Wednesday, January 22, 2014

2014 AUS OPEN: Women's Semifinals Preview

The women's semifinals are now set at the 2014 Australian Open. Last year, I predicted 1 of 2 women's semifinals correctly and 2 of 2 men's semifinals correctly.  This year I correctly predicted 1 of 4 women's quarterfinals and 1 of 4 men's quarterfinals. This is the lowest rate of accuracy I have ever had in a major since I started blogging them in consistently so that tells you something about the unpredictable nature of the results in Melbourne this year.

Serena Williams (USA) [1] Ana Ivanovic (SRB) [14] Eugenie Bouchard (CAN) [30] vs Na Li (CHN) [4]. Like most tennis observers, I figured that once Ana Ivanovic played the match of her life to eliminate Serena Williams from the tournament, she would have no problem doing the same with the 19-year-old ingenue from Canada. But Eugenie is no ingenue and she has a big game, which she showed in the deciding set of her first ever major quarterfinal, to reach her first ever major semifinal. Last year it was teenaged American Sloane Stephens breaking out into the higher echelons of women's tennis by beating Serena and this year it is a Canadian. The problem for Bouchard is that she is playing the only remaining major champion in the draw, a 2-time Australian Open finalist who plays her best tennis here, and whom she has lost to before in their one meeting, at a tournament in her own country. That being said, the teenager has nothing to be ashamed of, no one expects her to reach her first major final in her first opportunity, so maybe she can use that to provide complications for Li Na's now apparently inexorable path to her 2nd major title. Mad Professah's pick: Li in 2 sets.

Simona Halep (ROU) [11] Dominika Cibulkova (SVK) [20] vs Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) [5]  Victoria Azarenka (BLR) [2]. The diminutive Dominika Cibulkova has towered over the field, beating three consecutive Top 16 seeds on her way to reaching her 1st major semifinal in Melbourne so you know she is happy to improve her previous 0-3 record in major quarterfinals. I thought that she would come down to earth after outlasting Maria Sharapova. However, she is playing Aga Radwanska who has a 5-1 career head-to-head record against her. If Dominika struggles against Aga most of the time, how will she do when Aga must be playing some of the best tennis of her life? Radwanska did what some thought was the impossible by finishing a bagel third set against the 2-time defending champion at this tournament, a person whom she had lost 13 of 15 career meetings against! Surely winning one more match should be the easier task.This should still be an interesting match because although Aga has double bagelled Dominika in the past, the one win she has occurred in last year's final at Stanford on the hard courts in the American summer. That match was on some people's shortlist for most significant matches of 2013.  That being said, I do not believe Aga will squander another opportunity to reach a final at a major where none of the big 3 remain in the tournament, especially with Serena Williams missing.  Mad Professah's pick: Radwanska in 2 sets.

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