At the Oz Open, who’s the fairest one of them all?

Among all the women on earth who grip tennis rackets, swing at yellow balls, glide across the rectangle court, serve, volley, smash lobs, and sprint for drop shots, three ladies I find most attractive…..

First, and no need to introduce her, is Ms. MS. You know who she is. She stands 6-foot-2, hails from Russia but calls Florida home now, and, at the 2008 Australian Open, she just defeated the world no.1 Justine Henin in a lopsided score, 6-4, 6-0.

Who else but Maria Sharapova! And who doesn’t find her attractive? Or sexy? My favorite dentist, Dr. Nonito Narvasa, long-married to his beautiful spouse Jency, has also long-nurtured a crush on Maria. Mike Limpag? My sports editor on these pages? Two weeks ago after I wrote about Roger Federer, Mike berated me with the text message, “When are you going to write about my ex-girlfriend, Maria?” Wow. It seems everybody loves Maria. And that, I have to admit, does not exclude me.

The second prettiest on the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) tour?

Ana Ivanovic. Now, Ana is what I call a “stunner.” I remember, in my blog site a few months ago, publishing photos of her in seductive, non-tennis wear and hearing a horde of comments from friends. In fact, between Maria and Ana, I find the 20-year-old Serbian more radiant and tantalizing. Because while Sharapova possesses that blonde, Cameron Diaz-like beauty (I know, I know… Maria’s much prettier, but how about the irony: Remember Diaz’s movie “There’s Something About Mary?”), Ivanovic has dark hair and brown skin.

Ana’s long, flowing black-haired beauty isn’t just reserved for our eyes, but she’s also excellent on the tennis court. Just yesterday, to a player she had never beaten before in four tries, Ana downed Venus Williams, 7-6 (3), 6-4. And now she’s in the Australian Open semi-finals. Her opponent?

The third woman whom I consider most captivating: Daniela Hantuchova. The oldest among the trio of ladies (she’s 24 while both Maria and Ana are 20), she’s also the shortest. How short? Well, she’s 5’ 11 1/2. That’s short!? Well, considering that Maria is 6-foot-2 and Ana is 6-foot-1, so, yes, among the three long-legged ladies, she’s smallest. But beauty-wise? Oh yes, she can compete. In fact, prior to the arrival of Maria and Ana a few years back, it was Daniela I stared at the most when fronting that TV set.

And so the Australian Open women’s semi-finals are set: Ana vs. Daniela and Maria vs…. who?
That fourth player is Jelena Jankovic. Is she, uhm, pretty? She’s world no.3. Is she pretty? She owns a good backhand. Pretty? She runs fast. Now you get the point. In simple, plain English: She’s not. At least to me. Especially when you ask her to stand in between her fellow semi-finalists.

So, who’s my pick to win? I hope it’s Maria vs. Ana in the finals. And the winner of that? Talking of experience, Maria is highly-favored: Ana has reached just one Grand Slam singles final while Maria has already won two majors: the 2004 Wimbledon crown and the 2006 U.S. Open trophy. So while my head says to pick Maria, my heart goes to the lady whom I find “the fairest one of them all”…. Ana Ivanovic.

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