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2015 French Open

News

 
Serena Battles To Milestone 20th Major

7th June, 2015

PARIS -- After surviving her toughest ever path to a Grand Slam final - four times in six matches she had to fight back from a set down, even coming within three points of defeat in one of those matches - Serena Williams survived another three-setter against giant-killer Lucie Safarova to win her third Grand Slam title in a row, and the milestone 20th Grand Slam title of her career.

Safarova was having the tournament of her life, powering into her first Grand Slam final without even dropping a set, taking out a pair of former champions - Maria Sharapova and Ana Ivanovic - en route.

Serena Williams Serena Williams
Meanwhile, Williams was having the fight of her life time and time again en route to the final, having to rally from a set down four times in six matches, her closest call coming in the fourth round as she was three points from losing against inspired WTA Rising Star Sloane Stephens serving at 1-6, 4-5, 0-15.

And she wasn't out of the woods yet. It looked like it was going to be an easier day at the office for a while - after just over an hour on the court Williams found herself up a set and a double break at 6-3, 4-1, even going up 40-15 in that game - double game point for a seemingly unstoppable 6-3, 5-1 lead.

The match turned in a big way from there. Safarova dug out of that double game point and ended up winning five of the next seven games to push the second set to a tie-break, and after she raced through that tie-break, she raced out to an early 2-0 lead in the third set - Williams was in real danger.

But like she's done so many times in her illustrious career there was one last fightback left, and the No.1-seeded Williams won six games in a row to edge the No.13-seeded Safarova, 6-3, 6-7(2), 6-2.

An elated Williams spoke to the Court Philippe Chatrier crowd afterwards - in French. "It got really complicated today," Williams said. "I was getting a little bit nervous, and Lucie was just playing great. She was a magificent opponent. She was playing very aggressive and she had no fear. To win my 20th Grand Slam title at Roland Garros is very special for me because I haven't always had the most success here. I want to thank all of the fans - it's just a dream that I've won this title."

And when asked to say a few words to her fans at home in English? "Everyone watching back home, thank you for all the support. This is just a dream for me. I love you, I love you, I love you - thank you!"

Williams is the third player in tennis history, male or female, to win 20 majors, after Margaret Court (24) and Steffi Graf (22). She's the first player to win three straight majors since she did it herself during the Serena Slam, when she won four straight between the 2002 French Open and 2003 Australian Open. And she's the first player to win the Australian-French Open double since 2001 (Jennifer Capriati).

She will also extend her lead atop both the WTA Rankings and Road To Singapore leaderboard.

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Schiavone & Kuznetsova's 3:49 epic

28th May, 2015

PARIS -- At the Australian Open in 2011, Francesca Schiavone and Svetlana Kuznetsova battled for four hours and 44 minutes in an absolute grinder, and an historic one at that - it was the longest women's match at a Grand Slam in the Open Era, with Schiavone winning, 6-4, 1-6, 16-14.

And history repeated itself at the 2015 French Open on Thursday, as the veteran pair battled for three hours and 49 minutes out on Court 1 before Schiavone finally pulled it out, 6-7(11), 7-5, 10-8.

It was actually epic from the beginning, with Kuznetsova needing an hour and 22 minutes - longer than many completed matches this week - just to close out the first set in a marathon tie-break, 13-11.

Francesca Schiavone Francesca Schiavone
The No.18-seeded Kuznetsova had her fair share of leads the rest of the match too - she was up 2-0 in the second set before Schiavone fought back to even it at a set apiece, she had early leads of 2-0 and 4-2 in the third set, and served for the match at 5-4 and 6-5, even holding match point that game.

But Schiavone kept clawing back, saving that match point with a daring backhand up the line winner, and with one last volley into the net from Kuznetsova, Schiavone finally had another memorable win.

Kuznetsova praised Schiavone on the match point play. "She went for it. She played an unbelievable shot," the Russian said. "I played a good angle, and to hit a one-handed backhand like that down the line, she totally went for it and all credit to her. It was unbelievable. There was nothing I could do."

It was the third-longest women's match at Roland Garros in the Open Era. Virginie Buisson beat Noelle Van Lottum in four hours and seven minutes first round in 1995, 6-7(3), 7-5, 6-2, and Kerry Melville Reid beat Pam Teeguarden in three hours and 55 minutes in the third round in '72, 7-6(7), 4-6, 16-14.

Both Schiavone and Kuznetsova are former champions at Roland Garros, Kuznetsova winning here in 2009 and Schiavone in 2010. But in many ways it was a big upset - not only had Kuznetsova won nine of their previous 14 meetings, but she's also in a much better place in her career right now, recently reaching the final of the Premier Mandatory-level event in Madrid, and coming here ranked No.18.

Schiavone, meanwhile, came to Paris having lost seven of her last eight matches and ranked No.92. But she's coming alive at her very best tournament - she had lost first round at the last seven majors.

