Venus crushes younger sister in Doha.


Venus Williams sailed into the semi final round of the Sony Ericsson Championship in Doha with a convincing win over Serena 5-7, 6-1, 6-0, to remain unbeaten. She has a record of 3-0, and Serena must beat Dementieva on Friday to qualify for the semi finals with a 2-1 match record. On the other side of the draw Jelena Jankovic and Vera Zvonerava are through to the finals, and after tomorrow matches are completed it looks as though the semi finals will be fought between Venus Williams v. Vera Zvonerava, and Jelena Jankovic v. Serena Williams.

Are these final four the best players in the world? If Maria Sharapova had been fit and able to play I believe she would have made her way into this select group at the expense of Zvonerava. And just like in a bottle of old fashioned non-homogenized milk, the cream rises to the top. Venus should be favoured to beat Zvonareva, and Serena holds a winning record against Jankovic, but if Serena plays as badly as she did against her sister, Jankovic will beat her. It has become a familiar pattern of play for Serena to play herself into tournament shape in the first few rounds, if she hopes to win she had better be in top form to defeat the world’s number one player.

The four players who have been forced to pack their bags at the end of a long tough season, will head home to rest, to contemplate the year they have had, and to speculate on what they could have done better. For Ana Ivanovic her season started so well, with a win at Roland Garros and the clinching of the number one ranked player spot left vacant by the unexpected retirement of Justine Henin. But after her success in France it was all down hill. She played badly, she cried on court, she lost her cool, she complained of tiredness and injury, and she was quickly replaced at the top spot by fellow Serb Jankovic.

For Dinard Safina, who wound up as Number 2 at the season’s end, it must have been a satisfying year. In a nutshell she grew up. She played with a maturity and patience that she had never shown before, and unlike her brother Marin Safin, she kept her cool, sucked it up when a call went against her, smiled politely and continued on with the game. She had a streak of three wins in a row, and made it to a Grand Slam final.

Svetlana Kuznetsova is moving home to Moscow after calling Spain home for a long time. She played solid tennis throughout the season, and remains as a fixture as top ten player. She and fellow Russian player Elena Dementieva are the two models of consistency in the women’s game, between them they make it to more quarter and semi final matches than most other players. Winning the gold medal must make 2008 a successful season for Elena.

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