2011 Australian Open 3R: Francesca Schiavone vs Svetlana Kuznetsova
I've spent 31 days this year attending a variety of tennis tourneys around the world, and there is one match that has stayed fresh in my mind- the marathon that was Fran vs Sveta in Melbourne.
I specifically bought the Hisense Arena ticket because I love both these players and thought they matched up well. Huge talent, great athletes and charmingly funny personalities.
The match was superb. The rallies amazing - the use of the court, the fight. When the score first got to 6-6 it was exciting to think we'd see such a tight finish. Then it kept going, and going! In the crowd you'd share a look with others and you'd both be thinking how lucky you were to witness such amazing tennis.
People kept leaving their seats when it was 10-9, or 13-12 and I wanted to yell 'what the hell is wrong with you?' 'This is tennis history!' But possibly I was the only crazy person who sat for the whole match (and Nole's match before it) without using the loo?
Fran was down so many break points and match points and she hung in. But Sveta didn't give those match points away. Fran took every one with amazing court coverage and deft shots at the net. She retrieved shots I thought she had no chance at. It was superb tennis - such amazing quality. Sveta always looked to have the upper hand, but Fran would not relent and finally won it 16-14.
What I remember most was the huge cheers from the crowd. When the players returned to the court after changes of ends late in the third set, the crowd's enthusiastic and appreciative applause gave me goosebumps and I was in tears. This is what tennis is about - I was so proud of our sport and of these two ladies. Best match I've seen live - hands down.