The two best players on clay this season are Dinara Safina and Svetlana Kuznetsova and they will meet in the 2009 Roland Garros final tomorrow. The all-Russian final should be a classic match, kinda like an all-Williams final.
No. 1 seed Safina, in pursuit of a maiden grand slam title, has had a bit of a shaky week but that did not stop her beating Slovakian teenager Dominika Cibulkova 6-3 6-3 in the semis.
On the other hand, No. 7 Kuznetsova was able to beat Serena Williams in one of the best matches of the year in the quarterfinals: 7-6(3) 5-7 7-5 and despite showing some mental weakness in her semifinal against Samantha Stosurm Kuznetsova was again able to gut out a win 6-4 6-7(5) 6-3 in a match that went on for almost two and a half hours. Can she make it three in a row?
Both Russians are closely matched physically, with huge serves, excellent forehands and backhands as well as exquisite movement on clay. Kuznetsova may be the more talented, but tennis is at least 50% mental, and by getting to #1 in the world, Safina has demonstrated the mental toughness required.
The Russian duo had been the favorites to reach the final before the start of the claycourt major and, after playing in Paris for 12 days, they set up the first all-Russian final at Roland Garros since 2004.
Since becoming world number one in April, Safina has swept to a 20-1 record on clay. Her one loss was to Kuznetsova. Head to head Safina leads their rivalry 8 to 5, although they are tied 4-4 in matches on clay and 1-1 at matches on clay at Roland Garros.
Will Safina keep her edge and win her first major title on Saturday in Paris? If she does triumph, it will also give her family a unique place in the record books. With her brother Marat owning two major trophies, a win on Saturday for Safina will mark the first time a brother and sister have captured grand slam singles titles.
Watch to find out!
Saturday, June 6, 2009
Women’s Final – NBC – 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM (EST) (LIVE)
Update: Kuznetsova’s wait for a second Grand Slam title is over. The Russian won the 2009 French Open title, emerging victorious 6-4 6-2 in a 75-minute contest.
October 5, 2008 – With the 3-0 series win over San Antonio, the Detroit Shock became WNBA champs for third time in 6 years.
The Shock had been one of the league’s best teams for much of the year, but sputtered after losing top post player Cheryl Ford to a season-ending knee injury in July. A trade for proven veteran Taj McWilliams-Franklin was just what Detroit needed.
Detroit became the second team in league history to win a third championship. Only the Houston Comets, who won the first four (1997-2000), have more. Los Angeles (2001, 2002) is the only other team with more than one.
Katie Smith was named WNBA Finals MVP after averaging 21.7 points, 6.7 rebounds and 3.3 assists in three games. She was the Shock’s leading scorer in each game of the Finals and led the team in rebounds in Game 1 with nine.
The celebrating isn’t over yet for the champs, who will be honored at a rally in Detroit on Monday.
Complete details at WNBA.com
September 30, 2008 – The Shock’s 75-73 victory over the NY Liberty sends them to their third consecutive trip to the WNBA Finals and fourth in the past six seasons. They will take on Becky Hammon and the San Antonio Silver Stars, who eliminated the Los Angeles Sparks on Sunday to advance to their first finals.
Games 1 and 2 in the best-of-five series will be played in San Antonio on Wednesday and Friday. The Silver Stars will have home-court advantage in the finals because of their 24-10 regular-season record, while Detroit finished 22-12.
Detroit lost both of its regular-season games against San Antonio, but they were both before the August trade for McWilliams-Franklin, who was acquired after star forward Cheryl Ford was lost for the season with a torn knee ligament on July 22.
Thirty-seven year-old McWilliams-Franklin, one of the oldest players in the league, was key in helping Detroit reach the WNBA finals .
Will Detroit three-peat?
June 2, 2008 – The Women’s National Basketball Association has launched a program with Adidas in which fans can go online and design a shooting shirt, with the opportunity for one’s design to see court time.
The WNBA i-design contest, at WNBA.com/idesign is for either a specific WNBA team or for the 2008 WNBA Finals. The design submissions for each of the 14 teams are judged by WNBA and Adidas reps. The winning designs will be manufactured by Adidas, and worn by each team during that team’s Fan Appreciation Night.
The winning designer in each market will receive two tickets to attend a WNBA game and a version of the shooting shirt autographed by their respective team. The fan whose design is chosen to be worn during the WNBA Finals will receive an all-expenses-paid trip for two to a Finals game.
Dec. 13, 2007 -Stanford will play against third-seeded Penn State, which swept No. 10 California in the semifinal. Penn won its only volleyball title in 1999 and will be making its fifth appearance in the final and first since winning it all.
The Cardinals, who advance to final after defeating USC, are seeking their seventh NCAA title and first since 2004. They’ve captured back-to-back regular-season conference titles for the first time since winning six straight in the late 1990s. Stanford and Penn State are the only teams to appear in every NCAA tournament.
The match on Saturday Dec. 15 at 6:00 p.m. PT (9:00 p.m. ET) will be shown live on ESPN2 and can also be heard online at www.GoPSUsports.com.