Head-smart Errani ready to go the distance
Originally published on: 06/06/12 00:00
Just two years after Francesca Schiavone became the first Italian woman ever to win a Grand Slam title and the lowest-ranked Roland Garros champion for 34 years, Sara Errani has moved to within two victories of beating her fellow countrywoman’s achievement. The world No.24, who is ranked seven places lower than Schiavone was at Roland Garros in 2010, is through to the semi-finals of the French Open thanks to her first victory over a top 10 player in 29 attempts.
Errani’s quarter-final win over Germany’s Angelique Kerber took the 25-year-old from Bologna into her first Grand Slam semi-final and maintained her progress in what has been an outstanding year. After reaching her first Grand Slam quarter-final at the Australian Open, where she eventually lost to Petra Kvitova, Errani has had a superb clay-court season, winning titles in Acapulco, Barcelona and Budapest.
Like Schiavone, she has to rely on her speed around the court and the imagination of her game rather than pure strength. She stands just 5ft 4in tall and weighs only 9st 6lb. Playing with a slightly longer racket than before has helped to improve her reach and, she believes, given her more power. “Physically I worked very hard over the winter,” she said. “I just try to work harder every day.”
However, Errani acknowledged that being smarter and quicker than opponents was even more crucial to her success. “I have to do other things, maybe with the head,” she said. “I have to be fast and I have to be resistant, maybe other things too. I have to try to make power not so important.”
Had Schiavone’s success at Roland Garros inspired her? “Yes, of course,” Errani said. “I remember that very well. It has been an inspiration, but I don’t think about that. I just want to play. I think about doing the good things that I usually try to do and just keep going until I get to my destination.”