If you had Sara Errani, Victoria Azarenka, Ekaterina Makarova, Belinda Bencic and let us just say it, Serena Williams in your bracket to make the quarter-finals of the United States Open, you my friend should be picking the ponies at Belmont.
What a fantastic line up heading into the final days of what has been an exciting tournament for the women.
From the giant killer that was CiCi Bellis, to the young upstart Belinda Bencic, to the fighting spirit of Sara Errani and Alexandra Krunic, the WTA offered up its best and brightest to the millions of fans tuned in from all over the world to watch. Who needs an IT girl, when everyone else does such an amazing job of showcasing their talents.
The quarter finals start off today with a match between Belinda Bencic of Switzerland going up against Shuai Peng of China. I have said it before, but how great is it to see Shuai Peng, a doubles specialist who has been ranked No.1 in doubles, and winner of Grand Slam titles finally have her name up in lights. In the absence of Li Na (knee injury), Peng has really worn the mantle of Chinese star very well during this tournament. For many of us who have seen Peng play, we are always amazed at her abilities and always wonder about her inability to win matches that she should be winning. It will be interesting to see how she pairs up against a young lady who has grown into her game and who holds herself very steady under pressure. Belinda Bencic beat 2 top 10 opponents en route to making her first Grand Slam quarter-final and I am looking for her to repeat that feat and make her way to the semifinals.
The winner of Peng/Bencic will get to play the ever resurgent Caroline Wozniacki or Sara Errani. This match is the last match for Arthur Ashe stadium. It remains to be seen whether Wozniacki with her new found aggressive mindset will blow Errani off the court, or whether Errani will continue to confound opponents with her slow deliveries and off pace balls. For those of us who grew up in cricket loving countries, there are certain types of bowlers. There is the fast bowlers, medium pace and spin bowlers. Each of these bowlers have their place in the 11 man line up. The fast bowlers are the ones who really threw batsmen off their games, the medium pace bowlers, confound you with the off pace of their deliveries, but there is just none like the spinners. Their balls, as the name implies, usually spins away from the batsmen causing them to either go after the ball leaving their wickets exposed with the potential that they will be stumped. In reading Errani’s press transcript responses especially questions regarding her serves, I would think that Errani is a spin bowler. She throws in those slow, short deliveries, that make the returners not only wait for the ball, but when they do decide to go after it, it has so much spin on it that they invariably can’t do much with the ball.
If Wozniacki steps in like she has been doing since Istanbul, then she will take care of Errani in straights. If, however, she goes back to her uber defensive, retrieving game, we will be in for a long, drawn out battle.
After winning her round of 16 match against Kaia Kanepi, Serena Williams celebrated by saying how glad she was to make the quarter-final of a Grand Slam for the first time this season. That line alone shows us just how much Serena has been wilting under the pressure of expectations. Should this free her up now to play her best tennis. I would think so. Her opponent is the always dangerous Flavia Pennetta. These 2 have played 5 times before with Serena getting the better of the Italian on all 5 occassions. This one should be no different.
The last quarterfinal pits the resurgent Victoria Azarenka, 2 times finalist of this event, up against Ekaterina Makarova, who took out the WTA’s Golden Child, Eugenie Bouchard in straight sets. Azazrenka had a tough battle against Alexandra Krunic in the fourth round in a match which brought out her competitiveness and her willingness to survive. Will Makarova have enough in the tank to take down the 2 times finalist, who knows, but you can bet that she will give her all in that match up. After all her potential opponent is someone she has beaten on a big stage before.
Bencic v. Wozniacki
Williams v. Azarenka
Williams over Bencic