Alright so now that the Australian Open, the first of the Slams, is in the semis, I’m making my official predictions for the Final. (Note: I did make an initial prediction, I admit. It was for Cljisters…sigh)
Women’s: I think this is a relatively simple prediction. Yes, the Chinese players are the up-and-comers but I really don’t think it’s their time yet. S. Williams (#1), a 5’10 mass of muscle, will be playing Na Li (#17), a 5’4 waif. Li has beat a lot of great players in her run (from third round): Hantuchova (#25) in a three-setter, Wozniaki (#4) in two, and V. Williams (#6) in three. The game against Venus was brutal. The average break point conversion was 54 per cent and the match featured a combined 110 unforced errors. Wow. Venus had 11 double faults, five alone in the third set. Both players did a bad job. Now Li has to face the bigger and badder version of Venus in her sister, Serena. Game over. Serena hasn’t had it as easy as no doubt she wishes. The quarterfinal game against Azarenka (#7) looked to be lost but it’s never over for Serena. She fought back to win in three sets. Her other opponents were relatively easy two-setters. She won the Australian Open last year, can she do it again? On the other side, the comeback kid, Henin (unranked) is playing Jie Zheng (#35). Henin is hungry after coming out of retirement. It’s clear in the way she has been playing. I really don’t know much about Zheng but the last two rounds (quarters and fourth round) she won in two sets. She hasn’t had to work as much as, say, Cilic. Henin is fresh off her win against Petrova (#19) whose rank doesn’t give her justice. I just have a gut feeling and it’s going with Henin.
Serena vs. Henin? Well, I prefer Henin. I really can’t stand the way Serena plays tennis, too much force and no delicate, jaw-dropping shots. Henin is more the artiste—the style I enjoy watching. Henin also looks a lot smaller than she actually is. Sites range her height from 5’4 to 5’6, which is small for tennis but she just looks so tiny out there. If she can make Serena move, that’s key. Azarenka, when she was in the lead, had Serena moving all over the court and, with her size, it’s to her disadvantage. But you don’t want to make Serena mad. Somehow, her anger makes her better. She’s like a bull with smoke coming out the nose, I would not want to be on the other side of the court at that point. Will delicate play defeat brawn and power? I don’t think so. I think Serena will win, but it’ll be a three-setter with Henin winning the first set.
Written after the final: So, turns out I was pretty bang on. Williams won the championship, but Henin did take one set, just not the first one. The final score was 6-4, 3-6, 6-2. Looking at the match statistics, they are close. Serena had 90 total points won with Henin at 85. They had a combined unforced error of 69 (way better than the 110 between Li and Venus). I prefer Henin but I don’t make predictions based on preference. She is a force to be reckoned with coming back out of retirement and you’ll see her in more finals for sure. Now for Federer to dominate against Murray….PLEASE!