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Best of Three: Schiavone caps magical year, Fed hits for cycle


• Francesca Schiavone authored one of the better stories in tennis over the past year, playing the match of her life and winning the French Open women's singles title. The Italian veteran offered a fine sequel Sunday in San Diego, helping Italy defend its Fed Cup title. Schiavone knocked off Coco Vandeweghe -- a surprise fill-in for Melanie Oudin -- to get Italy on the board against the United States team. Then Flavia Pennetta did the rest, beating both Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Vandeweghe again. Brava.

• Roger Federer hit for the cycle in 2010: a Slam, a Masters Series titles, a 500-level and a 250-level title. (If this were any other player it would be a banner season; because it's Federer, we keep hearing how it's least productive output since 2002.) Last weekend, he won his hometown title in Basel, beating Novak Djokovic in the final. A friend who was courtside made this observation: "I wonder if you saw any of the final here in Basel today. A very emotional Roger thrilled the audience with his win and the two girls were brought on for the winner's ceremony. Even the commentators were moved by the degree of the support in the hall for Roger. I just loved the tennis this week; every match I saw was thrilling. As for the arguments Roger vs. Rafa: Who cares who is the greater of the two? It is such a thrill to be around to watch the two of them playing."

• Most folks who don't draw a check from the WTA are in agreement that this was not a banner year for women's tennis. So it goes. Here's hoping 2011 will be happier and, more important, healthier. The circuit did, however, end on an up note. Ana Ivanovic continued her hot play since late summer, winning the Bali title on Sunday. She closed out the '10 season winning 13 of her last 15 matches, returning to the top 20 and, above all, amassing confidence along the way. In the third place match, Kimiko Date Krumm, now 40, garnished her sensational comeback year, beating Daniela Hantuchova. Great story. And, at a time when so many peers have been felled by injury, it's not insignificant that she finished strong.

One last note about Elena Dementieva who, of course, retired somewhat unexpectedly last week in the Middle East (thus putting the D'oh in Doha.). Like many of you, I was touched by this video (Thanks, JJ Johnson of Allentown, Pa.). With the exception of Andre Agassi, I can't recall a retiring player triggering this level of admiration among their peers. While it's not necessarily an either/or choice, here's a "Scruples" question to discuss among yourselves: what would you rather have, a Grand Slam title? Or this level of respect and adulation from the folks in the workplace?