During the first set of the Sony Ericsson Championships semifinal between Jelena Jankovic and Venus Williams, Jankovic didn't really appear to be there. I suspected she might be hampered by her back or hip (always a good guess with her, and she experienced a hip dislocation during her stay in Doha). Venus Williams easily took the set, 6-2.
But in the second set, Jankovic was moving and swinging much more freely, while Williams looked uncertain, and began making errors. Tennis Channel commentator Corina Morariu's theory sounded just right to me: that Jankovic's back stiffness had decreased simply because of a set's worth of movement. Jankovic took that set, 6-2.
The third set, as expected, was a total battle, with nerves of steel suddenly going soft, and neither 40-0 nor 0-40 having the significance they generally have. The sixth game almost deserved its own umpire and scoreboard, it lasted so long. Jankovic and Williams always have great matches, and this one--though a bit strange because of the first set--was no exception. In the end, it was Williams who prevailed, steeling herself toward the end of the last set, and breaking Jankovic to win the match, 6-2, 2-6, 6-3.
This is Williams' first Sony Ericsson Championships final.