(CNN) -- Francesca Schiavone became the first Italian woman to win a Grand Slam tennis title when she overpowered fellow first-time finalist Samantha Stosur at the French Open on Saturday.
The 17th seed became only the second person from her country to win one of the sport's four major tournaments with a 6-4 7-6 (7-2) victory on the red clay at Roland Garros in Paris. Her compatriot Adriano Panatta won the French Open men's title in 1976.
Stosur, ranked 10 places higher in the world at seventh, was expected to become the first Australian woman to win a major since Evonne Goolagong at Wimbledon in 1980.
She beat former champions Justine Henin and Serena Williams before thrashing former world No. 1 Jelena Jankovic, the fourth seed, in the semifinals on Friday.
Stosur had also beaten Schiavone in their three meetings last year, one of those on the way to reaching the last four at the French Open.
Schiavone's previous best performance in Paris was reaching the quarterfinals in 2001, but she looked much sharper on Court Philippe Chatrier after having had to play only one set in her semifinal before fifth seed and 2004 finalist Elena Dementieva retired hurt.
Schiavone, who turns 30 on June 23, became the second-oldest first-time winner of the tournament as her aggressive tactics nullified an out-of-sorts Stosur's powerful groundstrokes.
She is the lowest-ranked woman's player to win the French Open since No. 18 Sue Barker of Britain in 1976, and will break into the top-10 for the first time in her career next week when she rises to sixth place.
Schiavone took a vital 5-4 lead in the first set when Stosur double-faulted and then served out to go 1-0 up.
Stosur bounced back to lead 4-1 in the second set, but then her game fell apart again as Schiavone used her pace around the court and tricky spin shots to level again.
The tie-break was level at 2-2 before a visibly pumped-up Schiavone reeled off four points in a row and then claimed a famous victory -- and just the fourth title of her career -- when Stosur mis-hit a backhand return into the stands.
"I felt amazing today. I feel like a champion," Schiavone told the crowd before accepting the trophy. "But I want to say to Samantha that she is a great person. You deserve to be here next time. You are young, you can still do it."
Stosur admitted her disappointment but said she had enjoyed her fortnight in the "City of Light."
"I still don't think I played that badly. She just had her day. She went for it and everything came off. It takes guts to do that," Stosur told reporters.
"I am disappointed, not just because I lost, but it has been a big journey and a great two weeks. I guess I wanted the full fairytale, but it didn't quite happen."
In Sunday's men's final, Spain's four-time champion Rafael Nadal takes on last year's runner-up Robin Soderling of Sweden.