25
Jan
11

Wozniacki retains her #1 spot and moves into the semi final to meet Li Na.

World number one Caroline Wozniacki hit back from a set down to finally break the resolve of Francesca Schiavone and move into the Australian Open semi-finals. Schiavone, who needed four hours and 44 minutes to squeeze past Svetlana Kuznetsova in the longest women’s match in grand slam history in the previous round, fought valiantly but ran out of gas after a fine start to go down 3-6 6-3 6-3 . Credit must go to Wozniacki: a set and a break down, it would have been easy for her to start doubting herself and give in to those who have questioned her ability to win a major despite rising to the top of the world rankings. But she kept her composure and waited for Schiavone to tire, which she inevitably did. The top seed goes on to a meeting with Li Na, who ended the run of Andrea Petkovic earlier, although French Open Schiavone will take many of the plaudits. The 30-year-old survived three early break points before making her move, claiming the Dane’s serve for a 5-3 lead. Wozniacki threatened an immediate response by racing to 15-40 but two big serves got the Italian out of trouble, as it did when the world number one threatened again.

A brilliant low volley saw Schiavone then move to set point and she closed it out by sneaking into the net behind a looping forehand and putting the ball into the opposite corner. Wozniacki took a medical time-out at the end of the set for treatment on an upper leg injury and shortly after returning she was broken as Schiavone surged into a 3-1 lead. It appeared the match was drifting away from the top seed but she battled on and finally made the breakthrough, although she was assisted by her opponent, who made four horrible errors to concede her advantage. And it proved a turning point as Wozniacki ran through the rest of the set to level it up. The momentum was firmly with the Dane and, although she saw an early break wiped out, she struck again to go 2-1 up and as Schiavone finally started to fade, she took full advantage. A stunning lob gave her a 5-2 lead and although Schiavone saved three match points to make it 5-3, Wozniacki was not to be denied.

“It was very difficult,” Wozniacki admitted afterwards. “Francesca was playing well at the start. It was tough for me to get the right rhythm and I was making mistakes on the important points. “I just told myself to take one ball at a time and don’t give up. “If you get the chance, you need to take it now, otherwise it’s going to be too late.”

The Dane, who will retain the number one spot after reaching the semis, believes both her and ninth seed Li have improved since met here 12 months ago. “I lost to her here last year. She’s a really good player and she hasn’t lost a match this year yet. “She won in Sydney and she is on a roll. “I think Li has improved a lot, but I also believe I have. “I am going to go in there, fight for every point, and just see what happens.” Schiavone conceded she started to struggle as the match went on. “I had my chances but in the third set I felt something physically, but it’s not an excuse. I think I gave the best I could,” she said. “I am a little bit disappointed, I am a tennis player and always want more especially when I have chances but today I didn’t do it. “But with everything else I am positive.

“I think I have a good chance to keep going, improving and getting good results.”

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