Sunday, August 17, 2014

2014 CINCINNATI: Ivanovic Defeats Sharapova In 3-Set Drama; Faces Serena In Final

Ana Ivanovic dominated Maria Sharapova for the first 12 games of their semifinal match at the Western & Southern Financial Open, racing out to a 6-2 4-0 lead when a controversial call came at 30-all which robbed the Serb of a point. Sharapova was able to grab the momentum by breaking and holding serve and eventually stole the second set despite being down 2-5 by winning 5 consecutive games while Ivanovic got more tentative as the Russian hit with more authority. After a quick break early in the 3rd set almost everyone was expecting Sharapova's 8-3 head-to-head record to be decisive. Especially after Ivanovic stopped play soon afterwards in the 3rd set to have her blood pressure checked after she complained of intense nausea and pain.  Ivanovic was able to break back to even the match at 2-all but Sharapova went up a break again to lead 4-2 and 5-4. However, amazingly Ivanovic was able to save two match points on Sharapova's serve at down 4-5 and eventually the Russian double-faulted to even the third set at 5-all. Sharapova was not happy by this turn of events and mouthed clearly "Check her blood pressure!"

However, Ivanovic showed why she leads the WTA tour with the most wins on tour this year by holding serve and hanging touch in Sharapova's service game to go up 4-12 for double match point. Ivanovic squandered the first when she challenged a line skipper that was clearly in but on her second she hit a powerful crosscourt backhand that Sharapova could not handle to end the year's most dramatic contest 6-2 5-7 7-5.

Ivanovic will face Serena Williams in the final. Serena came back to beat her good friend Caroline Wozniacki  in 3-sets for the second consecutive week. This time it was 2-6 6-2 6-4.

Serena leads Ivanovic 6-1 in their career head to head but the sole loss came earlier this year at the Australian Open and the two have played 3 times so far in 2014, with all three meetings going to three sets. The two are playing in their 5th tour final of the year on Sunday, with Serena sporting a 4-0 record and Ana a 3-1 record. If Ana plays on Sunday the way she started the match with Sharapova it will be  a rough match at the office for the World #1. However, I doubt that she ca come back from such an emotional win and put up a similar level of play two days running.

MadProfessah's pick: Serena!

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