French Open 2011 Finals: Schiavone Plays to Her Expectations of 2010

Alex SandersonCorrespondent IIIJune 4, 2011

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - FEBRUARY 17:  Francesca Schiavone of Italy looks dejected during her Round 3 match against Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia during day four of the WTA Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships at the Dubai Tennis Stadium on February 17, 2011 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Michael Regan/Getty Images

Heading into the 2010 French Open final, Francesca Schiavone was the underdog against Sam Stosur. Stosur's game has more power and she was expected to hit the Italian veteran off the court.

Instead, Schiavone's versatile game combined with Stosur's failure to step up on the big occasion led to the win of a lifetime for Schiavone. She had never even reached a grand slam quarterfinal previously, but now found herself with one of the world's most coveted titles.

This year, Schiavone made another incredible run to the finals in Roland Garros, including an amazing comeback from down a set and two breaks in a match against Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. As one of the few clay-courters left in the women's game, she was the favorite to repeat as the champion.

Instead, Chinese star Li Na accomplished what Stosur was expected to do last year by hitting Schiavone off the court. All of her deep ground-strokes forced Schiavone out of her comfort zone and she was not really in the match for the better part of a set and a half.

The most ironic statistic from the day is that this year's final score of 6-4, 7-6 was the same one as last year, other than Schiavone being on the opposite end of the spectrum. Her strong will and unwillingness to give in kept her in the match, but Li's game was too much for her to handle today.

While Schiavone was unable to achieve her goal of kissing the clay at the end of this tournament, she still has to feel good about her effort in Paris this year. She had not even reached a final of any tournament since last year's French Open, and it's clear that she brings out her best for this tournament.

Today's final was a very good one for the women's game. Not only did a Chinese player win a grand slam singles event for the first time, it was a nicely contested match without nerves playing a major factor for either player.