Dinara Safina had a terrible time winning her semifinal match against Venus Williams. Serving for the match at 6-7, 6-3, 5-4, 30-15, Safina made the final game a microcosm of the entire match. She double-faulted--not the only time she would do that--which helped give Williams four break points. But every time she was close to being broken, Safina came up with blistering winners that gave her a chance to start all over at deuce. She blew a couple of match points, but was finally able to close.
Williams dominated the beginning of the match, though Safina was able to force a tiebreak in the first set. Williams won that set, and then went up a break in the second. Things didn't look too good for the world number 1 on paper, but we're talking about Thrill Ride here, and she was happy to turn the set--and the match--around, amid many curves, bumps and traps. That's how she operates. Not surprisingly, Williams' forehand became a deficit, and eventually, so did her backhand. In the end, Safina--despite lapses--was just too tough mentally.
The match lasted over three hours, and was one of the best matches I've seen this year--a true thriller.
Safina's opponent in the final will be Svetlana Kuznetsova, who has been playing superbly in Rome. Kuznetsova finished off a sullen, error-prone Victoria Azarenka, who never got past her (justified) displeasure over a bad line call early in the match. Kuznetsova won the match 6-2, 6-4.