Serena Williams, Jankovic the Favorites in Miami Semifinals

Posted on April 3, 2008

The women's Final Four is set at the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami.

The first semifinal of the day pits No.3 seed Svetlana Kuznetsova against No.8 seed Serena Williams.

Kuznetsova is attempting to become the seventh player in Sony Ericsson WTA Tour history to beat both Williams sisters at the same tournament, having taken out Venus Williams in the quarterfinals; she is also trying to become the first Russian player to achieve the feat.

Serena is arguably the second-most successful player in Sony Ericsson Open history, since the tournament first appeared in 1985; she has won the second-most amount of titles (she won four, in 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2007; Graf won five, in 1987, 1988, 1994, 1995 and 1996); she is currently tied for second-most amount of match wins (she is 45-5 lifetime at the event, while Sabatini was 45-11; Graf is the all-time leader with a 59-6 record).

Neither Kuznetsova nor Williams has lost a semifinal this year, with Kuznetsova going 3-0 and Williams going 1-0; the Russian was runner-up in all three finals she reached however, while the American won the Bangalore title.

Although Williams leads her head-to-head with Kuznetsova 3-1, one of her wins could very easily have gone the Russianís way (she won 46 75 64 in the final of Beijing in 2004, but was down 64 54 and double match point in that game) and they split their two 2007 meetings (Kuznetsova won at Stuttgart, Williams won at Moscow).

The second semifinal of the day pits No.4 seed Jelena Jankovic against No.19 seed Vera Zvonareva.

Both players have had incredibly consistent seasons so far, with Jankovic reaching the quarterfinals or better at all seven events she has played and Zvonareva reaching the quarterfinals or better at six of seven (retiring in the first round of the Australian Open due to an ankle injury); the only difference is that Jankovic hasnít made a final yet (she is 0-3 in semifinals so far this year) while Zvonareva has made two (finishing runner-up at both events).

Jankovic and Zvonareva were both first-time quarterfinalists here and are now first-time semifinalists (Jankovic had never been beyond the third round before, while Zvonareva had never been beyond the fourth round before).

Jankovic and Zvonareva both almost lost in their first matches; the Serb was down 5-1 in the third set and saved five match points against Sofia Arvidsson, while Zvonareva rallied from 63 30 down against Ekaterina Bychkova.

Jankovic has been to three Tier I finals before, all last year, winning at Charleston and Rome and finishing runnerup at Toronto; Zvonareva reached her first Tier I final earlier this year at Doha, finishing runner-up to Sharapova. (WTA)