The final two places in the 2014 US Open Ladies Singles semi-finals are up for grabs in New York today, with last year’s finalists both looking to make the last four again.
Indeed, three of last year’s four semi -inalists are in action today, with Serena Williams, Vika Azarenka and Flavia Pennetta all a game away from making that stage again in 2014.
Williams and Pennetta face each other at midnight UK time, while Azarenka takes on last year’s quarter finalist Kate Makarova at around 17:30 UK time.
We’re set for a less humid day on Wednesday, but it’ll still be hot at around 30C, and the wind shouldn’t be too much of a factor today at around 7mph.
Serena Williams vs Flavia Pennetta
It will be a big shock if the Italian makes the semi-finals again this year with defending champion and world number one Williams blocking her path.
The American has ended up the winner in all five of her career meetings with Pennetta and only once, in Miami back in 2008, on slower hard courts has Flavia managed to grab a set.
Williams is 8-3 in US Open quarter finals, with her last defeat at this stage of the tournament coming to Justine Henin back in 2007 and she’s won each one in straight sets since.
One of those was against Pennetta in 2009 when Williams ran out a 6-4, 6-3 winner and last year she didn’t lose a single game in a double bagel thrashing of Carla Suarez Navarro.
Serena says that she didn’t play well between Brisbane and Cincy – pretty much all season so far – and that she’s feeling really good and in shape right now.
We have heard this before, but surely the only thing stopping her winning this match would be injury or another of those anxiety attacks that she seems to have from time to time.
She did have a MTO in her doubles match yesterday, which was for her ankle to be restrapped and Williams was wearing Andy Murray-style ankle supports on both ankles in that one.
I can’t see past the Williams 2-0 here, but it’s too short and I prefer the over 8.5 games in set one at 1.65 here.
Serena is often slow to start and she’ll do well to win the opener 6-2 or better unless Flavia has a nightmare start.
Victoria Azarenka vs Ekaterina Makarova
This quarter final looks to potentially be a lot closer than the Williams/Pennetta encounter and Makarova certainly has a shot of defeating her more illustrious opponent here.
It will be their sixth career meeting in a series that Vika leads 3-2 in currently, but Kate won their most recent one on clay at altitude in Madrid last season.
This should certainly be the toughest match that Vika has had so far in a run that has seen her get past no one ranked higher than number 48, but she wasn’t the only top player to have been bewitched by Aleksandra Krunic this fortnight.
The Belarusian certainly isn’t in the kind of form that saw her win two Australian Opens on hard courts and if Makarova doesn’t choke she has a very good chance of pulling off the upset here.
Kate’s down the line ground strokes will really test the movement of Azarenka, whose serve has been much less effective this season too, probably because of her injury issues, and an attacking lefty can get her rewards against Vika.
Petra Kvitova has beaten Vika the last four times they’ve met and even Misaki Doi caused Azarenka problems here with her lefty game in round one.
Makarova, who is also still in the doubles, is yet to drop a set this tournament in singles and she’ll be dialled in to the conditions and full of confidence having defeated the Williams sisters on the doubles court yesterday.
The over 21.5 total games and the Makarova win are the two bets on my shortlist here, priced at 1.92 and 1.98 respectively.
Back over 8.5 games in set one of Pennetta/Williams at 1.65
Back over 21.5 total games in Makarova/Azarenka at 1.92