Australian Open 2011: Women’s Semifinals Preview

Written By: achangeofends - Jan• 26•11

First Semifinal: Caroline Wozniacki (1) vs. Li Na (9)

Li Na of China jubilates after defeating Andrea Petrovic of Germany during their women’s singles quarterfinal round match at the Australian Open Grand Slam tennis tournament in Melbourne, Australia, 25 January 2011. EPA/DENNIS M. SABANGAN fotoglif937516

Amazingly Li Na is the only player who made it to last year’s final four at the Australian Open, yet she is the lowest ranked player left in the draw. Li is playing a level much higher than her No. 11 ranking, having gone undefeated this season. She won the title in Sydney, beating Kim Clijsters in the final and has yet to drop a set at the Australian Open en route to the semis.

Wozniacki is No. 1 in the world, but she has yet to win a major. Although, classification as a Slamless No. 1 isn’t so surprising when you consider that Caro’s only 20 and it’s very possible she’ll win a Slam this year, possibly even this week.

Both women have done a great job of getting to the semifinals. As I mentioned, Li Na hasn’t dropped a set, while Caroline has only dropped one set. If you asked me two day ago, I would have surely pegged Caroline as the favorite in this match, but that was before she struggled through her quarterfinal against Francesca Schiavone. I’ll admit Franny did an incredible job of recovering from her nearly 5 hour 4th round battle, but theoretically, Wozniacki should have been able to take advantage of the opportunity she was given. In the end, she did change up her strategy mid-match, which was extremely effective, and the mark of a good No. 1.

All in all, I think Li and Wozniacki both have a chance to win. If Caroline is on from the very first point, I think she has the skills to defeat Li Na, but if her mind wanders for even a game or two, Li will capitalize on the opportunity. Li Na is playing the best tennis of her life and I think she’ll keep on rolling right into her first major final.

Prediction: Li Na def. Caroline Wozniacki in 3 sets

Second Semifinal: Kim Clijsters (3) vs. Vera Zvonareva (2)

Vera Zvonareva of Russia celebrates after defeating Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic during her women’s quarterfinal match at the Australian Open Tennis Tournament in Melbourne, Australia, 26 January 2011. Zvonareva won in two sets. EPA/FRANCK ROBICHON fotoglif942569

These two seem to be running into each other a lot these days, but I guess that comes with the territory of being No. 2 and No. 3 in the world. For a long time Kim kind of owned their head to head, but recently Vera’s been on a roll, except for that whole US Open debacle, but I don’t really like to talk about that. Anyway, we all know what happened at the US Open. Vera’s game disintegrated and Kim crushed her. However, Vera has actually won three of their last four meetings, including the most recent encounter at the Year End Championships. So, what does all this tell us? Nothing. Basically, both women are completely capable of beating the other given the right circumstances. So let’s check out the circumstances.

Kim hasn’t had the most difficult draw this week in Melbourne. On paper, her most well credentialed opponent was probably Dinara Safina, who she demolished 6-0 6-0 in the first round. Although, we all know Dinara isn’t the toughest test right now. So, it’s no real surprise that Kim hasn’t dropped a set yet. However, I don’t like Kim’s form as much as the scores say I should. She’s had some real off moments. Luckily, they haven’t cost her anything yet, but as the opponents get better, there’s a much bigger chance that one of them will capitalize on one of Kim’s short mental lapses and end up winning the match.

Oddly enough, Vera’s mental game looks sharp. You can’t doubt her abilities after making two consecutive Grand Slam finals after never having made it to a final before. While the debate rages on whether she should be ranked No. 2, she’s been steadily pushing her way closer and closer to winning a major title. I believe in her and her game. She’s a great returner and has the ability to win against most opponents. Through much of her career, she tended to fall apart when things got tough, but that’s not the case anymore. Vera appears to be happy and healthy and winning. She’s done a great job so far this tournament, only dropping one set to Bojana Jovanovski, an incredibly talented Serbia youngster.

This match is tougher to call because both women are playing so well. Kim Clijsters is a heavy favorite to win the title, probably because she’s the only woman left in the draw who’s actually won a Grand Slam. The odds are against me since Zvonareva completely broke down in their New York match, but I believe she has what it takes to get through this match and to win this title.

Prediction: Vera Zvonareva def. Kim Clijsters in 3 sets

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