June 08, 2012 | 06:06 AM
When Stosur went out to a 3-0 lead on Errani, it was easy to think this match would be over before the Italian could get started - Sam is that good a front runner. Two games later, after Errani held and broke at love, any thoughts of a one-sided semi-final were dead.
The two battled for each game to 5-5, holding serve. At 4-4, Stosur had fallen behind 15-40 but hit two aces to deuce and saved the game with her serve. Two games later she found herself at 15-40 again, but playing two tough points and bringing it back to deuce wasn't enough: an error just long with a backhand and a missed volley on her body gave up the break. Errani smelled weakness and went after her shots to earn double set point and close it out.
Sam kept going for her shots and, fortunately for her, found the range with her forehand. Her opponent also slipped enough for Sam to get on top 5-0 in the second, and close it out 6-1. But Errani wouldn't go away or make it easy for Sam - what was enough in the 2nd wouldn't be enough in the 3rd.
The winds also picked up in the 3rd, to Errani's benefit - the mechanical Stosur ground strokes require time to set up in order to go for winners. In order to avoid the longer points favored her opponent by almost 2 to 1, Sam went for too much with her backhand, which is not designed to be a weapon. Errani went out to a 3-0 love lead, but Stosur came back to 3-3, fighting off break points at 2-3.
At 3-3, Errani won at love, and then Stosur made three mental mistakes that put her down 15-40. Going for winners paid off to get her to deuce, but a double-fault and an error gave Errani the break. At 5-3 Sara went up 40-0, and closed it with a forehand winner to reach her first Major singles final along with her second straight doubles final. Paris seems to be the event for Italian women. Regardless of her success in the final, Errani will find herself ranked in the top 10 next week.
In her career to date, the 25 year old has:
- won 7 singles events (all on clay)
- won 19 doubles events, and reached the finals of the Australian Open in 2012
She's also been a member of the winning Fed Cup team for Italy between 2008 and 2012.
And on Saturday, she;ll face the woman who will be the third #1 woman this year, Sharapova.
Maria may not mind be a favorite as much as Stosur seemed to, and is a huge favorite. Sara's already won two singles titles with matching doubles titles this year, and beaten two top 10 players this week, so it's doubtful she'll be overwhelmed by the occasion.
Kvitova was no match for Maria today, spraying forehands and backhands around the court as if she was hanging on to a fire hose trying to get water down before the clay dust all blew away in the winds. Aside from showing a little fire and some of her power when she was angered by a poor call in the 2nd set, she failed to run off many points or games in a row, losing 3-6, 3-6.
David Ferrer seemed like the obvious candidate to reach the semis with the top three: 19 of his 29 career finals and 8 of his 14 titles have been on clay. Without Rafa, he might have cleaned up on the Mediterranean circuit, at least in all the events without Joker/Fed (he lost 5 titles to Rafa, including Barcelona 4 times).
But in 9 previous French Opens he's never done better than reach the quarters. In 2005 he lost to Rafa in 3 sets, and in 2008 he lost to Monfils in 4 sets in the quarters. Monfils? Yes - the Frenchman owns a 3-0 record against David, with one of his other wins at Roland Garros last year in the round of 16. Rafa has only played him that once in Paris, and David's never lost to anyone else higher ranked than Monfils.
And yet it feels like he is second to only the top 3 on clay. His winning percentage on clay this year (.829) is second only to Rafa's (.964), slightly better than Roger's and Joker's. Murray, Tsonga, Berdych and Del Potro can not compare records with him on clay.
Too bad his being second only to Rafa in statistics on clay buys him no greater chance of an upset tomorrow.
Fed v Joker
For a good comparison of their numbers in their 5 matches so far, go to: