Thursday, 6 September 2012

US Open: Womens Semi-Final Preview & Predictions

Maria Sharapova v Victoria Azarenka
Both Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka endured tough quarter-finals to make this sure-to-be, rip-roaring semi-final.  Sharapova came from behind to beat an inspired Marion Bartoli, 3-6 6-3 6-4.  Azarenka was also pushed hard by Sam Stosur as she edged the impressive Aussie, 6-1 4-6 7-6.  Sharapova had played no matches since the Olympics and Azarenka only six games in Canada before retiring, but both have shown their dominance by reaching this stage.

There is some added intense spice to this match-up because Azarenka and Sharapova are two of the fiercest competitors and are definitely not the best of the friends! They have only played in finals this year with Azarenka winning the two matches on hard courts in Australia and Indian Wells where she enjoyed straightforward victories; Sharapova did however turn the tables in Stuttgart on the clay although Azarenka was hampered with an injury in that clash.  I predicted Sharapova to win the title before the tournament, but having seen the tournament progress I think Azarenka will prevail in this one and it will be the tightest match they have played all year.

Prediction - Victoria Azarenka to beat Maria Sharapova in 3 sets

Serena Williams v Sara Errani
Serena Williams has sailed through the US Open draw and will face Sara Errani in the semi-finals.  Serena enjoyed a 6-1 6-3 comprehensive win over Ana Ivanovic to keep her hopes alive of winning her second Grand Slam title of the year.  Errani has continued to defy the odds to make the semi-finals; her best win came in the 4th round against Angelique Kerber and she beat her best friend Roberta Vinci, 6-2 6-4 in the quarters.  It is worth noting the Italian pair are into the Doubles final.  On paper, this could be a real roasting and if Serena can hit through Errani it could be a very, very quick match.

I have been guilty of not giving Errani enough credit this year.  The Italian is almost certain to qualify for the Season Ending Championships in Istanbul, having made the quarters in Australian and reaching a triumphant final in Paris.  Errani's second serve is highly batterable, but her heavy topspin and lack of pace could pose a problem for Serena if she was to get tight.  Kerber could not generate any pace on Errani's slow balls, but Serena should not encounter the same problem wit her heavy groundstrokes.  I think the Italian will give a respectable account of herself, as she did in the French Open final, but she will be helpless in stopping a scintillating Serena.
Serena Williams to beat Sara Errani in 2 sets
It has been a good week for me so far as I correctly predicted three of the four semi-finalists (not a big shock really!).  I am not too sure though if my original prediction of Sharapova is going to come true with Serena in top form.  Stosur beat her in the final last year so you never know...

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