The ghost of Daniela Past--the Hantuchova who could always be counted on to choke--is like an evil twin who can stay locked in her room only so long. And like the evil twin of all bad literature, Daniela Hantuchova's breaks the lock just when she can do the most damage. Hantuchova won the first set of her Australian Open semifinal against Ana Ivanovic, 6-0. She simply could do no wrong, taking time to set up her points, and using her forehand to dazzling advantage.
She broke Ivanovic in the first game of the second set, then held. Then Ivanovic held, and in the fourth game, the evil twin came out and started messing with Hantuchova's forehand. For the rest of the match, Hantuchova would hit a series of forehand volleys that sometimes looked as though they were headed for another court. The momentum changed, and Ivanovic took the second set.
The third set was one that featured, for the most part, high quality tennis from both players. Hantuchova sometimes constructed her points carefully, and other times, she would play like the Hantuchova of old--going for broke when it was not at all prudent. But even though her game was fading, she still had great moments, and Ivanovic--by this time the mentally tougher of the two--gave Hantuchova plenty of chances to change the momentum again. It did not happen, though. In the sixth game, there were seven deuces and only one break point, and when Ivanovic won, there was a strong sense of destiny for her.
There were numerous arguments over line calls, with both players not getting what they wanted from the chair umpire. At one point, when a linesperson called a shot in that was out, Ivanovic asked the chair umpire to overrule, but she did not. Ivanovic had one challenge left after making some truly silly ones (as did Hantuchova) and apparently, she did not want to use it then.
Hantuchova should have won this match, but when a very tough opponent teams up with your evil twin, things go wrong.
Final score: Ivanovic def. Hantuchova, 0-6, 6-3, 6-4
Sharapova will need to serve better in the final than she did against Jankovic. Jankovic's injury kept her from taking advantage of Sharapova's suddenly weakened serve, or we might be seeing two Serbs in the final.