Serena Williams had played seven clay court matches this season prior to the French and sported a pedestrian (for her) 5-2 record. She won neither of the two tournaments she entered. Sam Stosur came into Roland Garros sporting a 14-2 record with one tournament win on the surface. She had beaten tournament favorite Justine Henin in the previous round.
Serena Williams losing on clay often feels like a self-fulfilling prophecy. She knows it's not her best surface, so she often plays down to it. Defeats aren't as much surprising as they are inevitable. Sam Stosur is what they call a "clay court specialist."
Serena Williams started off poorly Wednesday and appeared frustrated throughout most of the first two sets. She yelled toward her box about Stosur's slices and frequently gave the "what's going on?" motion with her hands. Sam Stosur was completely in control from the outset.
Serena Williams isn't the best women's tennis player in the world for nothing, though. With Stosur two points from victory, Serena flipped on like a light switch. Sam Stosur was two points away from beating the best women's tennis player in the world. And she began to play like she could think of nothing else.
Serena Williams almost won the match at 5-4 in the third set, except for a forehand that flew a few inches long. Sam Stosur looked done. The roles had reversed. Serena Williams couldn't hold her serve at 6-6 in the third, though. Sam Stosur did and advanced to her second straight French Open semifinal with the 6-2, 6-7 (2), 8-6 victory.
Numerically and nominally, this is a surprise. In reality, it's not. Don't call it an upset. Call it what it was: the match of the tournament and a career-making win for Sam Stosur.