You know what's kind of cool about the action over in Asia?
It's before noon Eastern time and all your semifinal matchups are already set! You can plan for a nice lunch, go get your dry-cleaning, actually do some work at the office—all of those options are available. You don't have to stay glued to your desk following the live scoring on the ATP and WTA Web sites! (My whole day isn't devoted to following the scores, but definitely some of it is.)
Anyway, both the men and women are back in Beijing (that is, if they were Olympians) for the China Open. The men's draw got pretty rocked by upsets with the only seed among the top four getting to the semis is Andy Roddick. The women's side has kind-of held form with the biggest upset happening today being Ana Ivanovic getting knocked off again. (Can someone PLEASE tell her to take two weeks off, practice hard, and get her mind and body right?) Some of the guys are also competing in the Thailand Open, where the top four seeds have gotten through, led by Novak Djokovic. And more women are playing at the Hansol Korea Open. The number-two seed there, Shahar Peer, lost in the quarters to Jill Craybas, making for the biggest upset.
Since I have so much of my day left, I figured I'd give a semifinal breakdown for each tournament. Amazing what you can do with a little extra time!
• In Beijing (women, then the men): Jelena Jankovic (1) vs. Vera Zvonareva (5): These two have both been playing well of late, with Zvonareva just picking up a title last week. I'm going with Jankovic in this one, mainly because there's something I don't get: Why does Zvonareva play so many small tournaments like she did last week? She should've been in Japan with all the big guns. I don't think she's going to be prepared for a player of Jankovic's caliber.
Svetlana Kuznetsova (4) vs. Jie Zheng: All right, Kuz, like I said last week: Get it done! Zheng's a tough one, though, (as Ivanovic can attest to) but I'm still going with the top-tenner on this one. And maybe, just maybe, she can pick up a title!
Dudi Sela vs. Rainer Schuettler (7): Sela's had a great run this tournament, particularly knocking off David Ferrer and Tommy Robredo back-to-back. But the veteran Schuettler has also had a pretty good win, beating Richard Gasquet in the quarters. I'm going with Schuettler in this one.
Andy Roddick (2) vs. Bjorn Phau: A-Rod really showed me something today (well, virtually: I was following the score online!) with his win over Juan Carlos Ferrero. He was down a set, but rallied, when he could've bailed and not many would have blamed him after his long Davis Cup weekend. He should be able to blow past Phau, who should be a little tired by now from running down the big shots of Sam Querrey and Fernando Gonzalez, two players he upset to get this far.
• In Thailand:
Novak Djokovic (1) vs. Tomas Berdych (3): If you were to make a list of the top 10 underachievers in the game today, I think you'd have to have Berdych on it. For some reason, it just hasn't come together for him. He should be right up there with Djoko, but isn't by any stretch of the imagination. Djoko in straights.
Jo-Wilifried Tsonga (2) vs. Gael Monfils (4): This is one I'd definitely like to see! There's going to be some serious shotmaking going on here, crazy gets being made … you name it, this one will have it. I like Tsonga in this one, based on his ability to generate more firepower.
• In Korea:
Maria Kirilenko (1) vs. Kaia Kanepi (3): Now, as I mentioned above about Zvonareva, I have the same issue with Kirilenko: Why doesn't she play in bigger events where better players are? You know if it's an event where she's the top seed, she's going to win. That's why you don't see her in later stages of Slams: She's not used to going up against the best. Anyway, I think she'll take out the big-hitting Estonian Kanepi.
Jill Craybas vs. Samantha Stosur: You know, I actually like both of these players: Craybas because she keeps grinding, and Stosur because she hasn't fallen under the lure of just becoming a doubles specialist: She's just a player. This one's a toss-up, but I'm going to pick Stosur.
That wraps up my semifinal previews: I'm going to grab that lunch I was talking about!
An old friend of mine and I used to talk tennis for hours, whether it was our own games or what was happening in the pros. I've started Tennis Talk, Anyone? to, well, talk tennis with an even broader crowd! My name is Van Sias and I've been playing for 20 years now, and not only am I player, I'm a huge fan of the game as well: pro, amateur, you name it. I'll post links to news items related to the sport, and offer my own personal opinion, predictions and hopefully get some of yours as well.