Sam's Singles Breakthrough
Published October 18, 2009 12:00
OSAKA, Japan - Samantha Stosur finally put an end to a dubious finals jinx in Osaka on Sunday, beating Francesca Schiavone for her very first singles title on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour at the HP Open.
Before this week, Stosur's Tour résumé was about as complete as any, apart from one thing. She had 22 titles and the No.1 ranking in doubles and a large collection of Top 10 wins in singles, making it as high as No.13 herself. But that first singles title continued to elude her, even though she had been a win away many times, going 0-5 in finals. But that all changed in Osaka.
Seeded No.3, Stosur didn't drop a set en route to the semis, then pulled off the upset of the week, ousting No.1 seed Caroline Wozniacki, 60 46 64. Perhaps more impressive that the win itself was the way she did it: after winning the first eight games of the match she watched as Wozniacki got back into it; but the Australian held her nerve and eventually closed out the world No.6.
"I played very well in the first set and barely made a mistake - I was still playing well in the second and nearly led 4-1 but she got back into the match," Stosur said. "I just told myself not to panic, keep doing the same things as I did in the first set and stay positive. I tried to do what I wanted to do and not let anything frustrate me. Obviously I'm pleased to bring it back and close it out."
Schiavone, the No.4 seed, had a three-setter en route to the final too, beating Chan Yung-Jan in the quarters, 63 06 63. During that match she had the opposite of Stosur's experience, losing eight straight games herself to drop the second set and trail 2-0 in the decider; but she regrouped to prevail.
Neither Stosur nor Schiavone were known for their finals records, the Australian, as already mentioned, going 0-5, and the Italian going 1-9 in her career, winning her lone title at Bad Gastein in 2007. But on the day it was sixth time lucky for Stosur, who grabbed the first break of the match in the last game of the first set and confidently cruised through the second set for a 75 61 championship win.
"I'm very, very pleased to win my first title after losing five previous finals," Stosur said. "It has been a personal goal for a while, so I'm glad to have achieved it and it's the perfect way to finish my year in singles. My next goal is to reach the Top 10, for which I would need to play like today every day."
Stosur is now 4-1 lifetime against Schiavone, losing their first match but winning their last four, all in straight sets, no less.
"The first set was very close, but she took her chances and deserved to win," Schiavone said. "I gave her nothing for free. She won every point."
Top seeds Chuang Chia-Jung and Lisa Raymond won the doubles title with a 62 64 win over unseeded pairing Chanelle Scheepers and Abigail Spears. Chuang collected her 13th career doubles title on the Tour; Raymond picked up an impressive 68th, although it was her first of the season.
"It feels great to finish the year with a win," Raymond said. "It has been a great week and a lot of fun to play with CJ. It was a great final and thanks to all of the fans for coming out to watch the doubles matches throughout the week."
"It's very exciting to win," Chuang said. "I'm very happy to play with Lisa. She's a great partner and we had a great week."