Saturday, April 5, 2008

This is her turf

Serena Williams goes up against Jelena Jankovic in the finals of the Sony Ericsson Open, and I'm picking Sister Williams to pick up her fifth title at the event. Jelena won their last match pretty easily at this year's Aussie Open, but I'm expecting a different outcome. Here's why:

• For one, I think the home-court advantage will be huge. Serena feels an affinity for this tournament and crowd unlike anywhere else she plays. So even if she gets down, she'll be looking for the crowd to lift her, which they will be more than happy to do.

• She's in really good form, at least mentally, and I think what really demonstrated that was her win against Svetlana Kuznetsova. Beating Justine Henin the round before was good, but Henin hadn't been playing as much and I think was a little rusty. Svetlana is as fit a player as there is on the tour, and Serena toughing out against her is a good sign, particularly from a mental standpoint.

• Speaking of "mental standpoints," while I think she's made strides, I just don't see Jelena overcoming the moment. This is the biggest final of her career, and with the crowd against her, too, it could be a tough road to hoe out there. But I think this final will do her good for the future, just not today.

I'm expecting a three-set final, though, but Serena will win 6-1 in the last frame.

(Photos: Getty Images)