I said it the day it happened. The Serena Williams vs Svetlana Kuznetsova semi final match was the Women's French Open Final. Sveta fought herself and her opponent and overcame her nerves to win that third set. I felt then that the winner of that match would hoist the Championship Trophy.
I've also said it before and I can now say it again. A soft draw does not a Champion make. Dinara Safina was given a cakewalk to the Final playing lower ranked players as she sliced through her opponents. Victoria Azarenka would've taken her out if she'd been able to settle down and had a better working knowledge of clay court play. Her semi final match against Dominika Cibulkova was another case of her opponent being overcome by the vapors and not playing her game. In the Final Dinara faced an opponent who was not afraid of her, who had already beaten her once during the clay season, and could actually play clay court tennis. In the end it was all too much for Dinara. With no on court coaching and the camera catching what coaching was going on between coach and player Dinara found herself losing focus on the court and emotionally. She knew what the stakes were and knew that she had to win this one, that she would never get a draw that soft again. In the end Dinara wasn't up to the task.
The better woman won today and I was glad to see it. As the old people say what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Sveta has been through her own horror show. Her record in Finals up until today was abysmal and fans could be excused for thinking that Bad Sveta could show up this afternoon. Sveta stayed calm and focused. She refused to be intimidated by the power of her opponent and doing what needed to be done - keeping the ball low while moving Safina around while playing with the patience clay court tennis demands Sveta seemed able to break at will and Safina, flustered, could only stand by and watch the train as it roared past her.
Dinara remains the WTA Number One. I remember during the run up to the French Dinara said that all the sniping came from people jealous of all that she's accomplished at twenty three. Some of us demurred pointing out players who had won Slams by the age of twenty three, something Safina still has not done.
Congratulations to Sveta on her second Grand Slam.
Congratulations are also in order for Anabel Medina Garrigues and Virginia Ruano-Pascual for winning the women's doubles crown.