Our photographer Jimmie48 is already at the Nürnberger Versicherungscup, catching up with qualifying action and taking shots of Eugenie Bouchard's practice, while semifinals of the Internazionali BNL d'Italia have shaped up and we have two Serbs, Ana Ivanovic and Jelena Jankovic, reviving their old glory, one home player Sara Errani and the-always-in-the-top Serena Williams. Interesting developments!
We always expect Serena to win, but it's good to see Ivanovic building up on her victory over Maria Sharapova in the previous round, and Jankovic and Errani going against the odds!
The first to advance today was Sara Errani. The Italian recorded her first Top 3 victory and took out Li Na 6-3 4-6 6-2 by committing much less unforced errors than her opponent – 21 to Li's 52. The win is even greater for Errani if we consider that she had been 0-6 against Li, with all the losses coming in straight sets, plus, her record against Top 5 players was 1-32! Next for Errani is JJ, who made a breakthrough of her own, defeating Agnieszka Radwanska for the first time since 2008 and after five straight losses, 6-4 6-4. Errani and Jankovic are tied at 1-1 in head-to-head stats.
Ana Ivanovic had a tough task, facing claycourt master Carla Suarez Navarro, but the Serb didn't collapse after her stunning triumph against Sharapova and continued to stride through the draw, beating the Spaniard 6-4 3-6 6-4. Ivanovic's next obstacle will be Serena Williams, who has not been showing ill effects of her thigh injury, advanced with a 6-1 6-3 victory over Zhang Shuai. Our first thought may be that Ivanovic's fate is sealed now, but don't forget that she defeated Williams in their only meeting this year – at the Australian Open, after coming back from a set down. Serena's head-to-head record against Ivanovic is 4-1.
Notice that Ivanovic is the only 2014 semifinalist who has never lifted a trophy in Rome. Jankovic and Williams both already have two Rome titles to their names, Jankovic won the tournament during her career peak in 2007 and 2008, while Williams triumphed in 2002 and last year. Ivanovic's and Errani's best result in Rome were the semifinals – Ivanovic reached the final four in 2010, Errani in 2013. However, note that Errani won the tournament in doubles in 2012.