Birmingham Semifinal Preview

11 Jun

In the first of three blog entries today, I will preview the ladies’ semifinals at the AEGON Classic in Birmingham.  The small grass court event is on of the most intimate on the WTA tour and a favorite stop for the players, except when it’s raining, which has indeed happened more times than not this week.  Yesterday Maria Sharapova, the 2nd seed, played in two matches in one day due to the rain  and won them both, against Mattek-Sands of the USA and Kudryavtseva of Russia.  Her match against qualifier Alison Riske and the other semifinal, which includes Rezai of France and Li of China has also been previewed.

Maria Sharapova hitting a forehand at the AEGON Classic in Birmingham.

Alison Riske (USA) vs. (2) Maria Sharapova (RUS)

Everyone knows who Maria Sharapova is and it certainly isn’t a surprise to see her in the semis at Birmingham, as she has won this event twice (2004 and 2005) and was runner-up to Jelena Jankovic in 2007.  But, her opponent tomorrow is a 19 year-old American qualifier who before this week had never won a main draw match in a WTA tour event.  In an on-court interview after her three set win over (3) Yanina Wickmayer, she said her quarterfinal showing last week in Nottingham, an ITF event, helped her in her matches this week in Birmingham.  Riske’s match tomorrow should be much harder than all of her previous matches in her career, but if she is able to catch Maria on a bad day and play some spectacular tennis, an upset could be on the cards, but with the way Sharapova has served this week, I think it’s safe to say that Maria will march into the final.

Prediction: Sharapova in 2

Road to the Semis


1st round- bye

2nd round- def. Mattek-Sands 6-0, 6-3

3rd round-def. Kudryavtseva 6-3, 6-1

Quarterfinals-def. Karatantcheva 6-2, 6-4


Qualifying 1st round- def. Savchuk 6-4, 7-5

Qualifying final round- def. Tomljanovic 6-4, 6-7, 6-4

1st round- def. Zahlavova 7-6, 4-6, 6-0

2nd round- def. (9) Wozniak 6-2, 6-4

3rd round- def. Chakvetadze 4-6, 7-5, 6-1

Quarterfinals- def. (3) Wickmayer 6-7, 6-4, 6-3

(1) Li Na (CHN) vs. (4) Aravane Rezai (FRA)

This semifinal matchup features the breakout star of the Australian Open, Li Na of China and the breakout star of the European clay court season, most notably by winning the title in Madrid, Aravane Rezai.  Both players’ games suit grass nicely, with Li able to hit countershots off of Rezai’s explosive power.  If we base this match off of recent results, then Rezai is the clear-cut winner, but Li reached the final here at the AEGON Classic last year by beating Maria Sharapova, so she will defiantly have the confidence at this particular venue.  So with that said, this match will come down to which player can be more aggressive off of the serve and groundstrokes and coming to net wouldn’t hurt either.

Prediction: Rezai in 3

Road to the Semis


1st round- bye

2nd round- def. Keothavong 6-2, 6-4

3rd round- def. Kerber 4-6, 6-3, 7-5

Quarterfinals- def. Kanepi 6-4, 6-2


1st round- bye

2nd round- def. Rodionova 6-3, 6-4

3rd round- def. Lucic 7-5, 6-3

Quarterfinals- def. Errani 7-6, 7-5

Li Na hits a forehand at the AEGON Classic in Birmingham

Don’t forget to check back in later for semifinal previews of the Gerry Weber Open in Halle, Germany, where Roger Federer is hoping to win the 12th grass court event of his career and of the AEGON Championships at Queen’s Club where upsets have been the theme of the week.


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