(4) Maria Sharapova vs (9) Ana Ivanovic
Saturday’s blockbuster semi-final sees Maria Sharapova take on Ana Ivanovic, a rematch of their Cincinnati epic. This is certainly one of the biggest rivalries on tour at the moment; there will be a lot of tension in the air when these two step onto the National Tennis Stadium for a spot in the final at the China Open in Beijing.
Maria has rocketed through to the semi-finals in Beijing, Like Ivanovic she is yet to drop a set this week. Maria cruised through her opening two matches, overcoming Kanepi and Svitolina in two straightforward sets. The Russians two most recent victories over Suarez Navarro and Kuznetsova panned out in a similar fashion. Maria raced through the opening set before being tested in the second. Despite lapses in both matches, Maria managed to close out both matches in straight sets. The fourth seed has played a large number a three set matches this year, so it’s a real positive that she has been able to reach the semi-final stage without dropping a set.
Ana Ivanovic advanced to the semi-finals courtesy of a walkover as Simona Halep was forced to pull out of their quarter-final meeting. After a strange straight set loss to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the opening round at Wuhan, Ana has rebounded well in Beijing, securing her spot at the WTA finals in the process. Ana is yet to drop a set this week in Beijing, in the opening round the Serb demolished Belinda Bencic 6-2 6-1 before getting the job done against Oprandi in the second round. In the third round, Ana proved too solid for Lisicki, prevailing 6-3 7-5. Ana will come into this match full of confidence having won two in a row against Maria.
Maria has a dominant 8-4 head to head record over Ana Ivanovic, however Ana has won the two most recent encounters between the two. Earlier this season in Rome, Ana eased past a fatigued Maria Sharapova 6-1 6-4 whilst in Cincinnati Ana defeated Maria 6-2 5-7 7-5 in what was arguably the match of the season thus far. The match had everything, thrilling winners, exhausting rallies, laughable unforced errors and a whole lot of tension. Maria is playing well this week and is the ultimate competitor; she will be desperate to avoid losing three straight matches to Ana. I fully expect her to win this, probably in straight sets.
Prediction: Maria Sharapova to defeat Ana Ivanovic in 2 sets