Wednesday, January 23, 2008

School and Semis and Sickness! Oh My!

Well, the three things consuming most of my time right now in life are listed in the title of this post, but sadly I'll get to them in that order. School comes first (as usual), while the sickness just lingers in all that I do, making it nearly impossible to find any time for those precious semifinals.

But, alas, this is a tennis blog - so let's talk semis! As my good friend Troy pointed out, Serbia is SO the new Belgium. With the Serbian sweep of the Williams sisters, we have an interesting three matches remaining to determine who will walk away the women's title.

Semifinal one:
(5) Maria Sharapova versus (3) Jelena Jankovic Head-to-head: Sharapova leads 3-1.

Though Maria holds a 3-1 edge in their head-to-head record, the two have played just once in the last 30 months. That affair was won by Jankovic on grass 7-5 in the third. Needless to say, Maria has been rather on fire as of late. She brushed off Davenport in the second round like she was some desperate housewife, not a comeback player on a tear. From there on out it's been sheer brilliance, highlighted by her straight-set drubbing of Justine Henin.

If there was ever a model for tournament progression, however, Jelena Jankovic would be it. She struggled early, including her epic win over Tamira Paszek and then a rough-tumble-affair with Virginie Razzano. But the last three rounds have looked good from Janky, and her win over Serena will boost her confidence to new-found levels.

Prediction: I'm still sticking with Maria here, who will win her third slam and first Aussie after dispatching Jankovic 3-6 6-2 6-4 in the semifinals.

Semifinal two:
(4) Ana Ivanovic versus (9) Daniela Hantuchova Head to head: Ivanovic leads 2-1.

Could Daniela Hantuchova really make a grand slam final?

It's certainly a possibility, but the way Ivanovic is playing, it's a small one. I give Hantuchova a miniature chance for these two reasons: Ivanovic's nerves and Hantuchova's grit. Dani might be one of my least favorite players, but she can play out when she needs to. Therefore, if nerves sneak into Ivanovic's repertoire and she starts to spray, watch out for the Slovak.

Check out Ivanovic's power and precision (at the net, too!) against Venus in the quarters:

If you haven't noticed yet, I follow the women's tour a little more than the men's. It's nothing against the boys, I just think the girls play a more interesting game.

The semifinal match-up between Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic will be beyond interesting, however. Both men have been playing incredibly, with Fed overcoming Janko Tipsarevic in the third round before steam-rolling Tomas Berdych and James Blake on his way to the semis (See Blake clip below).

As much as I'd love to see the Djoker breakthrough here and win his maiden slam, it's extremely difficult to forecast a win for the Serb over the brilliance that is Federer. My prediction: Federer in four.

As far as Rafael Nadal is concerned, he has a hard-hitting Frenchman awaiting him in the semifinals. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga started this tournament with a bang and really hasn't stopped his drumbeat, beating three seeds in five matches while dropping just two sets while doing so.

Fairytale runs often see reality once again once the semifinals are set, and for Tsonga, his story ends here, against Nadal. Here's looking forward to a Fed-Nadal final and four great semifinal matches to come!

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