Scheepers comes so close to beating Schiavone
Francesca Schiavone rallied from one-set down and fought off a match point in a US Open third-round victory over Chanelle Scheepers on Friday — a fairly routine day for Italy’s marathon woman.
“I think sometimes I could play a little bit less, but sometimes I am like this,” said Schiavone, whose four-hour, 44-minute triumph over Svetlana Kuznetsova in the fourth round of the Australian Open in January is a women’s Grand Slam record.
Saturday’s 5-7, 7-6 (7/5), 6-3 clocked in at just under three hours.
Schiavone, the 2010 French Open champion and runner-up at Roland Garros this year, said she would have liked to finish things off sooner against the 81st-ranked Scheepers, but without a power game it’s not always possible.
“I don’t play like Serena — boom-boom,” said Italy’s world number eight, who at 31 is the oldest woman remaining in the tournament. “I have to work harder.”
Scheepers had served for the match at 5-4 in the second set, but fired a fierce backhand long on her lone match point.
Two games later, Schiavone had a chance to secure the set against Scheepers’ serve, but the South African held on through three break points to force the tiebreaker.
Once the match was all-square, it was a back-and-forth battle in the third.
Schiavone had medical treatment before the final frame, the physio massaging the muscles around her ribs to loosen her up after she felt short of breath.
Then, she turned up the heat.
“In the third set I started to push like I had to,” said Schiavone, who next faces Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova for a quarter-final berth.
The 17th-seeded Russian beat former world number one Jelena Jankovic of Serbia 6-4, 6-4.
Scheepers, a 27-year-old based in Florida who broke into the top 100 for the first time last year, said she just tried to forget about blowing her match point and keep fighting.
“I just went out in that third set and tried to do the same thing I did in the first two sets,” she said. “She lifted her game a little bit, that made it more difficult.”
Then again, Scheepers said, that was to be expected against Schiavone, who had the enthusiastic backing of the crowd on the intimate Grandstand court.
“She never, ever gives up,” Scheepers said.