she felt a sharp pain during the first set.

“I aggravated it,” Dementieva said. “It was painful to walk.”

Dementieva said she’ll skip a Wimbledon warm-up at Eastbourne. She said she’s not sure if she can play Wimbledon, which begins June 21 in London.

“I feel very disappointed,” Dementieva said. “But what can I do? Injuries are part of the game.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Danielle Rossingh at Roland Garros in Paris at drossingh@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chris Elser at celser@bloomberg.net

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