Venus on a mission

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MELBOURNE, January 25 – Sixth seed Venus Williams clawed back from a set down to beat make the Australian Open quarter-finals on Monday and said she was ready to break her title drought in Melbourne.Williams, a seven-time Grand Slam winner, dug deep to overcome Italian 17th seed Francesca Schiavone 3-6, 6-2, 6-1 as she works to win one of the few tournaments to elude her.

She is in her 11th Australian Open campaign but is yet to take the singles crown, in stark contrast to sister Serena, who is a four-time champion and defending her title.

But Williams is not beating herself up about her comparative lack of success in Melbourne, insisting a major part of her game plan was staying positive.

She said she could break the drought this year.

"Yeah, I’m ready to go and I feel very good," said Williams, who has won five Wimbledons and two US Open titles.

"Obviously, I’m hitting the ball pretty good, especially against her today. She was really playing well.

"I’m comfortable with my game, absolutely."

It was a good recovery against Schiavone with an out-of-sorts Williams seemingly headed for a shock defeat when she lost the first set.

But she recovered her composure to gradually take control against the increasingly frustrated Italian.

"She played really well in the first set, I have to give her credit," Williams said.

"She just played really aggressively. She was making her shots, doing everything she needed to do to win the match.

"But, you know, it takes a lot to close out a match, especially on an important match like that one.

"I was able just to get some footing back in and start to execute the way I wanted to."

The 29-year-old American appeared almost disinterested during the 38-minute first set, but after taking a short "bathroom break" she came out a different player in the second.

Shots that were going long and wide in the first set began to fall in, while Schiavone, who hardly missed in the first set, began to succumb to the pressure as the match wore on.

Williams’ serve, which usually allows her to win a host of cheap points, also picked up with her first serve percentage success rate increasing from 45 percent in the first set to 67 percent in the third.

It was Williams’ sixth win over Schiavone in as many meetings and only the second time the Italian has taken a set off her.

Williams now faces a quarter-final against surprise packet Li Na of China, who beat Danish fourth seed Caroline Wozniacki 6-4, 6-3, ahead of a possible semi-final showdown against Serena.

Li beat Williams at their only previous meeting, at the 2004 Olympics.

"She’s a very good player," Williams said of the Chinese 16th seed.

"Obviously to beat Wozniacki, you have to play very well consistently, I’m sure she did that.

"(She) probably will try to do that in the next round."

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