Ekaterina Makarova defeated Eugenie Bouchard in a tight two setter, 7-6(2) 6-4 to book her spot in the quarter-finals. This means that Serena Williams is the only top eight seed remaining. Considering the heat and humidity, Bouchard and Makarova fought out an intense and high quality fourth rounder. Bouchard was visibly struggling towards the end, but still threatened to come back in both sets. Makarova played a superb match and maintained her concentration throughout the one hour and 44 minute contest. Most of the discussion after the match seemed to center around Genie, but it was Makarova who, on this occasion, deserved all the plaudits. Predictions have been rather obsolete for this tournament, but Makarova was the one ray of sunshine in my draw…
1. Peng Shuai v Belinda Bencic (WTA US Open, QF)
Wow. I still can’t quite believe that there will be a Grand Slam quarter-final between Belinda Bencic and Peng Shuai. Both players will be contesting their first Grand Slam quarter-final, one of the most surprising in recent memory. Bencic and Peng have rightfully earnt their place in the final eight with each player securing a top ten win this fortnight. Peng knocked out the number four seed, Agnieszka Radwanska in the second round and has followed that up with two straight sets victories over Roberta Vinci and Lucie Safarova. I was sad for Lucie, but this was another encouraging tournament for the Czech player. Bencic has knocked out two top ten players in Angelique Kerber and Jelena Jankovic. She saved set points against both players and has shown a maturity well beyond her years. On Sunday night, she played her first ever match on Ashe, defeating Jankovic, 7-6 6-3.
This is a tough one to call. Bencic has been mentally very strong this week, defeating two top ten players without a great deal of fuss. On the other hand, Peng has been serving so well and playing aggressively. The Chinese player has suffered with so many niggly injuries of late, but appears to be fit and healthy right now, and has benefitted from winning all her matches in straight sets. I’m really on the fence with this one because it’s a new occasion for both so it’s difficult to determine how they will respond. I think Peng has played the better tennis, but Bencic has had the bigger wins… i’m going with Belinda.
Prediction: Bencic d. Peng in 3 sets
2. Caroline Wozniacki v Sara Errani (WTA US Open, QF)
The bottom half lost it’s highest remaining seed on Sunday as Caroline Wozniacki produced a stirring performance to take out Maria Sharapova in three sets, 6-4 2-6 6-2. It was a brilliant match and one of Wozniacki’s best ever performances. She had a great intensity about her in that third set and was fully deserving of the upset win. You can read my full recap of that match HERE. Wozniacki becomes the favourite to make the final from the bottom half, but tennis is tennis so expect the unexpected…
Sara Errani ended the fairytale run of Mirjana Lucic-Baroni to book her place in the quarter-finals. It’s been a surprising week for Errani, who had struggled for form since the end of the clay court season. The Italian player scored one of the biggest wins of her career with a third set tiebreak victory over Venus Williams in the third round. The likes of Angelique Kerber and Jelena Jankovic have struggled against Errani in the past because of their inability to generate enough power to hit through Errani. Wozniacki’s game is in a similar mould to that of Kerber and JJ so this won’t be straightforward. The Dane is one of the fittest players on tour and I think she can match Errani for consistency, even if she struggles to hit winners past her. She is one of the best competitors on tour and her mindset is normally very positive. I think this match will be tougher than most people anticipate, but i’m going for Caro to come through.
Prediction: Wozniacki d. Errani in 3 sets