Commentary

Why Wozniacki worries us

Updated: January 25, 2011, 8:42 AM ET
By Ravi Ubha | ESPN.com

MELBOURNE, Australia -- We have a female equivalent of Rafael Nadal on the tennis circuit. Her name is Francesca Schiavone.

Schiavone, who played a draining 4 hours, 44 minutes Sunday, still managed to push Caroline Wozniacki to three sets at the Australian Open. Despite the sluggish performance, Wozniacki gets to keep her No. 1 ranking.

Earlier, Li Na continued to coast, downing Andrea Petkovic.

Here are five things we learned after Tuesday's opening two women's quarterfinals.

The crowd continues to puzzle

Did no one at Rod Laver Arena know what Schiavone did against Svetlana Kuznetsova?

When Schiavone led Wozniacki by a set and 3-1, you could understand the crowd pulling for the Dane. They wanted more tennis. It happens at tournaments everywhere.

But when Wozniacki forced a decider, she was still their favorite.

Why?

Besides the superhuman effort she delivered in the fourth round, Schiavone's proactive game is much more pleasurable to watch than Wozniacki's retrieving style. Further, she's in the latter stages of her career at 30. Maybe Wozniacki's hustle wins them over.

This shouldn't necessarily surprise anyone. The crowd wasn't on seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams' side in the second round against Sandra Zahlavova, even though she was hurting and trailed by a set.

Wozniacki won't win the tournament

Here was a chance for Wozniacki to impose her game on a tired opponent and make a statement.

Yes, Wozniacki did pick it up a little midway into the second set, stepping in more and dictating a few rallies. Plain and simple, though, the sixth seed hit the proverbial wall.

Wozniacki took an injury timeout for a leg problem -- call that ironic after her faux kangaroo tale. If anyone was permitted a visit by the trainer, it should have been the marathon woman Schiavone.

Wozniacki's forehand is not very potent. Rarely can she hit through the ball with force.

In the first set, Wozniacki didn't hit a single winner. She ended with 13 -- and a few of those were off poor Schiavone drop shots. Schiavone hit 41 winners, though she committed even more unforced errors.

"I just want to know who won the match," Wozniacki said. "I think I did that, so I think there is no question. I'm playing to win. If the opponent makes 100 winners, it's too good. But if I still win the match, that's the most important thing in the end."

She won Tuesday because her opponent was fatigued.

Li is one of the favorites

Kim Clijsters was the consensus favorite heading into the tournament. Into the second week, that hasn't changed.

Right behind her, however, must be China's Li Na, not Wozniacki.

Li improved to 9-0 in 2011 with a highly convincing 6-2, 6-4 win over Petkovic. She hasn't lost a set through four rounds.

Li's return game particularly excelled. Petkovic won only 49 percent of points on the first serve and 40 on the second.

Petkovic actually thinks Li is the one to watch.

"I think she's going to win the tournament," said the German, who reached her first Grand Slam quarterfinal. "Sometimes you get the feeling during the match that somebody is really strong and just has that confidence going on, that aura maybe."

Up next for Li is Wozniacki.

Although Li won't throw Wozniacki off balance like Schiavone, she can hit her off the court.

Li split with coach Thomas Hogstedt late last year; Hogstedt joined Maria Sharapova. Cutting ties appears to be paying off.

"Right now feeling more happy on court," Li said. "More enjoy because more communication with team. Right now [I'm] happy around the team."

Li's hubby wears the pants

Li's on-court interviews with host broadcaster Channel 7 have been hilarious. The longer she goes in the tournament, the more she probably gets to spend on a credit card she shares with husband Jiang Shan, who's now her coach.

She was asked if Jiang was getting worried, given her foray to the final four.

"He's totally [in]control," Li said, smiling. "China bank, if you use credit card, they will send text message, like where are you, when and how much you're using. If I use he will for sure know. He will call. 'Where are you?'"

If she wins a first Grand Slam title, perhaps she'll get carte blanche.

Schiavone is a threat on hard courts

Schiavone proved last year's appearance in the U.S. Open quarterfinals was no fluke. By reaching the quarters here, she has now made the final eight in all four majors.

"I think the players feel the pressure because I keep going to change everything on the court, speed and angle," Schiavone said. "So they feel I can do very well, and the people now start to know that I can play really good on hard court."

Oh, Schiavone does have some fans in Australia, it appears.

"Last night I was walking and they say, 'Francesca, you give me a lot of [emotions]. Thank you. I hope you win tomorrow.' I think it's something fantastic."

Ravi Ubha is a frequent contributor to ESPN.com.

London-based Ravi Ubha covers soccer and tennis for ESPN.com.