Though Sorana Cirstea was hardly hobbling around the court today in her Los Angeles semifinal against Samantha Stosur, she looked kind of flat, and it is logical to conclude that yesterday's foot injury played a role in today's performance. It didn't help that Stosur was putting on a serving clinic. The Australian was crisp and efficient, and in just over an hour, she won the match, 6-3, 6-2.
Not so crisp and efficient was the semifinal played between Flavia Pennetta and Maria Sharapova. The first set was as fine a display of tennis as we have seen Pennetta demonstrate. She served extremely well and defended cleverly, which led to a 6-2 win.
Sharapova became more aggressive in the second set, and Pennetta's level dropped off. At 4-all, there was a turning point for the Russian: Serving at 0-40 after double-faulting twice, she found a way to win the game. She then brilliantly broke Pennetta, showing off all the old Sharapova moves and Sharapova spirit, and taking the set.
The final set was a jumble of double-faulting (Sharapova), unsteady nerves, shifting momentum, unforced errors, shaky service games, and tough rallies. Sharapova went up a break early in the set, but Pennetta caught up. By this time, Pennetta's service game had eroded. We often see this decline in service from Pennetta, who is capable of serving extremely well (as she did in the first set). Pennetta did well to tolerate her own third set shortcomings and continue to take advantage of Sharapova's double faults (16 for the match) and unforced errors. Her 6-2, 4-6, 7-5 victory puts her in the final for the second year in a row.
Pennetta and Stosur have never played one another, which should make this Los Angeles final especially interesting. This is one of those championships in which I hate to see either of them lose.