Friday, September 06, 2013

2013 US OPEN: Women's Semifinals Preview

Here are my predictions for the women's semifinals at the 2013 US Open. This year I correctly predicted 4 of 4 women's quarterfinals and 2 of 4 men's quarterfinals. Last year I correctly predicted 3 of 4 women's quarterfinals and 3 of 4 men's quarterfinals.

Serena Williams (USA) [1] vs. Na Li (CHN) [5]. This should be the better of the two semifinal matches since the Chinese champion possesses enough power to not be blown off the court against the defending champion who has been doing exactly that through her first 5 rounds including a frankly embarrassing 6-0 6-0 win in the quarterfinals against Carla Suarez Navarro, who is a good player. Williams has dropped an astonishing 13 games over 5 rounds to reach this major semifinal and on only 3 occasions has she lost in this round, winning on 20 other occasions. Serena very rarely loses semifinals in majors. However, in 2009 she did lose in the U.S. Open semifinal to Kim Clijsters when she was defaulted in a bizarre incident sparked by a questionable (and unfortunately unappealable) foot fault call. The two have met 9 times before and Serena has only lost once, including two close straight sets wins this year on hard courts in Cincinnati and Miami. Li Na is currently being coached by Carlos Rodriguez, who was the longtime coach of Serena's nemesis Justine Henin. However, although has the physical prowess to do better than she has in the past, she has yet to demonstrate that she has the mental fortitude to do so. In fact, this match could either be  a blowout (by Serena) or a taut, see-saw affair. Regardless, I would be very surprised if Serena did not figure out a way to win this match. Mad Professah's Pick: Serena.

Flavia Pennetta (ITA)  vs. Victoria Azarenka (BLR) [2].  This is Pennetta's first major semifinal of her rather long career while Azarenka is playing in her seventh. Interestingly, the two have a very close 1-1 head-to-head record, with Pennetta having won their last meeting, which was on hard courts, in 2011. However, Azarenka after having won the last two Australian Open titles is not the same player that she was. She has not actually been playing her best tennis in New York, but has managed to not panic despite losing the first set against Alize Cornet and Ana Ivanovic, confident that her game is steady enough to pull out the win in the end. There is basically nothing that the Italian does on the court that is better than what the Belarussian does on the court. The result will be that we will get a blockbuster final on Sunday, a reprise of last year's match up between the Top 2 players in the world. Mad Professah's pick: Azarenka.

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