While the women stole the show with two drama-filled matches, men’s semifinal day at Cincinnati went quietly by the book.
David Ferrer had no trouble whatsoever with surprise semifinalist Julien Benneteau 6-3, 6-2. The Frenchman who stunned Stan Wawrinka looked out of energy and that’s never a good thing especially against a hyper-fit guy like Ferrer.
The victory moves Ferrer into his first final in Cincinnati and his 7th overall in Masters play.
“Of course I am in a good moment,” said Ferrer who won the Paris Masters in 2012. “I am in my first final this year in a Masters 1000, so I’m happy for that. (I take it) step by step and focus for tomorrow.”
And in the final he’ll meet his longtime nemesis Roger Federer. Due to a lengthy women’s semi, the Swiss started his match after 10pm against Milos Raonic, but fortunately finished off the Canadian quickly and without much effort 6-2, 6-3 to remain undefeated at 6-0 against the World No. 7.
Federer broke Raonic immediately and that was that. Milos got into the match in the second but he just has no answer to Federer’s serve. And when Roger hits it low against the taller Raonic, it often pays off.
“I’m playing much better [than last year. I can move freely again,” Federer told ESPN on the court. “I’m happy the results show. It’s more fun playing this way. Now I am playing the right away.
“It’s great for the confidence to switch from clay to grass to hard courts and keep on playing well. I’ve had a very complete season so far,” added Federer. “This is my eighth final of the season. I hope I can win another final here.”
Of course Ferrer is a totally different match than Milos. But a matchup he’s more than comfortable with. Federer’s dominated Ferrer winning all 15 of their matches, including one last week in Canada where David actually won one of his four career sets against Roger.
And really if Roger plays like he’s been playing – serving well, decent from the net (like tonight), he should get through Ferrer. Roger’s never lost in the Cincinnati final in five prior appearances so that’s a huge edge.
On the other side of the net, I have to ask, who’s Ferrer beaten this week? Remind me. Tommy Robredo? Benneteau? Ferrer knows he’ll probably never have a draw like that again to a final this big. But hey, he’s in the final and he’ll give it a shot, I just don’t think it’ll be enough. Federer absolutely needs this win.
The pick: Federer in two
I felt going into today the main attraction would be the women’s semifinals with four of the biggest. most marketable stars in action. And it didn’t disappoint.
Former No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki pushed her good friend Serena Williams once again but for the second straight week she just didn’t have enough in the end losing 2-6, 6-2, 6-4 in a bizarre match that featured 15 breaks of serve!
“I got off to a little bit of a slow start, but I was definitely in it,” Williams said after the match. “I was just physically grinding and trying to get in there and really just trying to grind out everything.
“She’s a really good returner and she was getting everything back, and making some good shots. It wasn’t just on the return, she was able to play some really good points after the return too. She’s playing great tennis, even better than what she’s been playing in the last couple years, taking that defense and adding a lot of offense to it and going for her shots. She does both really well.”
Things got even weirder in the evening when former French Open champions Ana Ivanovic and Maria Sharapova met. Ivanovic stormed out to a 6-2, 4-0 lead before Maria did what Maria does best: comeback.
Sharapova won five of the next six games to take the second set. Then after a strange mid-game blood pressure timeout for Ivanovic early in the third (for choking, what else?), the matched seemed destined for another Sharapova win.
But Ivanovic somehow fought back, fended off two matchpoints late and took the semifinal 6-2, 5-7, 7-5 in one of the crazier matches you will ever see.
“I really got a little tight,” Ivanovic admitted on her second set collapse. “I wasn’t moving my feet forward enough and played a little passive. But she’s a champion and was fighting so well.
“I just had to regroup in the third set, and I’m so glad I could win this match tonight.”
So it’s Serena and Ana in the women’s final and Ivanovic beat her at the Australian Open this year. So don’t be quick to dismiss the Serb.
“For me, the most important thing is recovery for tomorrow and trying to be fresh,” Ivanovic said. “It’s going to be a great match, I think. We played three times this year already.
“I think it’s going to be a great test for me as well to play against Serena. She’s the No.1 player in the world and she’s a great champion, so I think it’s going to be a good match. I hope it goes well.”
Ana’s playing well, but after such an emotional win how will she be able to recover in time for Serena. I don’t see it so I like Serena here.
ESPN2 has complete coverage of both finals starting at 2pm with the women. What a day of tennis.
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