Zvonareva (21) vs. Pironkova: Amidst widespread reports of Russia’s demise as the dominant WTA power, Zvonareva has bravely upheld her nation’s honor by reaching the semifinals in both singles and doubles. This unexpected heroine demonstrated uncharacteristic mental tenacity by rebounding from adversity more than once in her quarterfinal victory over Clijsters. Hampered by untimely net cords as she failed to serve out the second set, Zvonareva contained her disappointment and broke the Belgian a game later. In the third set, however, the eighth seed conveniently dropped her own serve rather than compelling the Russian to serve out the match, so one remains unaware of how she would have responded to that ultimate challenge. Unfailingly positive and poised throughout her absurdly one-sided win over Venus, Pironkova looked like a much more mature, experienced player than the trembling cannon fodder who offered no resistance whatever against Sharapova at last year’s US Open. Remarkably, she looked as though she expected to win and showed barely a flicker of nerves even as the finish line approached. Earning break points in all but two of the second seed’s games, the world #82 returned overhead after overhead, swing volley after swing volley with improbable retrievals; Zvonareva must prepare to win the point two or even three times instead of assuming that one penetrating groundstroke will suffice. Pironkova’s knack for placing balls in awkward locations thus proved startlingly effective on a surface where defense traditionally has reaped few rewards.
Click here to read more about Zvonareva-Pironkova and Serena-Kvitova, plus a brief thought on Federer's loss and a discussion on what this bizarre semifinal lineup tells us about the current state of the WTA.