The Round Robin group stages have been completed and out of the four groups come Olivia Rogowska, Sophie Ferguson, Jelena Dokic and Alicia Molik. It’s pretty great how this all turned out – though not seeded 1-4, these players really are the 4 most deserving semi-finalists, and were undoubtedly locks for wildcards regardless of what happened. We have the two former top tenners in Alicia Molik and Jelena Dokic, then we have Sophie Ferguson who is edging towards the top 100, and then Australia’s brightest young hope, Olivia Rogowska. So let’s take a closer look.
 Sophie Ferguson vs  Olivia Rogowska
It’s been a long and hard year for Olivia Rogowska, after all the expectations that came with a semi-breakthrough 2009, it all went horribly wrong. One of the most poignant images was her going from almost taking out the world’s number one tennis player at the biggest stadium and tournament in the world one week, to competing in an Aussie $25k in front of about 10 people, in a club smaller the Arthur Ashe Stadium itself the very next week. The massive contrast in environment had her flying head first back down to earth. Suddenly, the slippery slope was in motion as her motivation to play these tiny events evaporated, which in turn led to her performing poorly, which of course meant she lost all confidence and belief in her game, and suddenly she was out of the top 200 and in a deep hole. Her nadir came at the end of last month when she was double bageled by the 390th ranked Mihaela Burzarnescu.
For Sophie Ferguson however, this year has been full of positives. A career high of 109 in July, the highlights of the 24 year-old’s season include reaching the finals of the Biarritz $100k and qualifying before defeating Wimbledon semi-finalist Petra Kvitova at this year’s French Open. Amongst the likes of Sam Stosur, Jelena Dokic and Alicia Molik, she is often the forgotten Aussie, but she shouldn’t be.
I see this match going either way. Sophie Ferguson undoubtedly begins the match as the firm favourite, taking to account their ranks and their respective year on tour, but at the same time I am actually liking Rogowska’s chances. Her opponents this week may pale in comparison to Ferguson, but I think the 19 year-old’s three matches have really given her a chance to dial herself in and hit the ball far cleaner than she has done over the last couple of months. She has the goods to brush aside Ferguson, and I am beginning to think she will do just that.
 Alicia Molik vs  Jelena Dokic
The second match of the day, and easily the marquee match of both draws, pits old friends Alicia Molik and Jelena Dokic against each other. We all know these players. In the red corner we have the former world number eight Alicia Molik. Her best result at the Australian Open came in 2005 when she reached the quarterfinals before playing an incredible match before losing 9-7 in the third to Lindsay Davenport. It was a heartbreaking loss, even more-so since she put up one of the greatest performances of her career in that match. However, Molik today is at a completely different point in her career. After retiring and then re-retiring like the WTA player she is, Molik’s second career has been quite underwhelming, with countless first round exits and blowouts to lower-ranked players. Still, she asserts that she is at peace with her career, and she is enjoying this second chance as her career winds down.
In the blue corner sits Jelena Dokic. Former world number four, her best performance at the Australian Open came, of course, at the incredible tournament of 2009. Jelena’s progress through the Australian Open in 2009 is one of those tennis moments that will stay with you for a long, long time. And rightly so. However, since the 2009 Australian Open, Jelena’s last two years on tour have been characterised by a series of bad luck. Countless illnesses and injuries have plagued her, and her yo-yo weight stemming back to her days of depression have further complicated things. But throughout all this hardship, she has kept her spirit and is as determined as ever.
Both players may enjoy serving big and crushing their groundstrokes, but this remains an interesting match-up. While Alicia’s serve is undoubtedly the more potent and consistent, both of Jelena’s groundstrokes easily outmatch Molik’s. Thus, Molik will inevitably be hoping to serve well and turn this match into a “who blinks first” serving contest. With Jelena’s serve so double fault-prone, this would swing the match dramatically in Alicia’s favour. For Jelena, the key of the match will be to get as many returns back and dominate Molik in the rallies. Should be a cracking match.