|Caroline Wozniacki plays a shot to Francesca Schiavone during the women's quarter-finals at the Australian Open on Tuesday. (REUTERS/Petar Kujundzic)
MELBOURNE, Australia -- Top-seeded Caroline Wozniacki overcame a slow start to beat sixth-seeded French Open champion Francesca Schiavone on Tuesday and advance to her first Australian Open semifinal.
The former U.S. Open runner-up Wozniacki overcame a 3-6, 1-3 deficit to post a 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 victory at Rod Laver Arena, taking advantage of 46 unforced errors committed by her Italian opponent. By reaching the semifinals, the 20-year-old Dane will retain her world No. 1 ranking.
"I've already reached one of my goals of reaching No. 1," Wozniacki said. "Now I'm just thinking about this tournament and trying to win two more matches. That would be great."
Schiavone hit 41 winners, but began to show signs of fatigue as the match moved along. She needed an outlandish 4 hours, 44 minutes to beat two-time Grand Slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova, 6-4, 1-6, 16-14, in the longest women's match in Open Era history here on Sunday.
The 30-year-old Schiavone lasted 2 hours, 24 minutes on Tuesday.
"I don't know, really," Schiavone said when asked if she was tired. "But I had my chance anyway. Maybe in the third set I felt a little bit something physically, but it's not an excuse."
Wozniacki will next face ninth-seeded Chinese Li Na, who dismissed 30th-seeded German Andrea Petkovic 6-2, 6-4 to secure a spot in the semifinals here for a second straight year. She lost in the 2010 semifinals in a pair of tiebreak sets against eventual champion Serena Williams.
Li has won all 10 of her matches thus far in 2011, including a triumph over Kim Clijsters in a final in Sydney two weeks ago. She began the day as one of only three players to have reached the quarterfinals without dropping a set, joining Wozniacki and Clijsters.
Wozniacki has lost two of her previous three meetings with Li.
The quarterfinals will wrap up here on Wednesday when second-seeded Russian Vera Zvonareva meets 25th-seeded Czech Petra Kvitova and a third-seeded Clijsters tangles with 12th-seeded Pole Agnieszka Radwanska.
Zvonareva is 1-1 lifetime against Kvitova, who won their last meeting, in Rome, last season, while the Belgian star Clijsters is 1-0 versus Radwanska, with the victory coming in the fourth round at Wimbledon back in 2006. The lefthanded Kvitova titled in Brisbane to open her 2011 season three weeks ago and was a surprise semifinalist at Wimbledon last summer.
The 26-year-old Zvonareva is trying to reach a third straight major final, while Clijsters, who beat Zvonareva in last year's U.S. Open title match, is seeking a trip into a second straight Grand Slam finale.
The three-time U.S. Open champion Clijsters reached the Aussie Open final seven years ago, losing to fellow Belgian great Justine Henin.