Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Li and Sharapova advance to French Open semifinals

Victoria Azarenka, the highest seed left in the French Open quarterfinal draw, is out of the tournament. She was defeated today, clinically and without fuss, by 6th seed Li Na. Li. The 4th seed, who has yet to get beyond the quarterfinals in a major, broke her opponent in both sets, but Li appeared to treat the breaks of serve as minor annoyances, rather than match-changing events. She was able to easily break back, as Azarenka was forced to become increasingly defensive (but not in a good way) as she ran out of ideas.

Li was her usual hard-hitting self, but she also demonstrated enough creativity to make this a straight-set win. She beat Azarenka 7-5, 6-2; in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open, she beat her 6-3, 6-3. At this point, the Belarusian is feeling The Curse of the Golden Flower, with a different--but equally deadly--plot line.

Maria Sharapova's destruction of Andrea Petkovic in the other semifinal was an odd affair. Sharapova cruised through the first set 6-0 while Petkovic appeared to have wandered onto Court Suzanne Lenglen by mistake and picked up a racquet for the hell of it. I say this not to take anything away from Sharapova; I guess it just proves that Petko still has a problem in the nerve department.

In this match, the German also had a problem in the serve department, making it even easier for Sharapova to push her around. Petkovic had an awakening in the second set, however, and figured out that making Sharapova move vertically was a good idea. Once she broke the 7th seed, I thought she might gain enough confidence to make a match of it. But Petkovic is no Li Na. She fought the wind the entire match, and could not find the balance between keeping the ball away from Sharapova and keeping it inside the lines. To make matters even worse for her, Sharapova's movement was quite deft (though I still wish she could slide), and her mentality--needless to say--was much stronger.

After an hour and a half, Sharapova defeated the 15th seed 6-0, 6-3, and thereby reached her first major semifinal in three years.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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