BRISBANE, Australia - Showing she's as fit and motivated as ever at age 31, Francesca Schiavone prevailed in an absolute marathon in the quarterfinals of the Brisbane International on Thursday, defying from all kinds of deficits - including double match point in the second set - to beat Jelena Jankovic.
Schiavone, the No.3 seed, had lost four of their six previous meetings, and the pattern seemed to be repeating itself as the No.6-seeded Jankovic built a 75 41 lead. Schiavone wasn't letting it go that easily, eventually getting the break back - but serving at 5-6 later in the second set she fell behind 15-40.
Schiavone saved those match points and won the second set tie-break, 7-2.
"Even though I was down, I had much, much more energy left," Schiavone said afterwards. "Maybe my energy went a little bit down after I lost the first set, but then I saw her and she was a little bit tired, too, so I knew I had to push her hard and keep going. Then I caught her and played a really good tie-break."
Jankovic made another surge at the start of the third set, going up 3-1, but Schiavone rebounded with five straight games to close it out, 57 76(2) 63, in two hours and 56 minutes. Schiavone finished with 108 points, Jankovic 106.
"I feel good. I can play long matches," Schiavone said. "Here I'm playing again tomorrow, which will be tough, but at Grand Slams you have one day to recover, so it's easier. But with some exercise tomorrow, I'll be ready to play."
Awaiting Schiavone in the semifinals will be Kaia Kanepi, who survived some tense moments to close out No.2 seed Andrea Petkovic in their first career meeting, 61 76(7). With her serve in full flight - she hit 11 aces in the match - Kanepi raced out to a 61 53 lead, eventually holding her first match point at 61 54 - Petkovic fought it off and took the set to a tie-break, where she fought off three more match points before finally succumbing to the Estonian.
Petkovic was disappointed. "I wasn't really satisfied with my performance today. When somebody starts really well they put a lot of pressure on you, and I forced a little bit too much and made more errors. But she played really, really well today, and I have to say, if she keeps playing like this she'll be a force.
"I really like coming to Brisbane though. This is my third year in a row now, and I have relatives here, so I really enjoy myself every year. I always stay as long as possible. Actually the last two years I skipped Sydney and stayed here for another four or five days. Hopefully I can come back here next year."
Schiavone leads Kanepi in their head-to-head series, 4-2, although in their last meeting it was Kanepi who won, in Moscow last fall, 64 57 76(7). Kanepi didn't save any match points there, but was down 5-1 in the third set tie-break.
"There were a few rallies I could have gone for the lines a little more," Clijsters said. "Iveta's so good when she has the ball on her racquet, she can just dictate. I don't know if she's harder to read because she's a lefty, but she is harder to read, so I needed to be in charge of the rally as soon as I could."
Awaiting Clijsters in the semifinals is Daniela Hantuchova, who received a quarterfinal walkover on Wednesday from No.4 seed Serena Williams, who rolled her ankle during her second round win and subsequently withdrew.
Clijsters is a perfect 9-0 in her head-to-head with Hantuchova, only one of those matches going to three sets. But they haven't played since 2007.