Friday, May 16, 2014

Is there magic dust in that Italian clay?

Li Na beat Sam Stosur for the first time in her career, Ana Ivanovic beat Maria Sharapova for the first time in seven years, and today, in the quarterfinals, Jelena Jankovic beat Agnieszka Radwanska, 6-4, 6-4,  for the first time in six years. What's going on in Rome?!

I was supposed to be somewhere else late this morning but I was ill and had to stay home. The upside is that I got to watch the Jankovic-Radwanska match. That was a lot of fun, and JJ was just on fire. The only other time she beat A-Rad, it was also on clay. Rome is, of course, Jankovic's "blessed" city, and it's really nice to see her reach another semifinal. She won the event twice, in 2007 and 2008, and it appeared she would win it a third time, in 2010, when she took out both Williams sisters. However, in that final, she was spun, dropped and tricked into submission by an outrageously creative Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez.

Sara Errani is still the last Italian standing. She beat Li Na 6-3, 4-6, 6-2.

There is a backstory to Li's error-filled performance. She's having some type of allergic reaction to something at the tournament, and she vomited right before the match. Of course, the Chinese star has been known to produce a lot of errors on several occasions, but today, she was apparently feeling pretty ill. This was, by the way, Errani's first win over a top-3 player.

It took her three sets, but Ana Ivanovic defeated Carla Suarez Navarro. Finally, Serena Williams beat Zhang Shuai 6-1, 6-3.

Jankovic will play Errani in the semifinals, and Williams will play Ivanovic. If Jankovic winds up in the final against Williams, we can all hope that those two put the antics aside (I was in Charleston, courtside, in 2013, and believe me when I tell you that--although JJ should have let it go--the chair umpire flagrantly and repeatedly ignored the rules regarding the serving player's time priority). If Jankovic winds up in the final against Ivanovic, you can be sure that the commentators will have a field day strirring up old issues that both women put aside long ago.

Of course, the final could feature Errani and either Williams or Ivanovic. Probably less drama in that case.

Errani will do double duty tomorrow because she will also compete in the doubles semifinals. She and partner Roberta Vinci will play Julia Goerges and Anna-Lena Groenefeld. In the other semifinal, Anabel Medina Garrigues and Yaroslava Shvedova will play Kveta Peschke and Katarina Srebotnik.

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