St. Petersburg SF: (4) Ana Ivanovic vs (2) Roberta Vinci
Saturday’s first semi-final in St. Petersburg promises to be a fascinating encounter between Ana Ivanovic and Roberta Vinci. The careers of these two ladies have gone in totally different directions over the last couple of months. Ivanovic would usually head into a match against Vinci as a strong favourite but on this occasion it is Vinci who could rightfully claim favouritism. The contrast in styles between these two will make for a good spectacle.
Ana Ivanovic is now in a good position to reach her first final since Brisbane last year. The Serb has progressed through her opening two matches in St. Petersburg with relative ease, recording straight set victories over Margarita Gasparyan and Kateryna Kozlova. Ivanovic admits that this in an important week for her, recognising that this is a great opportunity to gain some much needed confidence after an extremely poor start to the season in Australia.
Roberta Vinci’s form has been solid ever since her shock run to the final in New York last year. The Italian veteran certainly gained a lot of confidence after her victory over Serena and seems to have a renewed sense of hope and belief. Vinci strolled through her opening round match in St. Petersburg, claiming a straight set win over Yanina Wickmayer but was forced to work much harder for her 7-6 4-6 7-6 quarter-final victory over Timea Babos. Vinci trailed by a break for the majority of the deciding set but did well to stick around and wait for Timea’s level to drop. Vinci was more solid when it mattered most in the deciding set tiebreak and she ultimately fought her way to a gutsy win.
Ana Ivanovic has a 6-3 head-to-head record over Roberta Vinci, however the Italian has won 3 of the last 5 encounters between the pair. Their most recent match was back in 2013 in Carlsbad, Ivanovic won that match 6-1 6-7 6-2, prior to that match Vinci thumped Ivanovic 6-0 6-0 at the Rogers Cup in 2012. This seem like a pretty even match-up on paper.
I’m going to give the slight edge to Roberta Vinci heading into this match. Vinci’s form has generally been better than Ana’s and she has a lot more confidence in her game. I think the surface will also help Vinci in this match-up, the relatively quick and low bouncing surface will allow Vinci to disrupt Ivanovic and draw errors. This should be a close one.