Day 9 Recap
-Serena Williams blasted her way past her sister Venus to advance to the semifinals. Serena played a perfect opening set to lead 6-2, but Venus took full advantage of a lull in Serena’s level to quickly take the second, 6-1. The swing point of the match came on an incorrect overrule by chair umpire to open the third set. Instead of Serena double-faulting to level the score at deuce, the younger Williams instead won the game right there, and immediately broke Venus the next game. Venus also could have challenged the overrule and did not. That break for 2-0 was the only break in the third, which Serena closed out for a 6-2, 1-6, 6-3 victory. She’ll be a massive favorite in the semis against Roberta Vinci, who outlasted an inconsistent Kiki Mladenovic.
-Defending champion Marin Cilic went the distance in order to defeat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Down two sets to none, Tsonga found some energy, took the third, and saved three match points in the fourth, which he went on to win in a tiebreaker. He ended up handing a break to Cilic in the fifth though, a lead that Cilic would not relinquish. Tsonga revealed after the match that he had sustained a knee injury in the prior round against Benoit Paire.
-Novak Djokovic turned in another subpar performance, surviving in four sets against a game Feliciano Lopez. Late into the New York night, Lopez surprisingly broke early in the second and held it through the set to knot it at one set apiece. Then he equaled Djokovic hold-for-hold in the fourth to force a tiebreaker, which Djokovic quickly took control of with back-to-back vintage service returns to effectively end the match. Djokovic seems to be feeling the tread on his tires since Wimbledon, but he’s 13-0 lifetime against Cilic, so his average tennis could very well be enough to make yet another Grand Slam final.
Day 10 Matches
-Simona Halep (2) vs Victoria Azarenka (20)
Maybe not quite a blockbuster due to to the respective forms each player is in, but these are undoubtedly two of the five most important players on the women’s tour. Halep pulled out a critical win against Sabine Lisicki, but that won’t help her thigh injury heal. Azarenka’s had more than her share of injuries as well, yet appears to rounding into form at just the right time. If this match has been at any other time this year, Halep would merit the support. In this instance, Vika has to be the favorite.
Prediction: Azarenka in three sets
-Roger Federer (2) vs Richard Gasquet (12)
Way back in 2005, a young Gasquet, dubbed “Baby Fed,” took the first meeting between the two in a thriller on the Monte Carlo clay. The decade that followed didn’t exactly live up to that though, as he’s never made a Grand Slam final, nor has he won a Masters 1000. Heck, despite spending a solid chunk of his career in the top ten, he’s never even won a 500 event.
On the bright side, there’s another thing he’s never done: lost in a major quarterfinal. With a 3-0 record in said round, Gasquet will attempt to preserve that perfect record against Federer. It’ll be a tall task considering he’s beaten Fed just once in the ten years since their first matchup. The Frenchman’s game just doesn’t have the potency to knock off the game’s elite (2-14 against Federer, 0-13 versus Nadal, 1-12 against Djokovic), and with how efficient Federer has been holding his service games this summer, it’s hard to see that changing.
Prediction: Federer in straight sets
-Petra Kvitova (5) vs Flavia Pennetta (26)
An interesting matchup between a two-time Grand Slam champion making her first deep run in New York (Kvitova) and a Slam-less veteran with nearly all of her major success at the U.S. Open (Pennetta). The Italian has now made the quarterfinals in five of her last six runs at Flushing Meadows, but this one will be on Kvitova’s racket, as it so often for her. She can look like the best player in the world or an absolute mess, sometimes both in the same match. She’s got a lot of positive momentum though, having won the New Haven title just before the Open, and here’s betting she can keep her career-best run going for at least one more match.
Prediction: Kvitova in three sets
-Stan Wawrinka (5) vs Kevin Anderson (15)
Wawrinka might be the only guy on tour who might have preferred to play Andy Murray as opposed to Anderson. There’s sarcasm in that, but Anderson has won four straight meetings against the Stanimal. Anderson’s four set win over Murray was a career-defining achievement, and now he’ll face the challenge that his colleagues have struggled with over the past decade after knocking off a member of the Big Four: replicating that effort in the next match. Wawrinka is not an elite returner, so Anderson won’t be pushed on serve the way he was against Murray. This match could easily swing on a tiebreaker or two, and Stan has been dominant in those recently.
Prediction: Wawrinka in four tight sets