French Open: Francesca Schiavone beats Pavlyuchenkova

Francesca Schiavone
Schiavone is looking to repeat her 2010 Roland Garros success

Defending champion Francesca Schiavone fought back from a set and 4-1 down to beat Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and reach the semi-finals of the French Open.

Pavlyuchenkova, the Russian 15th seed, broke three times to take the first set 6-1 and was within two games of her first Grand Slam semi-final.

But the Italian fifth seed turned the match on its head to win 1-6 7-5 7-5.

Schiavone will next play France's Marion Bartoli, who defeated Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia 7-6 (7-4) 6-4.

Bartoli, the 11th seed, is the first Frenchwoman since Mary Pierce in 2005 to reach the semi-finals at Roland Garros.

Pavlyuchenkova, the 2006 world junior champion, raced into a 4-0 lead in the opening set and clinched it with a third break of serve in the seventh game.

The Italian, struggling with the windy conditions on Court Philippe Chatrier, won just two points on the 19-year-old's serve in a dismal performance.

It was a similar story in the second set as the Russian took a 4-1 lead but Schiavone dug deep to win six of the next seven games and take the match to a decider.

Schiavone landed a running backhand pass to break in the first game of the third set and seemed to be cruising to victory at 5-1.

But she faltered serving for the match, losing the game to love and allowing Pavlyuchenkova to level at 5-5.

However, Schiavone broke serve to regain the initiative and, after seeing two match points saved by the Russian, she sealed victory with a forehand winner.

Schiavone, who became the first Italian woman to win a Grand Slam when she beat Sam Stosur in the 2010 final, admitted she would have to raise her game if she is to repeat the feat this year.

"It was very difficult for me at the start of the match. I did not play well, I hope I will play better in the semi-final because this crowd deserve to see good tennis," said the 30-year-old.

Marion Bartoli
Bartoli lost to Venus Williams in the 2007 Wimbledon final

"To win the title again I will have to beat two great players."

Schiavone's first hurdle will be Bartoli, who delighted the Paris faithful by defeating the 2009 champion Kuznetsova in one hour 53 minutes on Court Suzanne Lenglen.

Bartoli, 26, won an untidy first set, which featured seven breaks of serve in 13 games, in a tie-break.

The 2007 Wimbledon runner-up went a break ahead in the opening game of the second and backed it up with another break to lead 5-2.

But the experienced Russian clawed a break back in the eighth game as Bartoli served for the match.

Kuznetsova held for 4-5 but Bartoli claimed victory on her first match point when the Russian mis-hit a forehand into the stands.

"I served badly, she put the pressure on," said Kuznetsova. "She also had all the luck, she hit the lines while I was missing by three millimetres.

"But I played so bad. It was worse than the most horrible dream."

Turning her attention to her semi-final meeting with Schiavone, Bartoli said she is confident the home crowd can spur her to victory.

"I will go onto the court with the same attitude, I will think only of winning," she said.

"With the crowd behind me, I can't see how I am not going to be able to win."

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