Today's first Sony Ericsson Championships semifinal turned out to be the grueling, drawn-out contest I assumed it would be (though I wasn't expecting to hear prayers in the background). After numerous breaks of serve (they might as well have been playing on red clay), Vera Zvonareva let a 5-1 tiebreak lead slip away, but wound up winning the tiebreak, 8-6. In the second set, the momentum shifted, and Elena Dementieva played some of her best tennis. It looked as though that momentum was solidly with her, but Zvonareva went up an early break in the third set, and became more and more focused as the set went on.
This was an entertaining match. Zvonareva and Dementieva have similar strengths and weaknesses, and sometimes their shots were mirror images. There were some spectacular rallies, some amazing volleys, and some silly mistakes. As a bonus, there was one hilarious moment when the two were practically on top of each other at the net.
Dementieva's mental toughness is overrated, as I have said before. It was Zvonareva who remained tough in this match, and it was she who prevailed, 7-6, 3-6, 6-3.