photo credit:Scott the Hobo
At the 2010 Miami Open the women’s singles semi final matches have now been completed and have set up a compelling final on Saturday 3 April. The semi finals turned out to be one closely fought match, followed by an absolute thriller, which suitably determined who takes over as the No.1 ranked Belgian on Monday.
The 1st semi final between the No.13 seed Marion Bartoli and No.3 seed Venus Williams was hard fought, with the 29 year old Venus continuing her longest unbeaten streak in the past 6 years of 15 wins from her last 15 matches this year. Venus has won 19 matches to just one loss so far in 2010. The American won 6-3 6-4 to give herself a chance to win her 3rd title in a row this year, after already capturing the Dubai Open in the United Arab Emirates and Acapulco in Mexico.
The 1.85m Venus is playing in her 4th final in Miami where she holds a perfect record of 3-0 in these finals. The hottest player on the WTA Tour this year won this title in 1998, 1999 and 2001. The 7-time Grand Slam singles champion seems hell bent on reclaiming the World No.1 ranking or at least No.2. By claiming either of the Top 2 ranking spots she would earn the luxury of only meeting her sister in the final of any tournament. Venus looks like the early favourite for her beloved Wimbledon this year.
No.14 seed Kim Clijsters (pictured above) and (WC) Justine Henin played their 2nd consecutive match, which was decided by a final set tie-break that went to 8 points to 6 in the tie-break. Clijsters raced out to a 6-2 3-0 lead and had a game point to go up 4-0 in the 2nd set. The quality of play was not so good, when in true Henin style, the 7-time Grand Slam singles champion fought all the way to the end. Henin saved 3 match points before Clijsters hit a clean forehand winner to convert her 4th match point to post a 6-7 (5-7), 6-3, 6-4 win.
The final set of the 2nd semi final lived up to all expectations with a thrilling showdown by the 2 players who share so many similarities. Both women retired from the game, both are in the early part of their comebacks to the game, both players are from Belgium, both have been ranked World No.1 and are multiple Grand Slam champions.
Despite her loss, the 27 year old Henin is heading into the clay court season as the early favourite to win yet another Roland Garros title. The interesting thing to follow over the next 2 months will be how high she can get her ranking so that when she comes up against Clijsters it will be in the final. On Monday Henin will move in to the Top 20 even after only playing 4 tournaments. This means she will be seeded from now on, therefore the 1.67m champion will not meet the other top women in the early rounds of tournaments anymore.
In respect to playing against Venus in the final, Clijsters said, “You know, Venus is a player that if she’s playing her best she’s really tough to beat. Then again, I think you always have to believe in your chances.” Venus said of her possible match up with Clijsters, “My main goal is to obviously execute my game. That’s pretty much it. So I don’t necessarily get so focused on who’s across the net. I’m really focused on, you know, the task at hand with me when I get a chance to hit the ball.”
Clijsters is a dual US Open singles champion who loves the hard courts in America. The 2005 Miami champion has just the type of game that can cause the big hitting Venus problems. Despite trailing Venus in their head to head battles 5-6, Clijsters has won their last 3 matches in a row, so should be the favourite in this match up.
Venus loves to go after her shots but always walks a fine line between forcing too much and being successful in balancing her unforced errors against her winning shots. Clijsters is usually a very consistent player who covers the court very well which is a good combination for drawing your opponents into errors. This means Venus will have to be on top of her game in order to put the ball out of her fellow former World No.1’s reach when it counts the most.
After her semi final victory, Venus commented on how she has improved her winners to unforced errors ratio, “If anything, I understand the game more and how to play the point better and situations. I think when you’re younger you just kind of go through it, especially someone with a game like mine. But I guess sometimes you take more chances sometimes for the best and sometimes not for the best. I guess at this point, I feel like I’m at that balance of knowing when to hit which shot.”
Clijsters revealed her game plan for the final in her post match interview when she said, “I just really tried to stay focused and tried to just do what I did really well in the first set. That was just really move in, and whenever she was slicing just step in and don’t wait for it. Just really be aggressive. I think that’s the game that I have to play against whoever I’m playing.”
The problem with any unbeaten streak is that the longer it lasts the sooner it is likely to end. Will it be Clijsters winning streak against Venus or the 2010 unbeaten run set by Venus that ends? The OCA prediction in what is set for a great final, is Venus in 3 sets.
Stay tuned to this tennis website for further information and results at the 2010 Sony Ericsson Open in Miami for both the men and women’s events. Click this link for more details -> Miami 2010: March 22-April 4.
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