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Last Updated: Saturday, 10 January, 2004, 16:29 GMT
18 Francesca Schiavone
Francesca Schiavone
Born: 23/6/80
Nationality: Italian
Seeded: 18
World ranking: 21
Australian Open best:
3rd round (2002)
Recent record:
2003: 1st round
2002: 3rd round
2001: 1st round
After a disappointing 2002, Schiavone improved her all-round game to move back up the rankings last year.

The Italian is happiest on clay but had her greatest success in 2003 on hardcourts, most notably a quarter-final place at the US Open.

Indeed, the claycourt season was something of a disappointment for the Milan-born player, with a second-round exit to Julia Vakulenko at Roland Garros the low point.

However, although her run to the hardcourt final in Canberra in January was followed by three straight defeats, there were signs of improvement.

That was finally reflected in results during the American season, with two semi-final defeats to Kim Clijsters in the space of three weeks.

Good form and a relatively kind draw took her to the last 16 at Flushing Meadows.

There she had one of the best wins of her career against Ai Sugiyama, before falling to Jennifer Capriati in the quarters.

Ranked higher than ever at 20 in the world, the next step for Schiavone is to win her first tour title - although Melbourne is unlikely to be the place she does it.

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