I had my Saturday morning all planned out to watch the second of the semi-finals between Serena Williams and Simona Halep without knowing the result. I was gutted to find the match not available on TennisTV with the word “withdrawn” next to Serena’s name. I’m pleased to hear that Serena’s announcement went down without any issues on Stadium 1. Despite that disappointment, I am super excited about the 2015 BNP Paribas Open final, which will be contested between Simona Halep and Jelena Jankovic.
Jankovic came from a set and a break down to beat Sabine Lisicki in the semi-finals, 3-6 6-3 6-1. All of Jankovic’s five wins against Lisicki have come in three sets and it ended on a low point with a Lisicki double fault. It had all started so well for Sabine. She played a strong first set as she dominated from the baseline, but also had some margin on her shots. There were a couple of great cat-and-mouse points, but Jankovic never really got going. Even at the beginning of the second set, Jankovic was quite passive and was allowing Lisicki to dominate. Lisicki deservedly went up a break of serve in the second set. However, the tide started to turn… Jankovic started to get into a few more rallies and find the magic on her backhand. Up a break at *3-2, a second serve shank from Lisicki (see below) seemed to be a bit of a turning point as Lisicki lost her concentration a little as Jankovic went on to win four straight games and the set. Jankovic carried that momentum into the decider as Lisicki fell away…
Kudos to Sabine for a great week that should *hopefully* turn her year around. One thing I notice when Sabine starts winning is that she has a lot of fans out there and they deserved some joy! Moving onto the final between Jankovic and Halep, this should be a really fascinating encounter. Halep leads the head-to-head against Jankovic, 3-1. Halep has won their last three matches, but all their matches have gone the distance. In fact, their first three matches finished with 7-5 or 7-6 scorelines in the deciding set.
Both Halep and Jankovic have played their fair share of three setters this week. Halep was pushed to three sets against Daria Gavrilova (2-6 6-1 6-2, R2), Varvara Lepchenko (6-1 3-6 6-1, R3) and Carla Suarez Navarro (5-7 6-1 6-1, QF). Excluding the retirement against Lesia Tsurenko, all of Jankovic’s matches have gone the distance and she has come back from a set down in three of her four completed matches. Halep hasn’t played since Wednesday, which I don’t think will help her cause. Halep will be seeking her first Premier Mandatory title which is a big deal and will come with added pressure. However, Halep has fought her way through some tricky moments and will have confidence, riding the wave of a nine match winning streak. Jankovic loves these conditions but my feeling is that Halep, who could start slow, will eventually prevail to take the title in the desert.
Great match, ladies. I’m REALLY looking forward to this one.
Prediction: Halep d. Jankovic in 3 sets