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Schiavone’s not so little anymore

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Originally published on: 28/10/10 16:28

Much has changed in the life of Francesca Schiavone in 2010.

After a solid start to season and a title in Barcelona, the Italian, who started the year at No.17, marched to Paris for the triumph that would rock her world.

Schiavone, 30, lit the championship alight with her offensive tennis and fiery passion on the court, producing fantastic performances against Caroline Wozniacki and Elena Dementieva en route to the Roland Garros final.

The biggest stage did not faze the Italian, who rose to the occasion to defeat Sam Stosur in straight sets and capture an historic title.

The remarkable moment fired the little Italian to superstardom in her homeland as she became the first Grand Slam champion since Adriano Panatta in 1976.

“I’m walking in the street and they say, ‘Hello, are you Francesca? You look smaller than on TV.’ I say, ‘No, don’t tell me this. I work hours and hours to become big,” quipped Schiavone.

But the sudden fame and attention didn’t daunt Schiavone, and she carried on putting together consistent performances to land a place in her first end-of-season championships.

“Aside from the Williams sisters, all the best are here,” said Schiavone this week. “This is the elite of tennis. It’s great to be here. I want to fully experience every moment of this tournament. It is special.”

Schiavone has been drawn in a tough group along with world No.1 Caroline Wozniacki, Elena Dementieva and Sam Stosur but she understands the heights she must reach if she is to progress.

“I’ll need to play like I did in Paris to win,” admitted Schiavone. “I’ve been put into a very tough group but I don’t think there will be a real favourite in any match.”

In Schiavone’s opening match against Stosur, she got off to a storming start, winning the opening four games, but the Aussie fought back strongly to win 6-4 6-4.

Up next is Wozniacki, who was also defeated by Stosur in her last match, making their next tie a thorougly interesting match with both needing victory if they are to remain in the competition.

Make no bones about it, it’ll be a tough task against 2010’s in-form player, but 5ft5 Italian has proved throughout this season that no obstable is too great for her to scale.

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