Bradenton, FL – Maria Sharapova and Jelena Jankovic, both former students of the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy (NBTA) will face off against each other in the semifinal round of the Australian Open. The match will take place on Thursday, January 24th at the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
Sharapova, the tournament fifth seed and a former world-ranked #1, overcame the current world number one Justine Henin in the quarterfinals to advance to the semis. Henin has noted that Sharapova will likely be the “one to beat” in the final match of the tournament. A native of Russia, Sharapova began her training at the NBTA at the age of nine.
According to Nick Bollettieri, “Sharapova proved to everyone (once again) that she has not lost the will to win. She hits some of the hardest groundstrokes on tour and her serve certainly looks to be back to where it was in 2006. She will try to control the match with her forehand and backhand and win easy points with her serve.”
The Serbian-born Jankovic first traveled to Florida at the age of twelve to begin her training at the NBTA. 2007 was a breakthrough year for Jankovic, having advanced to the semifinals in the French Open and the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open. She has battled through both injury and tough competition to advance to the semifinal match at the Australian Open. She is ranked fourth in the world and is the number-three seed for this tournament.
Nick Bollettieri stated, “No one moves better than Jelena, and when she is in trouble she can still hit an offensive shot. She hits one of the best two-handed backhand down-the-line shots on the WTA Tour, and she has a great return of serve.”
“If Sharapova serves well and is able to keep Jankovic from using her excellent return of serve, the edge goes to her. If Jankovic is able to get Sharapova into long rallies and pushes the match to three sets, the edge goes to her,” Bollettieri continued.
Additionally, fellow NBTA alumna Daniela Hantuchova, the world #9 from Slovakia, is currently posting her best singles performance at the Australian Open since making the quarterfinals in 2003. She will face off against Ana Ivanovic in the semis. Hantuchova first began training at the NBTA more than ten years ago.
There is a 75% chance that the women’s champion of the 2008 Australian Open will be an alumna of the NBTA.
The Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy is unique to the world of tennis training. Nick himself has trained and coached nine #1 ranked professionals. It’s a testament to the success of the IMGA training methodology that three of the four women in the 2008 Aussie Open semifinals are alumnae of the NBTA.
The IMG Academy have grown incredibly over the years; nearly nine hundred students from over sixty different countries train there each year, which is to say nothing of the thousands of juniors, adults, and professionals that train on a weekly basis during the year. Although the Academies started with the NBTA in 1978, they now offer golf, baseball, performance, basketball, and soccer; softball and swimming will open for Spring 2008.
For more information, please contact Priscilla Kuehnel at 941.752.2604 or by e-mail at Priscilla.Kuehnel@imgworld.com.