Francesca & Sveta: Rematch In Dubai

The historic match-up from the Australian Open will take the court again on Thursday in Dubai.

Published February 16, 2011 12:00

Francesca & Sveta: Rematch In Dubai
Francesca Schiavone

DUBAI, UAE - 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.

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Schiavone, the No.3 seed, broke the Chinese qualifier in six of her eight service games en route to a routine 63 61 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 57 62 64 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."

Kuznetsova leads Schiavone in their head-to-head series, 8-5.

The seeds were spotless during the day session. No.2 seed Vera Zvonareva rebounded from her semifinal loss in Pattaya City with a 63 61 win over Roberta Vinci; No.4 seed Samantha Stosur rolled past Pattaya City finalist Sara Errani, 60 61; No.6 seed Jelena Jankovic beat Chanelle Scheepers, 62 63; No.7 seed Victoria Azarenka scraped by Peng Shuai, 46 62 76(5); and No.8 seed Agnieszka Radwanska beat Anastasija Sevastova, 75 64.

"To get off to a start like that in any match is good, and especially here in Dubai where I've struggled in the past," Stosur said in her post-match press. "The last few matches I've played, I've lost in a couple of tight three-setters. To be able to turn those few losses around into a win like today is really pleasing."

No.9 seed Shahar Peer, No.10 seed Marion Bartoli, No.11 seed Flavia Pennetta, No.12 seed Kaia Kanepi, No.15 seed Alisa Kleybanova, Patty Schnyder and Ayumi Morita also advanced to the round of 16 on Day 3.

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