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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Australian Open 2009 - Thoughts on the Women's Semi's




Dinara Safina (RUS) vs. Serena Williams (USA)



There was not much drama in the semi's today although each point was really hard fought. Serena and Elena were toe-to-toe with lots of powerful shots traded between each other. I just felt, again, that Elena's serve let her down, allowing Serena to take up those opportunities. However, Serena really tightened the screw when it mattered most and deservedly, gets another shot at the title.



Dinara was also a wonder to see. No struggles this time although she did have a lot of unforced errors. However, again, when it mattered most, she took the opportunities available to her and converted them into points.



The final should be an exciting and tough one. Gauging from their plays today, I would give Serena, the fighting chance to win the title. If she is accurate and powerful as she was today against Elena, Dinara, would have to rein in her unforced errors and trade shots with the power queen toe-to-toe, not only to win her first Grand Slam title, but also a number 1 ranking.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Australian Open 2009 Fearless Forecast - Women's Draw

The first week of the Australian Open is almost over and by tomorrow, the tournament should be on its fourth round already. I have seen most of the top players already and the shape they are in and I'm making here some fearless forecasts for this year's first Grand Slam. I'll begin with the women first.

Upper Draw Semi's: Jankovic (SRB) vs. Safina (RUS)

Jelena has not really been tested yet but should face two tough matches before she gets her semi slots, Bartoli whom she plays next should make her run around more, and let's see how she tries to get over Zvonareva, who is in renaissance mode right now, after being runner-up to Venus at last year's year-end championships.

Safina should get her semi slot much easier as she should battle past the talented newcomer, Cornet and a probable QF encounter with the resurgent Dokic.

Lower Draw Semi's: Dementieva (RUS) vs. Williams, Serena (USA)

Elena, who comes here with two titles already, should be able to go past Cibulkova and Venus-slayer, Suarez Navarro. I haven't seen her play yet, so I hope she's not too tired after all those tournaments before this. She has not been pushed too either so, she has definitely reserved some strength for the second week. Serena, although looking heavy and sluggish, is not always easy to put down, especially here in the Aussie Open, as she has won every other year since 2003, if I'm not mistaken. If she gets past Azarenka, another talented newcomer, Kuznetsova should be easier to defeat.

Prediction to Meet in the Final: Safina (RUS) vs. Dementieva (RUS)

It should be an all-Russian final and even at that, it's a tough call to say who will win. Safina should already have sufficient prowess and mental toughness to get over Jankovic, who, although, number one, does not have the power game. I think Dinara should be able to overcome Jankovic's tenacity this time as they have played each other several times last year. Dementieva is due for another Grand Slam finals appearance and should be able to get over Serena again this time, as she did a week ago in an earlier tournament.

Both these ladies are overdue for a slam already and I would be very happy to see any one of them get the crown this year. Even for Jankovic! She just defends so well, it would be probably the first time I'd see a woman's player who defends so well, to win a slam. Most slam champions are attackers by nature, and Jelena does not really fit that bill to a T.

Fearless Forecast: Australian Open 2009 Men's Draw



For the first time in years, the men's draw invites another probable slam winner in Andy Murray, who is most likely to bloom into a major player in the men's draw this year. Of course, potential is one thing, realizing it is another. Djokovic did that last year, Murray hopes to do that this year. Interestingly, the Aussie Open does not have the regularity of a Nadal-Federer match up in its finals, what with Marcos Baghdatis, Fernando Gonzalez and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga as finalists to eventual champion, Roger Federer, in the past 3 years. For this year, here is my fearless forecast -



Upper Draw Semi's - Nadal (ESP) vs. Murray (GBR)
Interestingly, Nadal has never been to the semi's of this tournament but he should be able to make it this year. He still has to get through Haas and probable match-ups with Gonzalez and Monfils before he gets his semi slot. Of the three, Monfils should be the one to give him the most resistance. Murray is heavily favored to win this slam this year, due mainly to his conquest of Roger Federer in two tournaments this year. However, Nadal is also a strong nemesis, especially in Grand Slams, just not this one. Murray still has to face Melzer, and have probable match-ups with Verdasco and Tsonga before he gets his semi slot. If he meets Tsonga, that should be the most interesting match-up of the three.
Lower Draw Semi's - Djokovic (SRB) vs. Federer (SUI)
Federer was devastating against Safin today, and although he still has to meet up with Berdych (another one of his past vanquishers) and a probable meeting with new sensation, Del Potro, he should be able to get his semi's slot without any problems. Djokovic will have to deal with Baghdatis first, and probably with Roddick, before he gets his semi's slot.



Prediction for the Finals: Murray (GBR) vs. Federer (SUI)
If Murray does not let up, he should be able to pass through Nadal, who has not gone this far in this tournament, although I looovvvee his new look! Federer should be able to avenge his loss to Djokovic last year in the semi's. He seems hungry again. As for the winner, Murray should be able to overcome the nerves of being in this stage of a Grand Slam. However, Federer has the track record of winning when it matters. Should be an interesting final to see.