Victoria Azarenka and Jelena Jankovic's encounter is about to get underway, so before it's too late, I better share my predictions with ya'll for Doha. FYI, the top two performers from each round-robin group will form the semifinals, in which the top performer from the white group would meet the second best from the maroon, and vice versa.
Take a quick little gander at this group and without even thinking I'm sure you all can tell that the White Group is slamless. They happen to be a bunch of headcases who have each made headlines in their own, special way. All the better for us, as we get to watch the drama unfold between the four of them. Dinara Safina headlines the group. She started off the year beautifully, reaching the finals in Australia and Paris and reaching the semis at Wimbledon. Her BRUTAL loss to Venus Williams in that semifinal started the unraveling process for Safina, and she hasn't been the same since. Wozniacki has been sort of the opposite, as she started 2009 poorly, but kicked it up a notch and reached the US Open final. Azarenka has been pretty up-and-down, as the Belarusian reached the final eight in Roland Garros and at Wimbledon, but has a dismal 9-6 record since. And Jankovic, well she's just all over the place, like always. The Serb flopped under the pressure of being number one, but has started to show some glimpses of hope throughout this past summer and this fall.
Although this group lacks a household name, the four ladies will still provide entertaining tennis. Wozniacki has recently been involved in a scandal, and I'm expecting the headlines to shake her a bit. Azarenka has continually proved she can play incredible tennis, but when it comes down to it, the girl just can't keep her head on straight. Speaking of the mentally instable, Dinara Safina has suffered losses to two players outside the top 180 since the US Open, but she'll be in Doha with a determination to regain the number one ranking.
Semifinalists: Safina & Jankovic
Can you say LOADED? The maroon group is just as talented as they come, filled with the Williams sisters and a pair of Russians with enviably powerful groundies. Williams the younger has no doubt been the best player this year, complete with 2 GS victories, and well, nothing else. Kuznetsova won the French Open, defeating Safina and Serena en route to her second major title, but her level of play has dropped a little, having had suffered early round defeats in London, Cincy, Montreal and NYC. Dementieva has been the epitome of GS underachiever/Tier II dominator. The Russian suffered defeats to Serena in the semis of Australia and Wimbledon, but has played outstanding tennis in the lower tier events, like Toronto, where Elena crushed Serena and Maria Sharapova en route to the title. And last, but certainly not least, is Venus Williams. V has certainly not had an impressive year, but not horrible either. Except for reaching the Wimbledon final, V has failed to play stellar tennis, as the elder Williams has a 5-6 record in the past 2 months.
Each of these players can beat each other at any given time, on any given day, but it is clearly a matter of current form. Also, Serena needs to motivate herself to win at events other than the Grand Slams, and Doha is the perfect place to do it. For an 11 time GS champ, Williams has won an unimpressive 1 year-end championship, but she's on a mission following her loss at the hands of mama Clijsters in New York.
Semifinalists: S. Williams and Dementieva
Semifinals: Williams d. Jankovic, Safina d. Dementieva
And, just like the fairytale said, we'll have a fight for number 1 in the last match of the year.
Williams d. Safina