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Serena Williams Two Matches Away From Top Ranking
The US Open 2008: Friday, Day 12 Picks

By Ken Miller, Lawn Tennis Correspondent, Posted: Friday, September 5, 2008 8:17am CST USA
Serena Williams, Serena Williams Two Matches Away From Number One Ranking, Jelena Jankovic, The US Open 2008 Day 12 Picks, US Open 2008 NEW YORK--( Today is women's semfinals day at the US Open, and any of the four semifinalists can claim the world's number one ranking with a title win Saturday.

In the first semifinal, gold medalist Elena Dementieva of Russia meets Jelena Jankovic of Serbia. In semifinal number two, two of the hottest players on the WTA Tour this year meet as Dinara Safina of Russia faces Serena Williams of the USA.

Serena Williams | Photo by Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images
Lawn Tennis Magazine, The US Open
Any of the four US Open semifinalists can claim the world's number one ranking with a title win Saturday.

Elena Dementieva (RUS)[5] v. Jelena Jankovic (SRB)[2]
Jelena Jankovic, always consistent from the baseline, plays more tournaments than almost any player on the WTA Tour. Her consistency paid off as she briefly reached the WTA Tour's top ranking earlier this summer before falling to her current ranking of number two. The problem for Jankovic is today she is playing Dementieva who has a very strong forehand and backhand and is confident after taking gold at the Beijing Olympics.

Head to head Jankovic leads Dementieva 4-3, but Dementieva won their last meeting earlier this year at Berlin 6-3, 2-6, 6-3. Both players have improved their games in recent months, but Dementieva's game still lacks a serve worthy of a top player. Jankovic has had some issues with injury the past few weeks, but if she is healthy, I think she can showcase more variety in her game than can Dementieva.
Prediction: Jelena Jankovic

Dinara Safina (RUS)[6] v. Serena Williams (USA)[4]
Serena Williams won 17 matches in a row earlier this year before falling to Dinara Safina 2-6, 6-1, 7-6(7-5) at Berlin in their last meeting. Safina has emerged this year as a major force of power but still is suspect in terms of mental toughness and physical fitness.

Williams leads Safina head to head 3-1 and the bad news for Safina is both players play a similar attacking game, but Williams' game is at its best the far superior of the two. Safina has issues with being tired during matches so she will need to keep points short to pull off the upset.

Williams, the US Open champion in 1999 and 2002, however will not want to lose after knocking out her sister Venus Williams in the quarterfinals 7-6(8-6), 7-6(9-7). Venus failed to close out either set after holding 10 setpoints. Safina, a finalist at the French Open and the Olympics may not be much better at closing, but Williams will not want to take the chance to find out.

Williams will look to attack from the start of each point with either her serve or return of serve to win quick points. Safina would need to prolong points into longer rallies to force errors, but Williams seems to be playing well enough to hit more winners than errors.
Prediction: Serena Williams

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