Tuesday, September 08, 2015

2015 US OPEN: Women's Quarterfinals Preview

Here are my predictions for the women's quarterfinals at the US Open for 2015. Last year I correctly predicted 2 of 4 women's quarterfinals and correctly predicted 3 of 4 men's quarterfinals.

Serena Williams (USA) [1] vs Venus Williams (USA) [23]. The most incredible story in tennis, and possibly in the entirety of women's sports, enters its fifteenth year as these two African-American siblings continue to battle near the pinnacle of the game that they have devoted their professional sports lives to. This meeting will be their 27th (Serena leads their overall head-to-head 15-11) and it is on the 14th anniversary of the first time the two played in grand slam final (when Venus won the 2001 U.S. Open). This is the second consecutive major tournament where they have  had to face each other. Serena won their 4th round meeting at Wimbledon this year relatively easily in two decisive sets, but lost their previous meeting in the semifinals of the Canadian tournament last year. (Serena leads 8-5 in major tournament play.) Although Venus has been playing extremely well (especially considering her 23 seeding, it would be a surprise if she could make this match even competitive. There's no question that she is the person on earth who knows Serena's game the most but will that experience actually improve her chances of dashing her sister's hopes for tennis immortality? This will probably be Serena's most emotionally tough match of the fortnight, but she should be a lock to reach her 5 consecutive major final and actually play for the possibility of the calendar grand slam, something Martina Navratilova did as well (she lost that match to Hana Mandlikova in 1985). PREDICTION: Serena.

Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) Ekaterina Makarova (RUS) [13] vs Roberta Vinci (ITA) [16]. This is the accidental quarterfinal. Kiki did well to upset the solid #13 seed Makarova in the previous round and Vinci is here (again!) because Eugenie Bouchard got a concussion after her Friday match and had to default her fourth round match against the Italian. I'll put my money on the Frenchwoman to get through but noone from this quarter is going to be playing in the final on Saturday night. PREDICTION: Mladenovic.

Petra Kvitova (CZE) [5] vs Samantha Stosur (AUS) [22] Flavia Pennetta (ITA) [26].  For some reason the Italian plays her best tennis in New York; she's reached five of her six major quarterfinals at the U.S. open, leading to her 2013 semifinal appearance. Kvitova has never played her best tennis in New York, but she has won the New Haven tournament  (played the week before the last major of the year) for three consecutive years. This is her first major quarterfinal in New York, completing her career set. With her power it is hard to see why she has not had more success on the hard courts in North America but perhaps all that changes this year. Kvitova should be the overwhelming favorite but Pennetta is feisty and fearless and she should find a way to pose the Czech lefty some serious questions. PREDICTIONKvitova

Victoria Azarenka (BLR) [20] vs. Simona Halep (ROU) [2]. The top half of the draw is dominated by the Williams sisters, with an almost certainty being that one of them will be in the final on Saturday. In the bottom half of the draw any one of the four remaining players is a legitimate major finalist and two of them are multiple slam winners (Azarenka and Kvitova). Azarenka plays her best tennis on hard courts while Halep is clearly excellent on all surfaces--there's a reason she is clearly the #2 player in the world behind Serena. However, the player who people feel is Serena's most serious challenger (the one who has the most belief, and who held a match point against her earlier this year in Spain) is the former World #1 Belarussian. This match should actually be the most high quality match of the four and is the most difficult to predict. Azarenka is 2-0 against Halep but hasn't played her since 2012, when Halep simply was not the player she is today (and Azarenka was a better player than she is today). I think Halep will show how much she has improved, and demonstrate how much more Azarenka has to do to get back to the top of the women's game, but it won't be easy. PREDICTION: Halep. 

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