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Schiavone plays match of her life to score historic upset at French Open

francesca-schiavone-story-g.jpg caught up with Sports Illustrated senior writer Jon Wertheim after Francesca Schiavone defeated Samantha Stosur in the French Open women's singles final, 6-4, 7-6(2).

The 17th-seeded Schiavone became the second double-digit seed in French Open history -- and the first since 1933 -- to capture the women's singles title. How big of a surprise is it?

This will go down as one of the all-time upset champions. People can go back and pick through her draw and say that she didn't have to win too many tough matches or that all the damage was really done on the other half of the draw or that she won her semifinal [against Elena Dementieva] by virtue of a retirement. But stories like this ... this is why we watch. How do you not feel good for her?

What did you think about Schiavone's approach today? Her net play on crucial points?

If you had shadowed the players, you'd have thought Schiavone was Stosur from the way she was playing aggressively on the big points and attacking the net and going for broke. She sort of out-Stosur-ed Stosur. You just have visions of Schiavone saying to herself last night, "Look, you're 29 years old, you're never going to get this chance again, you just have to play the match of your life." And that's pretty much what she did. I thought it was a pretty great performance.

Do you see Schiavone as a one-Slam wonder or someone who can challenge at majors down the road?

Gauge it by her reactions: She was eating dirt starting in the quarterfinals. Everybody knew what the narrative was here. Everything sort of broke right for her and she played the match of her life when she had to. I would be stunned if she wins another major.

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You do feel for Stosur. Imagine beating Serena Williams, Justine Henin and just tooling Jelena Jankovic in the semis -- and losing to Schiavone with the trophy on the court. I imagine Stosur will say all the right things, that's she's thrilled to reach the finals, but she's got to be gutted right now.

The match reminded me a little bit of the Gaston Gaudio-Guillermo Coria men's final in 2004, where the guy who was supposed to win was a little bit off, and the guy who wasn't supposed to win just played the match of their life. You never heard from them again, but they still get to retire as a Grand Slam champion.

A pair of first-time Grand Slam finalists in the women's championship probably didn't make for the best ratings, but do you think it was good for the game?

If you're a fan or if you're a human being, you have to love today's result. But I'm not sure if you gave the WTA or NBC truth serum, they would say the 29-year-old Italian is quite the champion they envisioned. If this had been Caroline Wozniacki and Stosur, it'd be a different story. But if you're a tennis fan, this was a lot of fun.

What's next for both players moving forward in 2010?

God bless Schiavone, but you do get the feeling this was her lightning-in-a-bottle moment. I would be stunned if four weeks from now she's still alive at Wimbledon. I think this is one of these I-can-die-a-happy-death-now situations. Stosur's really the interesting case because 24 hours ago we were talking about her as a Top-5 player who'd just come off wins against three of the top players. She's athletic and she attacks and she hits that big ball and serves well. But right now, she's just got to put this behind her. This was just a great opportunity she couldnt convert. It will be interesting to see how she carries on. Does she come away thinking, "Hey, I beat three of the top five players," or does she come away thinking, "Everything lined up for me to win a major and I couldnt get it done against a player I beat a year ago."

There will be two Italians and one Russian in the women's Top 10 next week. Coincidence? Or is there anything we can read out of that?

It shows how global the sport is and how everything's cyclical. The other thing to take away is everybody always asks whether so-and-so will win another Slam as if it's JoeDiMaggio's hitting streak. This has to be such an inspiration for every other player. You can see it on Twitter, where a lot of the journeymen are already saying this: A couple of things go right and your semifinal opponent gets injured and you play the match of your life when you have to -- and suddenly you're a Grand Slam champion. Two weeks ago, this was a very middling player. And it doesn't take all that much for everything to break right. If I'm ranked No. 20 right now, I have a new charge of inspiration today.