Schiavone stuns Wozniacki to reach semi-finals
Francesca Schiavone today insisted words could not describe the emotion she felt at reaching her first grand slam semi-final after producing arguably the most complete performance of this year's French Open to stun Caroline Wozniacki.
Roland Garros saw its queen dethroned when Justine Henin suffered a shock defeat yesterday but 17th seed Schiavone played like her heir apparent on Philippe Chatrier Court this afternoon, her all-court game simply too much for teenager Wozniacki.
Schiavone won 6-2 6-3 in one hour 20 minutes to become the first Italian woman to reach the last four of a major in the Open era.
The 29-year-old got past the first week of each of the previous three grand slams before arriving in Paris but she had not been in the last eight at Roland Garros for nine years.
So she struggled to contain herself when the moment of triumph arrived today, dropping to her knees and kissing the clay.
Comparing the feeling to a "heart attack", she said: "I think in that moment you remember many things from when you were young.
"It's special because it is your space, it is your time, it is your opportunity.
"I felt alone, but with all the love around.
"It's like if I ask you, 'How did you feel when you married?' You say, 'It's not easy to explain'."
Few players can have reached a grand slam semi-final having waited so long to do so.
This is Schiavone's 39th attempt in total but she insisted she never gave up on her "dream".
"The truth is that I always dream," she said. "One of my goals was this.
"But to arrive is different. To live every step before arriving in a semi-final is something.
"I don't have many words to say, because it is emotion, it is feeling, it is something that is coming from the heart.
"I lived some good moments and some bad moments last year and some years ago.
"I think the bad moments helped me a lot to grow up and to learn many things that today, when I was playing, I was thinking about."
Third seed Wozniacki admitted she was beaten by the better player.
"She played with a lot of spin, she didn't make a lot of mistakes, she played aggressively," the 19-year-old said.
"She was playing better than me today. I was always one step behind and couldn't really dominate the way I wanted to."
In an era of baseline battles in the women's game, it was refreshing to see such an all-action approach from Schiavone.
Wozniacki added tellingly: "She didn't play typical women's tennis."
In stark contrast to Schiavone, opponent Elena Dementieva will be contesting her ninth grand slam semi-final.
Her error-strewn match with Petrova could not have been more different either, a real case of survival of the fittest as both players struggled with leg injuries picked up earlier in the tournament.
Dementieva capitalised on her fellow Russian's discomfort to win 2-6 6-2 6-0 in two hours and six minutes.
The 28-year-old two-time grand slam finalist, runner-up at Roland Garros in 2004, said: "I've been in the final and a couple of times in the semi-final and never won.
"This is one of the biggest goals left in my career. This is great motivation for me."
Both players took medical timeouts at 3-2 to Petrova in the first set today.
The 27-year-old, who upset Venus Williams in the last round, admitted she had considered quitting in the decider with a groin injury she picked up in her marathon third-round victory over Aravane Rezai.
She added: "It's just so difficult to quit and walk away because you just want to give it all.
"Anything can happen. On clay, somebody can sprain their ankle and not able to continue."
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