US Open Day 7, 4th Round WTA Predictions: Serena-Sloane, Jankovic-Li and more

The top half of the womens draw has produced four really strong match-ups and I thought each deserved a preview so here goes…

1. Serena Williams v Sloane Stephens
Serena Williams
The most anticipated match-up in the ladies draw so far will see Serena Williams take on Sloane Stephens in an all-American blockbuster clash.  Sloane and Serena met for the first time at the start of the year in Brisbane where Serena edged an entertaining affair, 6-4 6-3.  They then met again in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open where Sloane produced one of the upsets of the year, coming from a set down to defeat an injury riddled Serena.  The match-up will also have some extra spice after Sloane came out with some harsh words for Serena in an ESPN article in May.  Sloane did come out and apologise and it appears things have been nicely swept under the carpet… however this is still going to be a fascinating match with Serena heaping a load of pressure on Sloane in press.

Back to the tennis and both have strolled through their last two matches.  Sloane came out nervous and restrained in her first round win over Mandy Minella, but shook off the nerves for a 6-1 6-1 demolition of Urszula Radwanska.  Yesterday she seemed to deal with the occasion much better than Jamie Hampton as she posted a 6-1 6-3 victory.  Serena has not been tested yet this week and progressed past a particularly tricky opponent in Yaroslava Shvedova in Friday’s night match.  I have not always been impressed with Sloane’s attitude, but one thing you can credit her with is that she has always brought her best tennis to the big occasion.  Along with Serena and Radwanska, she is the only player to have made the 4th round of each Grand Slam in 2013.  An upset possible? I think Serena is going to be absolutely raring to go for this one and will fight to the death to come out of this clash with a win…

Prediction – Serena to beat Sloane in 2 sets (1 tight, 1 easy)

2. Jelena Jankovic v Li Na
Li Na

From the four womens matches in the top half, this one between Jelena Jankovic and Li Na is the toughest one to call.  Tied at 4-4 in the head-to-head, it is Jankovic who has won their last 3 matches including an epic 7-6(2) 7-5 victory in Rome earlier this year.  That was not a good match at all, but it had enough drama to make this a must watch match-up.  Jankovic had two excellent wins in the first two rounds against Madison Keys and Alisa Kleybanova, and yesterday was forced to dig her way out against an inspired effort from the Japanese qualifier, Kurumi Nara.  Li has been excellent so far this week and I was extremely impressed by an efficient 6-2 7-5 victory over Laura Robson, who did as well as she could based on the amount of time she had to prepare the US.  Li has been great so far, but she is always prone to a shocker.  JJ has a game that can frustrate Li so I am going slightly left field and predicting a Jankovic win.

Prediction – Jankovic to beat Li in 3 sets

3. Agnieszka Radwanska v Ekaterina Makarova
Aga Radwanska

It has been another super solid tournament from Agnieszka Radwanska who is 6-0 in sets so far this tournament.  She did have her toughest match of the week so far against Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who put up a game fight in the second set before collapsing in the tiebreak and losing 6-4 7-6(1).  Aga now takes on Ekaterina Makarova, who took out the Wimbledon finalist Sabine Lisicki in a tight two setter yesterday.  Every now and then Makarova goes on a good run and her leftie game can trouble anyone on it’s day as wins over Serena and Vika have proven.  The head-to-head is heavily in favour of Aga with 3 wins and no sets dropped.  I do not see an upset in this one as Aga has been playing some good stuff this summer…

Prediction – Radwanska to beat Makarova in 2 very tight sets

4. Angelique Kerber v Carla Suarez Navarro
Carla Suarez Navarro

The section that I was hunting for upsets in and called completely wrong will see two players who have not had stellar summer seasons try and make it into the quarters of the US Open.  Angelique Kerber has had her best tournament in ages as she took out Eugenie Bouchard in the second round and then overcame a nervy ending to exact revenge on a Wimbledon loss to Kaia Kanepi, 6-0 6-4.  The tricky Spaniard, Carla Suarez Navarro has had a really consistent year and it is so great to see her living up to the potential with no injury clouds over her head.  This will be a first career match and I think it has the potential to be the most high quality encounter of the four matches.  Suarez has a really beautiful game, but she lacks the killer intensity in the crucial matches; that is why she is still the best player on the tour not to have won a title and also why I think Kerber will take this match…

Prediction – Kerber to beat Suarez Navarro in 3 sets

After a very shaky start, I have had a pretty good week of predictions and correctly predicted 6 out of 8 from the top half of the womens draw.  Let’s see how Sunday goes!

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