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Schiavone, Stosur are surprise French Open finalists

PARIS - Go figure: The women's French Open final will be between a clay-kissing Italian and a giant-killing Australian.

Francesca Schiavone will play Samantha Stosur tomorrow, the latest surprise in a week full of them at Roland Garros. Both are first-time Grand Slam finalists.

"We're both going to be excited," Stosur said. "It's a great opportunity for both of us."

Schiavone became the first Italian woman to reach a major final yesterday when Elena Dementieva retired with a left calf injury after losing the first set, 7-6 (3).

Stosur then became the first Australian woman since Wendy Turnbull in 1980 to reach a Grand Slam final by drubbing former No. 1 Jelena Jankovic, 6-1, 6-2.

The No. 7-seeded Stosur won with the same big serve and booming forehand that helped her upset four-time French Open champion Justine Henin and 12-time Grand Slam winner Serena Williams this week.

The two semifinals lasted barely two hours between them, and the first match ended abruptly. After Dementieva lost the first set, she walked up to Schiavone, who was sitting in her changeover chair, and extended a hand in concession.

"For the moment, I don't understand what's going on," Schiavone said.

The Italian then fell to her knees to kiss the court in a reprise of her quarterfinal celebration and rose with a clay-caked grin.

How did the clay taste? "It was good," the 17th-seeded Schiavone said. "So good."

The 29-year-old Schiavone had never previously advanced beyond the quarterfinals in a Grand Slam.

"I've already made history for my country," she said. "In Italy, also, they are very happy, and is time to enjoy for us, for everybody."

While Italians celebrated, Dementieva sobbed. It's the first time in the Open era that a woman retired in a semifinal or final at Roland Garros.

The Russian said she suffered a tear in her calf in the second round. "It was very painful to even walk," Dementieva said. "It was a bit too much. I couldn't really move on the court."

Stosur's match was even shorter than the first, lasting only an hour. "I can't believe I'm here," Stosur told the crowd after the match. "It wasn't easy to get here. I'm very pleased."


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