It is not wise to declare your hand in this sports writing game, but Sam Stosur can win this French Open. The script was torn up in the Henin/Stosur match on Monday night. Henin’s strength is her single-handed backhand, yet this was her weakness against Stosur.
Conversely, Sam’s strength is her first serve, but she only served 66 percent to Henin’s 71 percent.
In the end, it was the Stosur forehand that did the damage.
She hits this flat down the line with a defining flick of the wrist. She hits it with topspin across the court. And she hits an off-forehand with an open stance into the baseline corner.
Henin had all the crowd support and Stosur had to calm her nerves before closing out the third set with an emphatic smash.
Stosur has the game to beat Serena and the clash on Wednesday will hinge on the first serve. Serena can crank it up to the 205 mark. Stosur can go the high 190s and averages 168 to Serena’s 172.
Sam has the better second serve and this could also prove decisive.
This is the modern women’s game and the battle between Serena and Sam could well be the best match of the tournament.
The winner will have one hand on the trophy.
Monday afternoon in Paris was dull and blustery. Sam took off her sunnies in the second set and she was a different player. She is not a demonstrative player. But she has steel in her eyes and is a fighter.
She is at her best when she is attacking.
Serena acknowledges it will not be a stroll: “Sam is actually a wonderful clay court player. I think she proved that last year, and this year I think she’s only lost twice on the clay. So she’s someone you can’t overlook. She’s fast, strong, and has a great serve.”
This is a remarkable about face from the Serena that called Stosur “a good framer” after losing in Stanford.
Stosur has just defeated a four time French Open champion on her favourite surface. Serena has won the French once, in 2002. and has not been past the quarters since 2004.
This is Stosur’s time.