Francesca and Elena to Meet in Semis

French Open 2010
By Hiland Doolittle, June 2nd, 2010
Francesca Schiavone reacts after defeating Caroline Wozniacki

Francesca Schiavone reacts after defeating Caroline Wozniacki

Francesca Schiavone became the first Italian to gain a semifinal berth at Roland Garros in 56 years. The 5’5 Italian also crossed a personal threshold by reaching her first Grand Slam Semifinal at 29 years young. The 17 seed upset pretty Dane Caroline Wozniacki, the three seed, with aggressive returns of serve and a consistent ground assault that had the gimpy Wozniacki chasing down balls across the baseline.

Schiavone drew upon her experience to upset the successful Dane using an all-court game that kept Caroline guessing and more importantly moving east-west and north-south. The strategy was more than enough to record an emotional and well-deserved triumph over her 19-year old opponent.

Wozniacki has played so much tennis in the past two years that fans forget how young the gorgeous Dane is. The competitive blonde notched a tour high 59 wins last season. This year the going has been more difficult, but Caroline manages to come through in the clutch. Her relentless work ethic has moved her high up in the world rankings and she was a prohibitive favorite against Schiavone.

Schiavone pulled all the tricks out of the bag against her youthful competitor. When Wozniacki came forward, Francesca resorted to high lobs to force her back. Wozniacki has made a comfortable living on the baseline but today she could not hurt the hard charging Italian. Schiavone’s execution was flawless. In the 6-2, 6-3 quarterfinal loss, Wozniacki seemed to be awaiting a mistake, a hint of tiredness or just something to show that Francesca would falter. Those self-doubts never came.

Instead, what came back was everything Wozniacki hit over the net. And. every shot the Italian made had more authority and greater depth. When questioned about reaching her first Grand Slam semifinal at age 29, the Italian answered she had “saved the best for last,” and that she was not done yet.

Winner Poker

In the semifinals, Francesca will meet another tour veteran who has surpassed expectations, 28-year old Russian Elena Dementieva, the fifth seed. Things looked bleak for Dementieva as fellow Russian 19th seed Nadia Petrova blew through the first set.

Petrova and Dementieva have always played each other tough. The win gives Elena a slight 8-7 career mark against the powerful Petrova. For Dementieva, the win puts her in her ninth Grand Slam semifinal. The 6’1” blonde only has a 2-6 Grand Slam seminal record and encourages whispers that she is the best player to have never won a Grand Slam title.

Dementieva’s serve deserted her in the first set and Petrova capitalized. However, when Elena began to land first serves, the match turned sharply. After losing the first set 2-6, Elena won 12 of the next 14 games.

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Petrova, who knocked out Aravane Rezai and Venus Williams, the two seed, seemed frustrated. The husky Russian showed the emotional lack of confidence that has plagued her career. With the 2-6, 6-2, 6-0 triumph in hand, Elena was radiant.

Dementieva and Schiavone have played 10 times previously. The Russian holds a 6-4 advantage, but Francesca does not look like she will blow up the way Petrova did. This promises to be a hard fought battle and as we have seen, anything can happen on the clay.


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