Francesca Schiavone today became the first Italian woman through to a grand slam final after a tearful Elena Dementieva dramatically quit their French Open semi-final.
Dementieva retired after losing the first set 7-6 (7/3) on Philippe Chatrier Court, the fifth seed apparently injured, having received treatment during her quarter-final victory over fellow Russian Nadia Petrova.
The 28-year-old had been a break up and seemingly in control of the match before surrendering that advantage as well as a 2-0 lead in the tie-break.
Today's semi-finals were the first in a grand slam since the 1979 Australian Open in which none of the women had previously won a major.
Dementieva had finished runner-up at Roland Garros and the US Open in 2004 and was playing in her ninth semi overall, while Schiavone had not previously reached the last four of any slam and was the first Italian female to do so in the Open era.
The 29-year-old had produced arguably the performance of the tournament to beat Caroline Wozniacki in the quarters, while Dementieva won the battle of the walking wounded against Petrova.
Schiavone was unable to reproduce her all-action display as she was pegged back by Dementieva’s forehand and her opponent’s own forward advances.
The Italian still managed to create break points in the Russian’s opening three service games but Dementieva – notoriously fragile on serve – rose to the challenge.
And when Schiavone finally gave up a break point on her own serve in game seven, Dementieva pounced.
Yet, a horrible follow-up game saw two double forehand errors and two double-faults gift the 17th seed the break back.
The rest of the set went to serve before Dementieva took a 2-0 lead in the tie break.
But she then lost the next six points to lose it 7-3 and quickly signalled she would not be continuing.
Despite the manner of her victory, Schiavone – who will play Jelena Jankovic or Samantha Stosur in Saturday’s final – could not help celebrating her historic achievement.