After playing the longest match in women's grand slam history just two days before, No. 6 seed Francesca Schiavone was not expected to have much left for her quarterfinal matchup against No. 1 seed Caroline Wozniacki. Unfortunately for Wozniacki, the expectations were not nearly correct. Schiavone jumped out to a set and a break lead at 3-1, and looked like she was well on her way to her first Australian Open semifinal berth.
However, serving at 3-2, Schiavone hit four consecutive errors to give back the break and the match swung into Wozniacki's favor as the Dane ran off six consecutive games to take a stranglehold on the match.
While Schiavone was clearly dealing with fatigue issues, she never gave in to her opponent at any point, even breaking Wozniacki in the third set when she was serving for the match at 5-2. Wozniacki broke back in the next game and is the second semifinalist in the women's draw of the 2011 Australian Open.
Just the fact that she made this match competitive was quite an extraordinary feat by Schiavone after playing nearly five hours in the match before. Many of the points were long, physical encounters, and it was clear she was tired throughout most of the match.
Most players, men or women, would not have nearly enough stamina to even compete in their next match after a marathon such as Schiavone had against Svletlana Kuznetsova in the fourth round, let alone against the No. 1 player in the world. But Francesca gave it her all from start to finish, almost pulling off one of the most amazing feats in tennis history.
While her tournament ended in a loss, Schiavone can't hang her head after this one. She saved six match points before knocking off Kuznetsova, then saved another three against Wozniacki before a challenge on the last point reversed the umpires overrule and finally ended her magical run. The reigning French Open Champion showed the kind of grit and fight that defines what a true champion is.
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