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Sarasota semifinal Preview

by J.M.

Anastasia Myskina came through with the goods today when she defeated 5th seed, Elena Dementieva of Russia, in three sets to progress to the semifinals at Sarasota. Myskina blew away her Russian opponent in the first set, producing at 6-2 score. In the second, however, Dementieva proved why she reached the 4th round at Roland Garros last year by evening the scoreline at one set all. She was never in the match though when Anastasia obliterated her in the final set, winning the match with a 6-2 3-6 6-1 scoreline… a well deserved result! Her reward: a semifinal match up against seventh seed, Nathalie Dechy of France, who defeated surprise quarterfinalist, Ansley Cargill, in straight sets.

Dechy has had a pretty good tournament as she has only dropped one set in the process! This should come as no surprise as the French woman is a typical clay courter who can use the surface to her own advantage. 2003 has been a pretty remarkable year for Dechy as well, seeing as though she has won a tournament (Gold Coast-Tier 3), has made the quarterfinals of Scottsdale (Tier 2) and Antwerp (Tier 2), and also made the 4th round of Indian Wells a few weeks ago, where she nearly upended eventual champion, Kim Clijsters, in the process. What can be said of this player then? She knows how to compete with the top players on the tour and can certainly play with the power players, which was evident when she defeated Elena Bovina in Australia earlier this year.

Anastasia has also had a successful transition from the hardcourts to the clay court season. She once said in an interview after titling at Doha that her goal for the year would be to pass the first round at the French Open, as she has never been successful there. With a successful clay court season ahead, this looks like it could indeed happen after reaching the semifinals here at Sarasota. However, she has a couple of problems in reaching this stage of the tournament after dropping sets to Nadia Petrova, also of Russia, and Dementieva. In fact, she has only played Russian opponents in the past two rounds so maybe the tension between her and her opponent will ease as she heads into her match with Dechy. This match should therefore bring out the best in her and move her into her second final of the year! The draw has also widened up for immensely as there are no seeded players remaining in the top half after the defending champion and finalist of last year who both knocked out in their first round matches.

Dechy’s Clay Court Statistics:

Nathalie has an impressive clay court record and will be a very dangerous opponent for Myskina. She made the final of Estoril in 2000 (Tier IVA), the semifinals of Paris (Tier II) in 1999 and the quarterfinals of Berlin in 2002, where she defeated former French Open champion, Aranxta Sanchez Vicario and Meghannn Shaughnessy in the process, who were both seeded players. This proves that she is not afraid of taking on the higher ranked players and considering the year she has had, her confidence levels must be booming to the extent to which if Myskina is not on her guard, Dechy could pull another upset in the tournament which has lost all seeds but herself and Myskina. Overall, her clay court record is a solid 44/37.

Head-to-Head Record:

Myskina and Dechy have played each other three times with Myskina leading the race with 2 wins to 1. Their results are as follows:

1 Leipzig 2002 Myskina (6) d. Dechy 2-6 6-1 6-3

3 Indian W. 2002 Myskina (28) d. Dechy 7-6 7-5

2 Strasbourg 2000 Dechy (4) d. Myskina 4-6 6-2 6-2

Anastasia has won their two previous meetings which a good indication that she has a great chance of defeating Dechy in this tournament. However, these matches were not played on clay and the only match Myskina lost to Dechy was on clay in 2000. Although both players have changed over the past three years, Dechy will have this advantage of going into the match knowing that she defeated Anastasia on clay. Nevertheless, both players will be fighting for a place in the final as the heavy favourite due to the remaining semifinalists (Alicia Molik and Iva Majoli) being unseeded.

Prediction:

Myskina to win 7-5 7-5 or thereabouts.

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