Two the best women in the world collide Friday in the Indian Wells semifinals as Serena Williams and Simona Halep meet for the first time this year.
The two faced off twice at the end of 2014 splitting two lopsided matches in the WTA Finals with Simona winning the round robin stage while Serena getting revenge in the final.
“I think it will be really good,” Serena said of the matchup after winning her 15th straight match Wednesday. “It’s a good surface for her. I feel like she can definitely come out here, and when we play, play really well. Hopefully I can start playing better.
Halep, who hasn’t been as sharp as Serena, is also on her own streaking winning nine straight. And she still beat Serena 60, 62 in Singapore.
“It was a big day for me,” Simona said referring to her round robin win. “The biggest day, let’s say. You know, I don’t want to think about the tournament because it was like indoor tournament so it was in the groups. I don’t feel that it will be the same here. But still I’m confident and I know that I have my chance to win, but I know as well that she’s a strong player and she knows how to manage every situation during the matches.
“You have just to believe and just to go to your game and try everything to win.”
In the earlier semifinal, 2010 Indian Wells champion will meet Sabine Lisicki. Jankovic advanced when 85th-ranked Lesia Tsurenko withdrew with a right ankle injury at 6-4, 4-1.
“It’s never nice to end a match in that way. Lesia has had such a great tournament and has beaten so many great players,” Jankovic said. “In the second set she started limping and I saw she had some problems. That’s when I lost a little bit of my focus – I was kind of looking at what she was doing.”
The 25-year-old Tsurenko first hurt her ankle during her upset win over Genie Bouchard in the fourth round Tuesday night.
In the last women’s quarter, Lisicki saved three matchpoints at 4-5 to eventually beat defending champion Flavia Pennetta 6-4, 6-7(3), 7-6(4). The German, who had won just one match win on the year, advances to her first Indian Wells semifinal.
“It’s unbelievable,” Lisicki said in her on-court interview straight after the match. “It’s such a great feeling to be part of such a great match. She saved a match point with an unbelievable backhand – I could not have done much different there. And then I saved three match points in the third set.”
Pennetta was trying to become the first woman to defending her Indian Wells crown since Martina Navratilova last did it in 1991.
Jankovic has won four of five against Lisicki.
“To be honest, before I came here I was in doubt if I was going to be able to compete, because I did not have a lot of time to prepare, and if my leg was going to be fine,” Jankovic said. “I had a torn muscle and you cannot do anything about that – I only hit lightly because I wasn’t able to move in order to not rip it again. So I only had a couple days of light hitting, and then I went on court to play.
“But once I hit the court, I was just so excited. I don’t care how I’m playing, or if I’m able to move or not, I’m just so excited to be on the court. I’m sick of being on the sidelines, being in the physio room, just being in my room overall, not being able to stay active and do what I love to do, which is play tennis.
“I’m excited to be performing and competing again. That’s what I love. That’s where I belong.”
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