Defending champion Francesca Schiavone survives scare at French Open

By Eleanor Crooks,Pa
Sunday 23 October 2011 01:57
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Defending champion Francesca Schiavone dug herself out of a huge hole to beat Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 1-6 7-5 7-5 and reach the semi-finals of the French Open this afternoon.

The fifth seed looked to be heading out of the tournament when she trailed 4-1 in the second set but Schiavone is certainly a fighter and she gradually reeled Pavlyuchenkova back in.

A couple of superb one-handed backhands enabled the Italian to break for a 6-5 lead in the second set and from there it seemed there was only going to be one winner.

Pavlyuchenkova, the world's best teenager at 15th in the rankings, had knocked out third seed Vera Zvonareva to reach the last eight at a grand slam for the first time in her career.

The Russian continued to fight hard but her chances looked slim at best when Schiavone moved into a 5-1 lead.

There was another twist to come, though, as Pavlyuchenkova defied her flagging fortunes to win three games in succession. She then created two break points when Schiavone served for the match for a second time, taking the second with a mis-hit return.

From 5-5, though, the Russian faltered again, losing her serve and then finally succumbing as Schiavone served out for a place in the last four against either Svetlana Kuznetsova or Marion Bartoli.

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