Schiavone to face Dementieva in semis

PARIS -- After Francesca Schiavone became the first Italian woman to reach the French Open semifinals since 1954, she collapsed face-down on center court and kissed the clay.

Schiavone upset No. 3-seeded Caroline Wozniacki in Tuesday's quarterfinals 6-2, 6-3. Seeded 17th, Schiavone is the first Italian woman to reach the semifinals at any Grand Slam tournament in the Open era, which began in 1968.

"I'll tell you the truth: I can't grasp the historical nature of what I did," Schiavone said. "But the importance of this victory, in itself? Yes. ... I'm enjoying it so much. When you work a lot, hard every morning, every afternoon of your life, and arrive at a good result, I think you feel much more."

Schiavone's opponent Thursday will be No. 5-seeded Elena Dementieva, who rallied past fellow Russian Nadia Petrova 2-6, 6-2, 6-0. The showing is Dementieva's best at Roland Garros since 2004, when she was runner-up.

The 29-year-old Schiavone had been 0-3 in major quarterfinals and hadn't reached the final eight at Roland Garros since 2001. This time she made the most of her chance.

Playing on Roland Garros' center court for the first time in her career, Schiavone won with steady, sometimes looping groundstrokes, limiting errors while mixing the pace to keep Wozniacki off-balance. Rallies sometimes became moonball exchanges reminiscent of the wooden-racket era.

"She's definitely a difficult player to play against, because she plays with a lot of spin," Wozniacki said. "She plays differently. She mix up the balls a lot. She didn't play typical women's tennis."

Schiavone played serve and volley to win the next-to-last point. After she slammed an overhead winner on her final shot, she leaped, raised her arms with a scream and lifted her racket over her head in jubilation.

Then she kissed the clay.

"It was a thank you," Schiavone said. "I was quite willing to eat some clay."

She improved to 8-40 against players ranked in the top five.

Schiavone broke serve six times, won 13 of 16 points when she reached the net and enjoyed a 25-10 edge over Wozniacki in winners.

"I didn't give her many chance to let her play easy," Schiavone said. "I played long and sometimes short and tried to come to the net. It was a good mix."

Wozniacki, at 19, was the tournament's youngest quarterfinalist. She was playing in her second Grand Slam quarterfinal after reaching the U.S. Open final last year.

The quarterfinals began on a cool, damp afternoon with occasional rain that had some spectators watching from under umbrellas. Dementieva pulled away by hitting 11 winners in the third set, when Petrova won only 12 points.

In the final two sets, Dementieva lost only 10 points on her serve -- three because of double-faults.

Petrova was hampered by a strained left thigh, which she had rewrapped midway through the first set. Dementieva also received treatment during the 17-minute break, when a trainer taped her right thigh.

"I'm very happy, and I hope that one day of rest will give me a bit of time to recover and play well the semifinal," Dementieva said. "It was a very difficult match. The conditions were not easy for anybody. It was obvious we played with minor injuries today."

Petrova, seeded 19th, upset No. 2 Venus Williams in the fourth round. But the Russian has now lost her past five matches against Dementieva.

"I left everything out there on the court," Petrova said. "Being hurt in the quarterfinal, it's not a fun thing."

In the quarterfinals Wednesday, No. 1 Serena Williams will play No. 7 Samantha Stosur, fresh off a 2-6, 6-1, 6-4 upset over four-time champion Justine Henin. That ended Henin's streak of 24 consecutive victories at Roland Garros since her most recent defeat in 2004.

Williams beat No. 18 Shahar Peer 6-2, 6-2.

No. 4 Jelena Jankovic will next face unseeded Yaroslava Shvedova. Jankovic defeated No. 23 Daniela Hantuchova 6-4, 6-2, and Shvedova became a Grand Slam quarterfinalist for the first time by beating wild card Jarmila Groth 6-4, 6-3.