Tuesday, September 06, 2011

US OPEN 2011: Women's Quarterfinals Preview

Andrew Ong/usopen.org
Caroline Wozniacki DEN (1) v. Andrea Petkovic GER (10). Wozniacki was hand delivered a get-out-of-jail free card from Svetlana Kuznetsova, who was leading 7-6(6) 4-2 40-15 when suddenly the Russian had (another) one of her epic collapses, losing 11 of the next 13 games in a draining 3-hour-plus match. This was something of a repeat of their 2009 US Open 4th round encounter which Wozniacki had won 2-6 7-6 7-6 on her way to only major final. Her opponent Petkovic played a much less dramatic match against talented Spaniard Carlos Suarez Navarro, winning in straight sets 6-1 6-4. If  2-time major champion Sveta couldn't blast "Sunshine" off the court, what chance does Petkorazzi have of winning? Regardless of who wins this match to reach the semifinal, they have almost no chance getting to the final since they are in Serena Williams half of the draw. PREDICTION: Wozniacki.

Serena Williams USA (28) v. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova RUS (17). The young, talented Russian was finally able to outlast the Iron Woman herself, Francesca Schiavone of Italy, in a 5-7 6-3 6-4 win to reach her second major quarterfinal of the year, claiming revenge for the come-from-behind win Schiavone had eked out during her historic journey to the 2011 French Open final. Unsurprisingly, Serena is the lowest seeded player to be in the final 8, following her straight sets dismissal of #4 seed Victoria Azarenka and #16 seed Ana Ivanovic. It is extremely doubtful the hard-hitting Pavlyuchenkova playing in her 2nd career quarterfinal will be able to make much impact on the hardest-hitting player of her generation playing in her 32nd quarterfinal.The only thing that could stop Serena winning the tournament on Saturday is being hit by a bus. PREDICTION: Williams.

Flavia Pennetta ITA (26) v. Angelique Kerber GER. The mystery quarterfinalists. It's not surprising that two of the quarterfinalists are from Germany, but that one of those German quarterfinalists is Angelique Kerber is stunning. After going through a notable lull after the great Steffi Graf, Germany has had a recent resurgence with Julia Georges, Sabine Lisicki and Andrea Petkovic all having reached the Top 20 in the rankings. However, it is the #4 German player who is in her first major quarterfinal against Italy's #2, Flavia Pennetta. Pennetta relishes her reputation as a giant killer, and eliminated Maria Sharapova from the draw 2 rounds ago. It is an incredible opportunity for the Italian to reach her first major semifinal and perhaps become the second woman from her country ever to reach a major final, and shockingly, the second Italian player this year. PREDICTION: Pennetta.

Vera Zvonareva RUS (2) v. Samantha Stosur AUS (9). This should be the popcorn match of the round. Zvonareva has been in 2 major finals and is now an established hard-court force to be reckoned with, but no-one who has ever had the mental collapses Vera has exhibited can ever really be counted on to play up to their potential level when it counts. In Samantha Stosur she faces an opponent who has beaten her 6 times in a row, but who is also known to wilt under the pressure of an important moment. Stosur has been improving in this category, and battling back to win the third set convincingly after losing the longest women's tie-break in Grand Slam history (15-17) against Maria Kirilenko shows her strengthening mental fortitude. Zvonareva has tasted success on these courts before and that might be the difference in a 3rd set tiebreak. PREDICTION: Zvonareva.

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