Thursday, September 08, 2016

2016 US OPEN: Women's Semifinals Preview

Here are my predictions for the women's semifinals at the US Open for 2016. Last year I correctly predicted 0 of 2 women's semifinals and correctly predicted 2 of 2 men's semifinalsSo far this year, I have correctly predicted 3 of 4 men's quarterfinals and 4 of 4 women's quarterfinals.

Serena Williams (USA) [1] vs Karolina Pliskova (CZE) [10]Serena was finally pushed in a match at this year's U.S. Open when Simona Halep started going for broke and painted the lines.  Although she lost the match 2-6 6-4 3-6 during that middle set that she won, Halep was literally outhitting and outlasting Serena for various stretches. In particular, in the 3rd and 10th games Serena had a dozen breakpoints and was unable to win any of them. Instead, Serena was broken once and that was enough to cause her to lose the set. However, in the must-win third set, Serena was able to save the only 2 breakpoints she faced and when Halep lost her concentration Serena pounced, earned the service break and cruised through to win the match and reach her 33rd major semifinal (28W-4L). As I expected, in the other quarterfinal where Karolina Pliskova and teenager Ana Konjuh were competing to reach their first major semifinal, it was the experience of Pliskova which pulled her through to victory. Serena and Pliskova have only played once before, with Serena winning relatively easily on the hard courts of the Bank of the West classic in 2014. The two have the best serves in women's tennis, with Pliskova leading the tour with the most aces hit. However, she is nowhere near as good a mover as Halep and thus will not force Serena to hit nearly as many balls in order to win points and although the first set may be close, it is doubtful that the match as a whole will be. PREDICTION: Serena.

Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) vs Angelique Kerber (GER) [2].  It was surprising to many that this semifinal is the second match scheduled, since the first match features the World #1 (and 6-time champion here) but the organizers probably realize that this match will be the more interesting of the two. Head-to-head Wozniacki and Kerber have played 12 times, with the German leading 7-5 but the Dane leading 5-4 on hard courts and none of their meetings occurring in a major. Kerber has already shown that she is a big match player, multiple times, but Wozniacki is extremely hungry to disprove the many naysayers who have dismissed her chances to ever make a significant impact on women's tennis in the future. Wozniacki has had some good wins this tournament, but it must be noted that although this is the first time she has been in the second week of a major in two years she has reached the final at this very tournament twice before, so she knows how to win these semifinals. However, looking at their games the aspects of the game which Wozniacki does better than Kerber are hard to identify. Movement? No. Service? No. Mental toughness? Possibly. Desire to win? Probably. Stamina? Sure. But in the end I think we will get the major final we deserve, #1 versus #2, playing for history and the World #1 ranking. PREDICTION: Kerber

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