Finally, Francesca! Schiavone Wins First Title
Published July 29, 2007 12:00
BAD GASTEIN, Austria - With one last volley winner and an audible cry of "Si!", Francesca Schiavone finally earned her first Sony Ericsson WTA Tour singles title in Bad Gastein on Sunday, beating Yvonne Meusburger in front of her home crowd for the Gastein Ladies title. It was a long time coming for the Italian, who had been winless in eight finals.
Schiavone was the craftier player on Sunday, using angles and drop shots to perfection on the red clay and jumping out to a 61 31 lead against Meusburger. Meusburger's flat ground game started hitting the mark as Schiavone was seemingly tightening up, with the Austrian winning three straight games to move ahead 4-3 in the second set; but the top seed wasn't about to let her ninth chance slip, and she won, 61 64.
"She started playing much better in the second set, and I said to myself, 'If she's going to play like this then I'll raise my level too, and if she beats me like that then that's okay,'" Schiavone said. "But I never thought about maybe losing the ninth final. You just have to focus point by point and not think about the past or future, just the present. When I hit that last shot, I had strong emotions."
"I was really happy to play the final," Meusburger said. "I was a little bit nervous, but I played a really great match and had a lot of fun. I kept fighting and always believed I could win, but at the end she was really strong and fighting too."
The Gastein Ladies title puts an end to Schiavone's dubious finals record, which included three championship match losses in each of the last two seasons.
"The most important thing for me is to enjoy this. I don't care if it's a Tier I, Tier II, Tier III or Tier 10, it's my first title," the Italian joked. "I don't care about which tournament it is, just that for the first time I've finally won a title."
Schiavone had been struggling for form prior to her week in Austria, going 14-15 on the season coming in and winning back-to-back matches just twice in reaching the quarterfinals of Doha and the third round of Roland Garros. But the former world No.11 walks away from this event 19-15 and a Top 30 player once again.
Meusburger was the darling of the tournament, upsetting three seeds, including Schiavone's projected final opponent, No.2 seed Emilie Loit, en route to her first Tour singles final. The run was her first time to reach even a quarterfinal on the Tour.
"She was playing very tough and had a wonderful week, but I am happy because I also had a very good week," said the Austrian, who was bidding to become the ninth Austrian in Tour history to win a singles title. "I've learned a lot from this match. I just want to keep playing as many matches as I can and have fun."
Czech pair Lucie Hradecka and Renata Voracova took home the doubles honors Sunday, with a 63 75 championship victory over top seeds Agnes Szavay and Vladimira Uhlirova. The No.3 seeds were pushed to match tie-breaks in their first two rounds but cruised through their ultimate two rounds in straight sets. Szavay was coming off her career-first Tour singles title in Palermo, and had also made a singles quarterfinal run here, falling to Schiavone.
The Gastein Ladies, held on the red clay courts of Stubnerkogel, was making its inaugural appearance as a Tour stop this year.