Errani defeated Jelena Jankovic, 6-3, 7-5, with her forehand blasting 15 winners - the most of any shot by either player in a hard-hitting semifinal encounter.
The match featured 53 winners (Jankovic 30 and Errani 23) with many of them coming from down the line shots as both players looked to gain an advantage redirecting in a baseline rally.
Errani Forehand Winners (and how many)
Rallying Down the Line (3)
Rallying Crosscourt (1)
Run Around Ad Court (1)
Passing Shot Down The Line (2)
Passing Shot Crosscourt (3)
Half Volley (1)
Errani's 15 forehand winners were hit from all over the court with down the line groundstroke winners, crosscourt passing shots and drop shots in particular bringing the partisan Italian crowd to their feet. It's been 29 years since an Italian woman, Raffaella Reggi, won the Italian Open, but Errani's form has been magnificent in her march to the finals and has ignited the tennis passion of the nation.
Errani's 15 forehand winners were backed up with only 11 forehand errors with nearly all of them forced stretching deep and wide in the ad court.
Jankovic had more total winners (7 forehand and 10 backhand) but those two critical shots also misfired for 35 errors (18 forehand and 17 backhand) from the back of the court. A lot of times Errani was just trying to stay alive long enough in the point for Jankovic to eventually miss.
Jankovic's game plan of trying to go through Errani was evident early on as the Serb approached three times in the opening game looking for an early break. Jankovic was unable to break and quickly fell behind 0-40 in her first service game. She then blasted four winners in the next five points including three backhand winners down the line to hold for 1-1. The match was only 11 minutes old but you could easily tell it was going to be one of those matches - hit first and ask questions later.
Jankovic broke to 15 for a 2-1 lead but would lose the next four games as her offense just missed the mark and Errani played superb defense, particularly with her high looping forehand down the line. Errani held to love serving at 5-3 when Jankovic missed a forehand wide off a tough, high, heavy forehand from Errani.
Jankovic found her range early in the second set, serving aces out wide in the deuce court to start and finish her opening service game. She would serve four of her five aces in the second set as she raced to a 4-1 lead attacking the net at every opportunity. Jankovic won 66 percent (10/15) approach points for the set which was much more successful than the 35 percent (5/14) in the first set.
Errani was mixing drop shots with great success during the match, winning five of eight to keep Jankovic off balance with her baseline offense. Jankovic went 0/2 with her dropshots for the match and got broken at 4-4 in the second set when she miscued a short angle backhand drop shot that sat up for Errani to finish with a backhand down the line.
Errani served for the match at 5-4 in the second set but was broken to 15 when she couldn't defend a big forehand down the line from Jankovic. Jankovic missed a backhand down the line just long to lose her serve at 5-5 and Errani finally converted serving at 6-5 as Jankovic made four groundstroke errors (three forehand and one backhand) all going down the line looking for a quick winner.
Craig O'Shannessy (@BrainGameTennis) is the leading analyst for wtatennis.com throughout the 2014 season, utilizing SAP Data & Insights to uncover the patterns and percentages that dominate the game. Visit Craig's website at www.braingametennis.com for more expert strategy analysis.