Christopher Phillips, a regular TSF contributor, weighs in on the semifinal match-ups over the next two days in Melbourne. Phillips lives, works and plays in Los Angeles, answering to a number of different bosses. Tragically, last year, he was speechless for weeks after learning of the retirement of Elena Dementieva and is currently on a search to find her replacement in his heart. | More: And for the gentlemen
Well… the semifinals have arrived (almost) as I predicted. An on-fire Li Na takes on faux-kangaroo lover Caroline Wozniacki while Kim Clijsters and Vera Zvonareva meet at a Slam for the third time in a row (they’re 1-1 so far). But where does it go from here?
Li has won all of her matches in straight sets, with the most difficult coming in first round versus Sofia Arvidsson. Li has broken her opponents no less than four times each match while maintaining her own first serve percentage at an average of 72.4%.
Wozniacki, on the other hand, hasn’t won her matches as decisively as her opponent, and I do have to admit I thought Francesca Schiavone still had a chance deep into the third set to win the match. While Caro gutted through to the win, the way she let an injured, fatigued Schiavone dictate the match from the first point I think will be her downfall when she faces a stronger, healthier and confident Li.
Li leads the head-to-head 2-1 with both of her wins coming last year on Australian soil in Sydney and Melbourne, respectively, so I pick her to make her home country proud by being the first Chinese woman to reach a major final.
On the other half of the draw it’s Clijsters pitted against a resurgent Zvonareva. This one could go either way really. Zvonareva’s only dropped one set in five matches – to Serbian Bojana Jovanovski in the second round. Clijsters, meanwhile, hasn’t dropped one yet, but was pushed to one tiebreak in each of her last three matches and looked shaky at times.
Apart from Vera falling apart during the USO final, the Russian beat Kim three times last year – including at Wimbledon. Since Clijsters holds an advantage of second-serve points won (60% to Zvonareva’s 46%), I’m going with Clijsters in three sets in the battle of two baseliners.
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