Thursday, February 17, 2011

Fran and Sveta set for Marathon match.

Playing her first WTA event since her run to the Australian Open quarterfinals, Francesca Schiavone looked fresh as a daisy as she won her Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships opener against Zhang Shuai.

Schiavone, the No.3 seed, broke the Chinese qualifier in six of her eight service games en route to a routine 6-3 6-1 win. "It was not easy at the start because she was playing really well," the Italian said. "She had some chances at 3-all, but I served well and attacked. After that, I got a little more confidence."

Afterwards in her post-match press conference, Schiavone was told the TV commentators were comparing her game to that of former No.1 Justine Henin.

"It's fantastic, but I think we have a totally different kind of play. When someone sees a one-handed backhand, everybody thinks Justine and Francesca. But I put much more spin and use it to defend; she used it to attack. But I hope one day they will say, 'Ah, you have the same game as Francesca.'"

Down Under, Schiavone showed incredible fitness in a four-hour, 44-minute fourth round victory over Svetlana Kuznetsova, the longest women's Grand Slam match in the Open Era, before almost beating Caroline Wozniacki.

Next for Schiavone is none other than Kuznetsova, the No.16 seed here, and a 5-7 6-2 6-4 winner over Tsvetana Pironkova. The Italian was asked if they would play longer than in Melbourne. "I tell you, tomorrow, after two hours, I'm taking the racquet and putting it in the bag," the 30-year-old Italian joked.

"It was disappointing, but every single person who knows me watched that match and told me it was a great match," Kuznetsova said. "We always have long matches. It's an interesting match-up because we don't play boom-boom tennis. We play different kinds of spin, we run around. That's it.

"I have nothing to lose. She's the favorite. The pressure is on her."

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