Unexpected French final
PARIS — On a rainy, windy day 53 1/2 weeks ago, at Roland Garros' cozy, 259-seat Court 8, Samantha Stosur and Francesca Schiavone played each other in a run-of-the-mill, first-round match at the French Open.
Stosur, then ranked 32nd, beat Schiavone, then ranked 50th, in straight sets. They'll meet again at the clay-court Grand Slam tournament tomorrow. Oh, how the setting and circumstances have changed.
This time around, Stosur vs. Schiavone will be for the French Open championship in the 14,845-capacity main stadium.
Schiavone, seeded 17th, was sitting on her green changeover bench, toweling off after winning the first set of her match 7-6 (3) in 69 minutes, when her opponent, No. 5 Elena Dementieva, walked up while fighting tears to say she was quitting.
In the day's second semifinal, No. 7 Stosur overpowered No. 4 Jelena Jankovic of Serbia, 6-1, 6-2.
It will be the first Grand Slam final for each woman — only the fifth such double-debut in the 42-year Open era.
"No matter what I'm feeling, she's probably thinking it, too, so it's a different, new situation for both of us. Who knows how we're both going to feel? I'm sure there's going to be some nerves out there," Stosur said.
Stosur is the first woman from Australia to play for a major tennis title since Wendy Turnbull was the runner-up at the 1980 Australian Open. That's nothing compared to the wait endured by Schiavone's nation: She's the first woman from Italy to reach a Grand Slam final in the sport's century-plus history.
"It's beautiful," Schiavone said in Italian. "Very beautiful. Moving."
Dementieva, of Russia, explained later that, unbeknownst to everybody else, she tore her left calf muscle in the second round.
EX-COACH WOODEN HOSPITALIZED IN L.A.
Former UCLA basketball coach and Hall of Famer John Wooden has been hospitalized in Los Angeles, according to Bill Walton.
The former UCLA star said last night that the 99-year-old Wooden was at UCLA Medical Center, where Walton last visited with him two days ago.
Walton spoke at the NBA finals, where he declined to comment on Wooden's condition.
"He's the greatest," Walton said, his voice catching. "We love him."
Los Angeles television station KCAL and the Los Angeles Times first reported that Wooden was in "grave" condition.
Wooden led the Bruins to 10 NCAA championships — at one time winning seven in a row.
OGILVY, TWO OTHERS TIED ATOP MEMORIAL
Geoff Ogilvy felt as though he made more putts in one round at the Memorial than he had in the last month. One little miss that cost him the outright lead yesterday sure wasn't going to spoil his day.
On greens that were fast and pure despite two rain delays at Muirfield Village in Dublin, Ohio, Ogilvy rolled in eight birdie putts to take the lead, only to fall into a three-way tie when his 30-inch par putt spun out of the cup on his 17th hole.
He still shot a 7-under 65, his best start of the year, and shared the lead with Rickie Fowler and Justin Rose.
"I putted very well," Ogilvy said with a wry smile before adding, "except for one little blip."
They were two shots ahead of a group that included Phil Mickelson, who can go to No. 1 in the world with a victory as long as defending champion Tiger Woods isn't among the top four.
Woods failed to make birdie on any of the par 5s in a round of 72.
BIG BEN SAYS IT IS TIME FOR CHANGE
Ben Roethlisberger issued no apology. He didn't ask for forgiveness from his fans, and he didn't lobby NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to reduce his six-game suspension.
What the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback said yesterday in his first comments since being suspended April 21 by the NFL were revealing: He's ready to make major changes to a lifestyle that cast him as a role model for bad behavior by privileged pro athletes with a sense of entitlement.
"I've spent a lot of time evaluating and looking at my life both on and off the field," Roethlisberger said in brief remarks following a Steelers voluntary practice. "I think this is a time for me to kind of close the chapter of the last couple of years of my life and move on to a new one, kind of a new start. I'm kind of really excited about it."
Roethlisberger, accused twice of sexual assault in the past two years, pledged to make smarter decisions during what he called "the second chance" he's received to turn around his life.
Soccer: U.S. forward Jozy Altidore sprained an ankle during a training drill at Irene, South Africa, and is day to day. Altidore hurt his right ankle during a workout on a shortened field Wednesday, U.S. Soccer Federation spokesman Neil Buethe said. Altidore was taken to a hospital for X-rays and was diagnosed with a mild sprain.
Tennis: Bode Miller's quest to make the U.S. Open tennis tournament came to a quick end, when he lost, 6-4, 6-2, to Erik Nelson-Kortland in an opening match at sectional playoffs at Central O'ahu Regional Park in Waipahu. Miller, who has five Olympic Alpine skiing medals to his credit, was a state champion tennis player in high school.
Golf: England's Chris Wood shot a 6-under 65 in the Wales Open to match the record on Celtic Manor's Twenty Ten Course and take a one-stroke lead over Wales' Bradley Dredge. Wood matched the course record set last year by Simon Dyson.