Monday, July 04, 2016

2016 WIMBLEDON: Women's Quarterfinals Preview

Here are my predictions for the women's quarterfinals at the Wimbledon Championships for 2016. Last year I correctly predicted 4 of 4 men's quarterfinals and correctly predicted 2 of 4 women's quarterfinals. I will also predict this year's men's quarterfinals.

Serena Williams (USA) [1]  vs. Coco Vandeweghe (USA) [30] Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) [23]. After getting past a surprisingly stuff challenge from fellow American Christina McHale in last Friday's 2nd round match, Serena's play has significantly improved and she was at near her peak effectiveness during the last set of her previous round demolition of the only remaining Slam champion in the draw not named Williams. She won the last 9 games against Svetlana Kuznetsova and her reward is a quarterfinal, not with another hard-hitting American who plays some of her best tennis on grass (Coco Vandeweghe), but a counter-punching Russian with questionable fitness. In order to maintain her lock on the World #1 ranking despite whatever happens next in the tournament, Serena just has to win this next match. I'd say that's pretty much a lock, too. PREDICTION: Serena.

Dominika Cibulkova (SVK) [19] Agnieska Radwanska (POL) [3] vs. Elena Vesnina RUSThis should be the ugliest match of the quarterfinals. Both winners had to play long 3-set match (each winning the deciding set 9-7). Vesnina played against her friend and doubles partner, Ekaterina Makarova and defeated her to reach her first-ever major quarterfinal. In the fourth round Cibulkova played the best match of the tournament (and Pam Shriver, perhaps prematurely, called it the best women's match of the year) to defeat #2 seed Aga Radwanska, providing a display of nerveless, hard-hitting tennis that successfully made it through the creative, magical defense of the Polish star.  The 2014 Australian Open finalist is again playing some of her best tennis, and now leads the WTA tour with most wins in 2016. She won Eastbourne and is brimming with confidence. A blockbuster semifinal meeting may be in her future, or of not, she can go ahead with her wedding, which is scheduled for Saturday, the day of the women's final.  Somehow, I think if she wins this match, the wedding may be postponed. PREDICTION: Cibulkova.

Simona Halep (ROU) [5] vs. Angelique Kerber (GER) [4] This should be the best match of the quarterfinals. These two are fighting for the #2 position (behind Serena) in women's tennis and a win here by the 2016 Australian Open champion could keep Kerber's chances of becoming #1 this summer alive. In fact, if Serena somehow fails to reach the semifinals here and Kerber wins the championship, we could have a new World #1. Standing in Angie's way is Simona Halep, who has not been living up to her seeding in several of the last majors she played, although she was a 2014 Wimbledon semifinalist. Halep has previously dominated their first three meetings, but Kerber demolished her on clay (Halep's best surface) when the two played Fed Cup earlier this season. Halep has a lot more to prove than Kerber does here, and I think the German just has a little bit more game than the Romanian. I expect this to be a long, drama-filled affair, and we can only hope it will be as high quality as this year's Cibulkova-Radwanska instant classic in the Wimbledon 4th round. PREDICTION: Kerber.

Venus Williams (USA) [8] vs. Yaroslava Shvedova (KAZ)
Garbiñe Muguruza (ESP) [2]. The 5-time Wimbledon champion is 36 years old and is in her first major quarterfinal here in six years but this result should not be surprising; she is back in the ETA Top 10, seeded #8 here and this is her 3rd major quarterfinal in the last two years. Happily for Venus she was able to win her last match against Carla Suarez Navarro in straight sets despite starting badly and losing the first three games. The biggest question with predicting Venus' results in the majors is the uncertainty around her stamina. She has never played her opponent before, but Shvedova is well known to the Williams family, she played a tight three setter against Serena about 5 or 6  years ago here at Wimbledon and she is a good grass court player. She dismissed 2014 Wimbledon semifinalist Lucie Safarova in the previous round so you know she's dangerous. Venus should be very glad that she is not facing last year's Wimbledon finalist (and 2016 French Open champion) Garbine Muguruza or the results would be very different. PREDICTION: Venus.

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