French Open - Schiavone through to first final

Eurosport - Thu, 03 Jun 14:29:00 2010

Francesca Schiavone became the first Italian woman to reach a Grand Slam final when Elena Dementieva retired injured after the first set of their French Open semi-final.

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The 17th seed won the first set 7-6(3) when the teary Russian unexpectedly withdrew from the match, with a tear in her left calf muscle, leaving Schiavone with a place in the final against seventh seed Samantha Stosur after the Australian demolished Jelena Jankovic 6-1 6-2 in just 60 minutes.

"I was ready to take my towel and suddenly I saw her too close," said the 29-year-old.

"And for 10 seconds, many seconds, I didn't realise. Then when she shook my hand I knew it was finished. Then my mind realised where I was.

"Now I start to feel that it is really big history," she said. "We are happy I think in Italy. They are very happy and it's time to enjoy."

Schiavone started the match strongly, nervelessly holding for the loss of one point in the opening game of the match, before earning herself break points in each of Dementieva's opening three service games.

But despite the Italian enjoying the better of the early exchanges, it was the fifth-seeded Dementieva who made the first breakthrough.

Schiavone's first, and only, double fault of the match looked set to cost her dearly as Dementieva rifled a forehand down the line for a winner, after running round the ball, to grab the lead in the seventh game.

But the Russian could not maintain her pressure and allowed Schiavone to break back immediately, Dementieva slapping down her second double fault to hand the Italian the game.

Despite Dementieva seemingly losing control of her frequently shaky service action, the Russian did well to hold twice while serving to stay in the set and force the first-set tie-break.

Again it was Dementieva who made the early breakthrough, taking the early mini-break when Schiavone battered a forehand well long of the baseline.

But the Italian quickly bounced back, enjoying a 4-2 lead at the change of ends after dispatching a poor drop shot from the Russian with a whipped cross-court backhand winner.

And Schiavone quickly racked up another two points, the second of which was an ace, to earn herself four set points. The first went begging when Dementieva came up with a perfect backhand stop volley drop shot across court.

But the Italian wrapped up the set at the second attempt when Dementieva sent a backhand wide down the line before stunning both Schiavone and the crowd by withdrawing from the match hurt.

French Open women's final: Saturday 1.30pm LIVE on British Eurosport (Sky 410 / Virgin 521) & on the Eurosport Player.

Pippa Davis / Eurosport

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