Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Women's Semifinal Preview

By Mad Professah

The 2009 Australian Open Women's semifinals are now set. Unfortunately, Mad Professah has been busy with other things so I have not been able to produce my typical predictions during the last three rounds of the major slams. I have been watching the tournament (mostly the men) but have seen all of Serena's matches.

Vera Zvonareva RUS (7) vs. Dinara Safina RUS (3). "Marat's little sister" no more, Dinara Safina is well on her way to becoming a fixture in the very top tier of women's tennis. Her career changing moment occured last Spring in Berlin when she beat 7-time Grand Slam champion Justine Henin in her very last tour match (to date!) Safina also defeated fellow 2009 Australian Open semifinalists Serena and Elena Dementieva on her way to winning that title and followed up that amazing performance by remaining the hottest player on the Tour for most of the rest of the year, although she failed to win any of the major tournaments, she did reach her first Grand Slam final in Paris, losing to Ana Ivanovic.

She will be facing fellow Russian Vera Zvonareva who is notorious for her hot and cold streaks on the court. Miss Vera has been serving up bagels at this year's Australian Open, delivering no less than five in the first five rounds of the tournament, including a double bagel against the hapless Edina Gallovits in the third round and a bagel in her quarterfinal drubbing of 2007 Wimbledon finalist Marion Bartoli, who unceremonialy bounced World #1 Jelena Jankovic from the tournament. The matches between Russians are often not very pretty.

Safina has a 5-4 career head-to-head against her lower ranked countrywoman, but the last three times they played (including during Safina's hot phase in 2008) Zvonareva came away the victor. It's doubtful that this will happen in 2009, but it won't be pretty.

PREDICTION: Safina in 3 sets.

Elena Dementieva RUS (4) vs. Serena Williams USA (2). The winner of this semifinal will be the 2009 Australian Open Women's champion. This is truly an example of what happens when an immovable object matches up against an irresistible force. Dementieva has won every one of the first 16 matches she has played in 2009, picking up two WTA Tour titles along the way (Auckland and Sydney), her 12th and 13th of her career. The Russian who has long had the reputation of having the Tour's best groundstrokes and most embarassing serve has previously been to two major finals and last year won the Olympic Gold medal in Beijing (over Safina). However, Dementieva is facing a living legend, the woman who holds the most Grand Slam titles of any active player (9!) and who not only won the last Grand Slam played in 2008, but has won this major tournament with metronomic regularity every other year since 2003.

Interestingly, Dementieva has beaten Serena the last three times they played (on Elena's hometown court in the Moscow final in October 2007, in the Quarterfinals of the Olympics last year and last week in Sydney--that last one in straight sets!) although Serena won the first four times they two met on the court.

Well, that is history, this is now. Who will win?

I would love to see Elena Dementieva win a major title but, sadly, it will not be the 2009 Australian Open. I do think she will reach a major final in 2009, though.

PREDICTION: Williams in 2 sets.


Vicki said...

Serena is playing like crap. Elena has beaten Serena the last three times they've played and is on a 14 match win streak and your picking Serena in two sets. This will only happen if the roof is closed.

Craig Hickman said...

According to the ESPN talking heads, the roof will be closed.

Mad Professah said...

Look at the result. MadProfessah 2, Universe 0. :)