Swiss seeds Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka will meet in a blockbuster men’s singles semi-final, after both players won their quarter-finals in convincing fashion on Day 10. Meanwhile, Day 11 is ladies’ semi-finals day at Flushing Meadows and, if the rain stays away, we are in for at least one match. Read on to receive my predictions for each semi-final.
Day 10 Recap
Italian Flavia Pennetta continued her love affair with New York on Day 10, the twenty-sixth seed upsetting fifth seed and two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova to advance to the second US Open semi-final of her career. Pennetta joined compatriot Roberta Vinci in the final four with a fighting 3 set win over Kvitova, who appeared to struggle in conditions which were again hot and humid.
Pennetta will face Romanian Simona Halep for a place in Saturday’s final, after the second seed outlasted former world number one and dual Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka in another 3-setter. Halep made the early running in the match and claimed the opening set, before Azarenka levelled the match at a set apiece and then went up a break in the deciding set. An 85 minute rain delay seemed to halt Azarenka’s momentum, with Halep capturing five of the final seven games to record a 6-3 4-6 6-4 victory.
Much was expected of Richard Gasquet going into his quarter-final clash against Roger Federer, after the Frenchman’s run to the Wimbledon semi-finals and his defeat of sixth seed Tomas Berdych in the round of 16 in New York. But in just 87 minutes, second seed Federer crushed Gasquet’s hopes, handing the Frenchman a 6-3 6-3 6-1 in front of an adoring and appreciative crowd.
Wawrinka had lost his last four matches against Kevin Anderson and, after the lanky South African’s upset of former champion Andy Murray in the fourth round, many pundits were predicting that this match would go the distance. However, French Open champion Wawrinka produced a stunning performance, hammering a visibly fatigued Anderson (who was playing his tenth match in just over a fortnight) in straight sets, 6-4 6-4 6-0, to set up the showdown against his countryman Federer.
Matches of the Day – Day 11
1. Serena Williams vs. Roberta Vinci
Can anybody stop Serena Williams from claiming the calendar Grand Slam? The list of potential candidates is getting shorter and shorter, and now the American is just a couple of wins away from achieving the feat. At the start of the tournament, I considered that there were only a handful of players capable of beating Williams in New York, including her sister Venus and Victoria Azarenka. Serena overcame Venus in the quarter-finals, and Azarenka’s loss to Halep on Day 10 is a big boost for Williams’ chances of winning the tournament.
Vinci has done remarkably well to progress through to her maiden US Open semi-final, but to be honest I don’t think the Italian stands a chance in this one. In four previous meetings with Williams, the 32 year old has been unable to win a set, and her classic all-court game involving spin, placement and touch is no match for the raw power and aggression of Williams. Furthermore, after some long tussles earlier in the tournament, Williams will be focused on getting through this match with a minimum of fuss and getting plenty of rest in preparation for Saturday’s final. Accordingly, despite Vinci’s best efforts, I think this will be a relatively quick and one-sided contest. Williams in 2.
2. Flavia Pennetta vs. Simona Halep
For the second time in three years, Flavia Pennetta is into the US Open semi-finals, and the 33 year old will probably never get a better opportunity to make it through to a Grand Slam final. A former world number one in doubles and previously ranked as high as 10 in singles, Pennetta mixes the all-court game of her compatriot Vinci with greater power and aggression. As a result, when she is playing with confidence and is at full health, the twenty-sixth seed is incredibly difficult to stop.
Halep, a finalist at Roland Garros last year, can make a strong claim to be the smartest player on the WTA Tour. The Romanian isn’t the biggest hitter on tour (far from it, in fact), but she combines brilliant anticipation and awareness skills with impressive speed and balance and an ultra-competitive attitude. This season hasn’t been quite as good as 2014, but the second seed now has a very good opportunity to make another major final.
Pennetta beat Halep at the 2013 US Open and has claimed three of the pair’s four previous meetings. However, Halep did beat the Italian in their most recent encounter, on hard-courts in Miami earlier this year. To my mind, this match will come down to a question of which player can manage their emotions and the occasion the best, and which player is accordingly able to produce the better tennis. Pennetta has been around longer, but Halep’s run to the French Open final last year will hold for in good stead entering this match. Unlike the other semi-final, I think this match will be a tight and hard-fought affair. I’ll back the more consistent Halep to prevail, but only by a whisker. Halep in 3.
That’s it for today. Enjoy the tennis and I’ll be back with another serve tomorrow. In the meantime, you can follow me on Twitter: @satelliteserve.