2008 French Open – Nick’s Pick – Women’s Singles Semifinals
Nick’s Picks will have complete coverage of the 2008 French Open, and is coming to you live from Paris!! Also, Nick is teaming with Tennis Week to provide in-depth analysis of the French Open throughout the tournament! Check out Nick’s Picks for the entire men’s and women’s draws!
Ana Ivanovic (SRB) vs. Jelena Jankovic (SRB)
In this match-up of two Serbians, Ivanovic leads their head-to-head series 5-1. The one and only time they played on clay (Amelia Island 2007), Ivanovic beat her in straight sets. Both girls are playing excellent tennis right now, and despite her record I don’t think Ivanovic will have a big edge in this match. Jankovic knows that this is the best chance she has had at winning a Grand Slam title, and she isn’t going to go down without a fight.
Both of these girls have a chance to become #1 in the world for the first time in their careers if they win this tournament. I am sure they know that, but are trying not to think about it. When breaking down these girl’s games, let’s first look at their forehands. Jankovic has a compact swing and is able to move her opponents all over the court. Ivanovic’s forehand is bigger and is capable of doing more damage to her opponents. She definitely has the edge there.
On the backhand side, both girls hit great two-handed shots. Ivanovic goes for broke, and has a big backswing. Jankovic has a great down-the-line shot, but hasn’t been using it enough. I think she has been hitting too many cross-court backhands, instead of hitting more down the center of the court or down the line if she is inside the baseline.
I think where Ivanovic has a major advantage is on the serve. Jankovic’s serve isn’t the best, and if Ivanovic can take advantage of this she will have a big edge. Jankovic’s edge is in the movement. She covers the court as well as anyone, and is one of the best athletes on the WTA Tour.
If Ivanovic isn’t making many errors with her forehand, and she can break a couple of Jankovic’s service games I think she will win this match.
Nick’s Pick – Ivanovic in 3 sets
Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) vs. Dinara Safina (RUS)
Just like the bottom half of the draw, the top half features two ladies from the same country. Safina has been hanging on by a thread as of late. After just about losing to Sharapova in the 4th round, she was down a set and a break to Dementieva in the quarters before coming back to win. For Safina, this is her first career Grand Slam semi, while Kuznetsova is playing in her fourth (second at Roland Garros). These two have played seven times before, with Kuznetsova holding a 4-3 lead. Of those seven matches, five have been on clay and Kuznetsova has won three of those.
Safina is not a bashful player. She will hit from both sides of the court, and will hit it hard. She has gained plenty of confidence, and she has clearly been inspired by her brother’s past play. Her serve is more than adequate, she moves well, and the crowd has taken to her as if she was French.
It seems like no one talks about Kuznetsova, but let me tell you one thing: She is an athlete! She has exceptional movement, stands very close to the baseline, and takes the ball early. Her groundstrokes from both sides are hit very flat and aggressive. Kuznetsova’s serve is reliable and she will come to the net hitting an ordinary, simple block volley.
Kuznetsova has been here before, as I mentioned above and this will help her tremendously. Her groundstrokes will penetrate and run very fast, pushing Safina back off the court. Safina cannot beat Kuznetsova from 6-8 feet behind the baseline. She will have to come forward on any defensive balls, and will have to go for her offensive shots. Because of the experience the edge goes to Kuznetsova.
P.S. I am sure Marat has given his little sister a call telling her not to come home without the cup!! No matter what happens in this match, Safina should be very proud of herself. She has proven to the tour that she is a top-notch player and that she is here to stay!!
Nick’s Pick – Kuznetsova in 3 sets