Thursday, 5 January 2012

Schiavone wins in best match of 2012 so far...

Francesca Schiavone saved 2 match points to beat Jelena Jankovic, 5-7 7-6 6-3 and advance to the semi-finals.  I mentioned yesterday that I was hoping for more drama and sure enough, they delivered up a treat! Jankovic wasted so many chances in this match; she was up 7-5 4-3 and then had 2 match points at 7-5 5-4, but both times Schiavone managed to pull through.  Jankovic also had a 3-1 lead in the final set but lost five straight games to the Italian, who started to use her impressive net game more and more in the 2nd and 3rd sets.  This match showed that Jankovic has still got all the shots, but she is woefully lacking in confidence and mental strength as I have mentioned in previous blogs.  Schiavone once again demonstrated that she is a true fighter till the end and I must say that I am surprised how well she has done this week.  The highlights from the match can be found below...

Schiavone will play Kaia Kanepi in the semi-finals, who continued her rich vein of form with a 6-1 7-6 victory over Andrea Petkovic.  Kanepi got a little tight towards the end of the second set wasting several leads, but she managed to pull the win through in two sets.  She is striking the ball very cleanly and with real ferocity at the moment.  I also liked the passion she showed at the end of the match, which I haven't seen much from Kaia in previous matches.  The other semi-final will see Kim Clijsters take on Daniela Hantuchova.  Hantuchova benefited from Serena's withdrawal and Clijsters had a relatively routine 6-3 6-2 victory over Stosur's conqueror, Iveta Benesova.

In Auckland, the number one seed Sabine Lisicki retired from her match with Angelique Kerber down 4-6 3-4 due to an abdominal strain.  Kerber will now play Flavia Pennetta in a repeat of the US Open quarter-final from 2011.  Pennetta will be hoping for revenge and I expect her to win; she has started the season in fine form not dropping a set on her way to the semi-finals.  The other semi-final will be contested between Svetlana Kuznetsova and Zheng Jie.  Kuznetsova continued to impress with a straight sets victory over Sara Errani, meanwhile Zheng's good start to 2012 gathered pace as she impressively took out Lucie Hradecka.  Unfortunately I cannot see her posing much of a threat to a resurgent Kuznetsova.  As you will have gathered I am a fan of Zheng Jie's and you can see a funny video from her in Auckland below!

The qualifying draw for Sydney has already been released and looks rather epic! The cut-off point for the main draw is the number 25 player in the world, Lucie Safarova, which shows the immense quality of this draw!  It is likely to be out on Saturday so my preview of the draw should hopefully be out before the main draw kicks off  :-)

Semi-final Predictions
WTA Brisbane:
Clijsters to beat Hantuchova in 2 sets
Kanepi to beat Schiavone in 3 sets

WTA Auckland:
Pennetta to beat Kerber in 2 sets
Kuznetsova to beat Zheng in 2 sets

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