The semi-finals of the WTA China Open are all set for Saturday morning at the National Tennis Stadium in Beijing.
It’s another early start for European viewers, but not as bad as it has been previously this week, with an 8am opening to proceedings on Saturday.
Petra Kvitova vs Jelena Jankovic
The most unpopular woman in Beijing at the moment is likely to be Kvitova. The Czech took down Na Li from a set down to spoil the party for the Chinese fans and continue Li’s run of never having made the final here.
As usual it was an up and down affair from Petra, whose record of going the distance is now quite remarkable. I’m not sure if there’s an official mark for this, but Kvitova has now played 35 three set matches this season from her total of 70 and her last five straight have gone the full distance.
She should see some solace in facing Jankovic, with the Serb never having beaten Petra so far in their careers. One could look at it the other way though, with Jankovic’s four matches here in Beijing this year ending in deciders three times.
JJ’s game plan will presumably be to stay solid in the rallies and wait for Kvitova to make the error and it could work for a while, but ultimately you need a little more than that at this level. It can never be a confident choice with Kvitova involved, but the minus 3.5 games on the handicap at 1.77 looks the bet here.
Serena Williams vs Agnieszka Radwanska
The second of Saturday’s semi-finals begins at around 10am UK time and it will be the seventh attempt by Radwanska to defeat Williams. The first six goes have yielded just a single set and that was a bit of a lapse/choke from Serena in the second set of their Wimbledon final in 2012.
Generally the Williams power game is too much for the crafty Pole and if she plays anything like she did on Friday against Caroline Wozniacki she’ll have few problems here. Wozniacki was blown away by a supposedly ‘under the weather’ Williams, but if that’s her playing through pain then she’d be unbeatable fully fit.
Only when a set and 4-0 down did Caro start to play and by then it was too late, while Radwanska had a typically bizarre WTA encounter with Angelique Kerber that both player choked in a weird opening set.
This match-up though is a nightmare for Radwanska, whose second serve is cannon fodder for Serena, whose power is too much for the variety, guile and defence of Aga.
In three of their last four meetings Williams has won the opening set in fewer than 8.5 games and if she starts on Saturday like she did on Friday the 2.15 about under 8.5 games in set one will look big.
Back under 8.5 games in set one of Williams/Radwanska at 2.15
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