"I don't know how much of it is magic, or how much of it is working and just keeping going, and believing in something that looks so far away but it's so close," Schiavone said. "I feel like every match for me is great history now. Doesn't matter where I am. Doesn't matter the score. Everything is a bonus for me now. I'm just living like this, that's all. I'm here in the third round, and I'll try to keep going."

She will be the favorite in her next one, too, as she faces No.100-ranked Andreea Mitu, who came from a set and a break down to beat No.12-seeded WTA Rising Star Karolina Pliskova, 2-6, 7-6(5), 6-4.

Schiavone and Mitu will be playing against each other for the first time.

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Kvitova, Kuznetsova tested at French Open

26th May, 2015

PARIS -- Petra Kvitova and Svetlana Kuznetsova were women's winners Tuesday at the French Open, but the former Grand Slam champions were each tested in their openers at Roland Garros.

Kvitova, the fourth seed and a two-time Wimbledon champ, gutted out a 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 win over New Zealand's Marina Erakovic, while Kuznetsova, the 2009 French Open champ and 2006 runner-up, also went the distance in a 6-1, 4-6, 6-2 triumph over Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands.

Kuznetsova, seeded 18th this year, has reached the quarterfinals each of the last two years in Paris. She avoided what would have been a fourth straight first-round exit at a major, having been eliminated in her openers at this year's Australian Open and last year's U.S. Open and Wimbledon.

Kvitova, meanwhile, has struggled on the famed red clay in the French capital. She has advanced past the fourth round just once in six previous visits with a semifinal appearance in 2012. The Czech star did win a French Open tune-up on clay earlier this spring, beating Serena Williams in the semifinals and Kuznetsova in the title match at Madrid.

The top-seeded Williams, a two-time French Open champ, will open her Paris fortnight later today against Czech veteran Andrea Hlavackova.

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Roland Garros Women's Draw Preview

22nd May, 2015

PARIS -- Part-time Paris resident Serena Williams knows navigating through the terre battue can be a challenge under the best conditions. Playing for a 20th Grand Slam championship, the world No. 1 faces a French Open draw that, on paper, looks as daunting as a hurdling the Arc de Triomphe.

In reality, if the reigning U.S. Open and Australian Open champion works her way through the first week, she should be strengthened for another title run. Two-time champion Serena plays a qualifier in her opener. The degree of difficulty could rise dramatically in a possible third-round clash against former No. 1 Victoria Azarenka, who held three match points over Williams in Madrid before the Belarusian's serve completely collapsed sparking the top seed's rally. Should Williams prevail in the rematch, she could face 15th-seeded sister Venus Williams or compatriot Sloane Stephens in a potential all-American fourth-round match.

Since storming to the Indian Wells final, Jelena Jankovic has managed to make just one quarterfinal, retiring against Stephens in Strasbourg, But if Jankovic can regain full health, defend her suspect second serve and play with positive energy rather than delve into the drama queen antics she sometimes produces under pressure, the three-time French Open semifinalist could surprise in this quarter that features fellow former No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki as a possible third-round opponent for the Serbian, former finalist Sara Errani and No. 10 seed Andrea Petkovic.

First Quarterfinal Prediction: (1) Serena Williams vs. (25) Jelena Jankovic

Two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova can veer from explosive to erratic, but she showed her clay-court skills beating a pair of former French Open champions - world No. 1 Serena and Svetlana Kuznetsova - en route to the Madrid title. The 2012 French Open semifinalist is one of the few women aside from Williams who can dictate play on both serve and return and she enjoys a favorable draw.

Kuznetsova, who beat Kvitova in Paris last year, can emotionally implode under pressure, but the 2009 champion has been a fervent competitor in the City of Light reaching at least the quarters in seven of her last nine appearances. Sveta is a threat in a section of the draw that includes some talented young players in No. 6 Eugenie Bouchard, No. 12 Karolina Pliskova and No. 16 Madison Keys.

Second Quarterfinal Prediction: (4) Petra Kvitova vs. (18) Svetlana Kuznetsova

Simona Halep came within a set of winning Roland Garros last June, but the Indian Wells champion has not advanced to a clay-court final this season. Still, the Romanian is the class of this quarter and has reached at least the quarterfinals in four of her last five Grand Slam starts.

Former French Open champion Ana Ivanovic will be pumped to recapture the magic in Paris, but could run into nemesis Caroline Garcia in a third-round rematch of their 2014 French Open first-round clash. The 31st-seeded Frenchwoman is 3-0 against Ivanovic this season.

Third Quarterfinal Prediction: (31) Caroline Garcia vs. (3) Simona Halep

Sharapova's opening opponent, Kaia Kanepi, is a powerful baseliner who can be dangerous. However Sharapova swept Kanepi, 6-2, 6-3, in the 2012 Roland Garros quarterfinals and has won eight of the nine sets they've played.

Rome runner-up Carla Suarez Navarro is a two-time French Open quarterfinalist, who has reached at least the quarters in 10 of her 11 tournaments this season.

Fourth Quarterfinal Prediction: (2) Maria Sharapova vs. (8) Carla Suarez Navarro

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