Razzano savours ‘beautiful’ victory
Originally published on: 30/05/12 00:00
Virginie Razzano might have thought her best years were behind her.
It’s three years since she produced career-best fourth round showings at the French Open and Wimbledon and climbed to a career high No.16 in the world and, since then, life has hit her rather hard. She lost her fiancé and coach Stéphane Vidal to a brain tumour just over a year ago and currently resides at No.111 in the rankings.
But yesterday she achieved pure bliss on the tennis court, shaking off crippling cramp to secure her eighth match point (in one epic game) and clinch a career-defining 4-6 7-6(5) 6-3 victory over tournament favourite Serena Williams.
"It was happiness, pure happiness,” beamed the 29-year-old Frenchwoman after stopping Williams' 17-match winning streak on clay. “It's the most beautiful victory of my whole career, especially on Court Philippe Chatrier in front of the whole crowd."
Razanno had lost in the first round in five of her last six visits to Roland Garros but, after fighting back from the brink of defeat in the second set tie-break to race into a 5-0 lead in the decider, the 5’8” right-hander admits she had a different feeling in this encounter.
"In my mind I just never lost," said Razzano. "Yes, I was 5-1 [down] in the tie-break, but in my mind I knew I could win this set. I knew I could come back, and I knew I had to do that. You don't need to think about other things, you just try to come back and try your best every time, on every point.
"After, if she played too well, I could say I did my maximum, and she wins. But I believed I could win. Even at 5-1 in the tie-break, I knew I hadn't lost yet.”
Razzano had won just two WTA main draw matches this year – in Strasbourg and Sydney – prior to the event and warmed up for the French Open with just three matches on clay, two of which she lost. Even so, she prepared for her bout with the 13-time Grand Slam champion meticulously.
"I believe I prepared myself well,” admitted Razzano. “I've only played a few matches lately, but I practiced a lot, spent a lot of time on court, and prepared physically also. I watched videos on Google and YouTube two days ago – I watched her matches in Rome. You need all this preparation.
"When you play a player like her, you can't play without preparing yourself."
As alien as it may seem to those who predicted a Williams v Maria Sharapova quarter-final, Razzano will play Dutchwoman Arantxa Rus in round two.