BRISBANE, Australia - After an incomplete first round victory, Francesca Schiavone truly got her season off to a winning start with a second round win at the Brisbane International on Tuesday, showing nerves of steel on the big points to make it past Galina Voskoboeva in straight sets, 64 64.
Schiavone, who is currently hovering just outside the Top 10 at No.11, struggled with Voskoboeva's raw power at times, but in the big moments was far stronger, converting 50% of her break points (3 of 6) and saving 89% of the break points against her (Voskoboeva converted 1 of 9). The Italian veteran also brought out some of her own power during the match - she fired six aces.
In the first round Schiavone won by retirement against another Kazakh, Ksenia Pervak. Pervak had to stop at 4-all in the first set due to a migraine.
"After so long, you want that feeling of really winning a match. It was a great sensation today," Schiavone said. "I worked hard in the off-season, physically and mentally. I was working on improving the overall quality of my tennis. I did my best every day, so it's great to be here and in the quarterfinals now."
"Jelena is a great player. We played a couple of times last year and had great matches," Schiavone said. "It's always tough to play her. She's consistent. I think my play can hurt her, so if I play her, I'll just try to play my game."
The No.3-seeded Schiavone wasn't the first player into the quarterfinals though. Earlier in the day it was No.2 seed Andrea Petkovic who snapped up that honor, surviving a marathon one-hour, 19-minute first set against Barbora Zahlavova Strycova then cruising through a 29-minute second set, eventually recording a 76(2) 60 victory over the tenacious Czech player.
"I played a little stupid in the first set," Petkovic said. "I was playing one dimensional, forcing the points. Just boom, boom, boom. Barbora's such a clever player and has all the shots, changes up the pace and moves incredibly well, so playing one dimensional is the most stupid thing you can do. After the first set my coach came out and put my head in the right spot. I started giving her some high balls and changing the rhythm, then hitting a fast one."
Brisbane is where Petkovic's breakthrough season started in 2011, as she made it all the way to the final ranked No.32. She is now No.10 in the world - her career goals have changed somewhat since then, and she talked about that.
"My overall goal was always to be in the Top 10, and I've reached that, so now I'm focusing on improving my game," the 24-year-old said. "I have a lot to improve. It's not easy - improving your game sometimes has a price, that you may lose some matches while you're changing some things. But I have to change some things if I want to win the big titles, so this is the right way to go."
Later in the afternoon, Daniela Hantuchova became the third player into the final eight, rallying from a set down and an early break in the third to beat American qualifier Vania King, 46 62 63. Hantuchova also came from behind to win her first round match on Sunday, trailing No.8 seed Dominika Cibulkova 63 20 but eventually making it past her fellow Slovak, 36 64 63.
At night, No.5 seed Kim Clijsters had an incredibly streaky 61 16 63 win over fellow former No.1 Ana Ivanovic, winning the first set in just 21 minutes, losing the second set in just 23 minutes, then winning six games in a row from 3-0 down in the third set to prevail. Clijsters improved to 5-0 lifetime against Ivanovic.