Defending French Open champ Francesca Schiavone overcame a slow, slow start on Tuesday at the French Open, rallying from 1-6, 1-4 down to defeat Russian teenager Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 1-6, 7-5, 7-5 to move into the semifinals at Roland Garros.
“I started too slow, absolutely too slow,” Schiavone said. “The key was to hit three, four, five, six, seven balls, but I couldn’t arrive at three, four. That was the way to win — if I went to the net in one shot, there was no way to win. From 4-1 down I played two really good games then she went a little bit down.”
The 30-year-old Schiavone cut down on the errors, which began to pile-up for the Russian. Serving at 4-5 in the second set at game point, Pavlyuchenkova spun a slow, nervous double fault into the net to hand the Italian a chance in the third set.
“It’s very difficult to lose these kinds of matches, and just to lose in general,” said Pavlyuchenkova, whose movement looked vastly improved after dropping some weight. “I’ll just try to move on, forget this match and just take all the positive things. It was a very good experience — it was my first Grand Slam quarterfinal and it’s never easy to play well, especially against Francesca. She was really great today. She had courage — it was tough to stop her.”
Schiavone will next face French veteran and No. 11 seed Marion Bartoli, who defeated No. 13 seed and former French Open champ Svetlana Kuznetsova 7-6(4), 6-4.
Bartoli is through to her second Grand Slam semifinal after 2007 Wimbledon, losing to Venus Williams in the final. She is only the second Frenchwoman in the last 30 years to reach the final four at Roland Garros after Mary Pierce (1994, 2000 and 2005).
Wednesday will be the completion of the women’s quarters with (4) Victoria Azarenka vs. (6) Na Li, and (7) Maria Sharapova vs. (15) Andrea Petkovic.
On the men’s side Roger Federer rolled over French hope Gael “Force” Monfils 6-4, 6-3, 7-6(3) to set up a much-anticipated semifinal against Novak Djokovic.
Federer has yet to drop a set through to the semifinals at the 2011 French Open.
“I’m very happy to be in the semifinals,” said Federer after both players put in an error-strewn performance in the gusty conditions. “Playing a semifinal here at Roland Garros is a great moment and playing such a great player is what we train for.”
Djokovic, who has beaten Federer in their last three meetings, will take the No. 1 ranking from Rafael Nadal if he defeats the Swiss in the semifinals on Friday.
No. 4 seed Andy Murray finished his darkness-delayed match from yesterday, staging a comeback in the final set to move into the quarters. No. 15-seeded Viktor Troicki was serving for the match at 5-3, 30-0, but couldn’t close the door, allowing Murray to eventually walk away (nursing a sore ankle) with a 4-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 7-5 victory.
“I don’t think many people recover from a sprained ankle and a tear in a tendon in two days,” Murray said of his ongoing problem. “I was told to stay off my feet totally the day in between the match, the (Michael) Berrer match. I was given crutches which I didn’t use because I didn’t know how to. I had never used them before…I’ve done a lot icing, taking a lot pills. Had an MRI scan, had an ultrasound scan. Done everything that I could to get myself as best as possible going into the match.”
To Troicki, the Brit did not seem hindered by injury at all.
“No, not at all,” he said. “I mean, to me, he ran normal. We played a couple of times before, so he was running full power and going for his shots. He seemed normal.”
Murray tomorrow will face Juan Ignacio Chela in the quarterfinals. Murray beat Chela the last two years at Roland Garros, and is 6-1 lifetime against the Argentine.
“The fact that I recovered well enough to play, I mean, was probably the best point for me,” Murray said. “I haven’t really been in this position before in a Slam. And obviously, no disrespect to any of the guys I’m playing against, I felt like there’s a good chance for me to do well here. I have a very good record against Viktor and a very good record against Chela.”
The other quarterfinal on Wednesday will be a French Open final rematch when (1) Rafael Nadal takes on (5) Robin Soderling.
TENNIS-X NEWS, NOTES, QUOTES AND BARBS
SUCK THESE BALLS — The top players such as Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal say the Babolat balls introduced at this year’s French Open are radically different than the Dunlop balls used last year, and the Dunlop’s used in the warm-up tournaments leading to the French. Roland Garros officials say the players are wrong. “We are convinced that we have the exact same ball as last year,” French Open Tournament Director Gilbert Ysern told reporters. “We clearly asked Babolat to produce the exact same ball as the one we had last year.” Nadal isn’t happy. “I only practiced four or five days, six days with this ball after one month and a half or one month playing with another ball,” Nadal said. “The feeling is something very important in tennis. From the outside it is sometimes difficult to see. But from inside for the players, it is something dangerous for the shoulders, for everything.” Who are you likely to side with? Babolat must be giving the French a CHUNK of money to use the new ball. Way to regulate the tour ITF.
CRAZI DANI BANNED FOR LIFE — Austrian Challenger-level player Daniel “Crazi Dani” Koellerer has been banned from the sport for life for match-fixing by the Tennis Integrity Unit, the anti-corruption partnership between the ATP, WTA and Grand Slam Committee. He has also been fined $100,000 after being found guilty of “contriving or attempting to contrive the outcome of an event; soliciting or facilitating a player not to use his best efforts in an event; and soliciting, offering or providing money, benefit or consideration to any other covered person with the intention of negatively influencing a player’s best effort in any event,” the TIU said, according to Bloomberg News. Crazi Dani’s manager piped-in with an odd statement to Bloomberg: “This is a massive shock,” Manfred Nareyka, Koellerer�s manager, said. “This investigation has now been going on for a year and a half. It has affected him making a living. There is no proof. I distance myself from any form of match-fixing.” — Maybe distance yourself from your client too.
Former No. 1 Amelie Mauresmo was entered in the French Open mixed doubles with Michael Llodra, but was then informed that she was ineligible because she has not taken part in the tour’s anti-doping program for the last three months. Tennis, you keep finding ways to kill the excitement, nicely done! Keeping the 31-year-old Mauresmo from making a comeback (even if it was a one-off) — in France yet! Golf clap to you Roland Garros! Dumb-asses!…Former No. 1 Yevgeny Kafelnikov, playing at the ATP senior event in Sao Paulo, had predicted Juan Martin del Potro beating Novak Djokovic at the French Open: “It’s my gut instinct that Djokovic will lose to Del Potro. I think Del Potro’s game matches up well against Novak’s. He’s got a big serve, big forehand and it seems to me that the court is a bit faster and the balls are a bit faster as well which will suit Del Potro. The fast balls will probably be in Djokovic’s favor too because I’m sure he doesn’t like slow balls, but I just think that it’s time for Del Potro to step up and show once again that he can be at the top. I’m sure he feels himself he has a good chance.” — Wrong…ESPN’s Chris McKendry, what is up with the horrible outfits day after day of the Frenhc Open coverage? Let the ESPN people dress you. If they already are, make them stop…Viktor Troicki on a ball boy interfering with a point that was subsequently won by Andy Murray when the umpire called a replay: “I mean, since I watched tennis and I played tennis, I have never seen such a situation. Kid just jumped in and messed up my point.”
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