Playing in her first WTA semifinal in nearly 18 months (2014, Hong Kong), Schiavone put down four aces and won 84% of points behind her first serve against Martic, herself a former World No.42 who one made the second week of Roland Garros back in 2012.
It had been a difficult start to 2016 for Schiavone, who missed out on a 62nd consecutive Grand Slam main draw appearance when she fell in the second round of qualifying at the Australian Open.
"When I chose Rio, I chose it mainly because it was clay," Schiavone said in her post-match press conference. "I remembered the conditions here being very difficult, so I trained as much as is possible for me to prepare myself on clay to be ready for the heat and the effort.
"Obviously when you come here, you try to prepare as much as you can, but you don't think 'I'm going there to win it,' no, no. It's a wonderful surprise; it's been a long time since I've had this big a result, so I'm taking it as it comes."
Schiavone next plays resurgent American Shelby Rogers. Playing her first WTA main draw since the Coupe Banque Nationale last fall, Rogers ended the excellent adventure of Sorana Cirstea, a former World No.21 who had amassed a 12-1 record heading into the semifinal by reaching back-to-back finals at two Challenger tournaments in Brazil.
"It feels amazing. I've had a really great week, played some good matches," Rogers said in her post-match press conference. "I got a little momentum at the beginning, but this year has been good so far; I've already played a lot of matches, so that's been a big help.
"Winning this many matches in a row and playing very well is definitely a confidence-builder, but I've also had to fight through some tough moments in those matches. Those are where I really get confidence from, so hopefully I can carry that into tomorrow and through the rest of the year."
Rogers won, 6-4, 6-4, and will be playing Schiavone for the first time in what will be her second career WTA final (Schiavone's 18th).
"Rogers is a player I don't know very well," Schiavone said. "But it's going to be interesting. A final is really a 50-50 chance."
In doubles, Veronica Cepede Royg and María Irigoyen captured the doubles final with a 6-1, 7-6(5) win over Tara Moore and Conny Perrin. For Paraguay's Cepede Royg, the Rio Open is her first WTA title of any king, while Irigoyen won her only previous WTA title back in 2014, playing doubles in Rio with Irina-Camelia Begu.
"I want to thank my partner for the amazing week we had here in Rio," Cepede Royg said after the match. "I'm really happy for winning my first WTA title in Rio.:
"This is such an enchanting place and the city is beautiful," Irigoyen added. "I love coming here, people are really receptive and it was a special week."