1. Serena Williams v Sloane Stephens (RG, R4)
In the most anticipated women’s match of the tournament so far, Serena Williams came from a set and a break down to defeat Victoria Azarenka for the second time this year. It was a compelling match with plenty of talking points. Azarenka looked to be on her way to a huge victory, playing a superb opening set with her return and backhand both on song. Serena stayed in touch and began to find her form aided with some superb angles. There was a contentious point towards the end of the second set which I discussed a little bit HERE. Azarenka settled quickly in the third set but it didn’t last long as Serena was rampant towards the end, winning the last six games of the match. Serena now takes on Sloane Stephens for the third time this year. Sloane has powered through her first three matches including wins over Venus Williams, Heather Watson and Tsvetana Pironkova.
Sloane had that famous win over Serena at the Australian Open in 2013 but since, has lost their last three encounters. Serena won 6-4 6-1 at the US Open in 2013 in a match that featured a decent first set. Sloane won a set in their first encounter of 2015 in Indian Wells, eventually falling 6-7(7) 6-2 6-2. Their most recent encounter in Madrid was their most one-sided match to date with Serena winning, 6-4 6-1 and flying through a very one-sided second set. After such a tough match against Azarenka, I think that match will have helped to play her way into the tournament. I think it will be straight sets but Stephens *can* win a set with the right mental application.
Prediction: Williams d. Stephens in 2 sets
2. Sara Errani v Julia Goerges (RG, R4)
It’s unsettling to know that we now live in a world where Julia Goerges peaks for the Grand Slams. Goerges has reached the last 16 at both Slams this year which is a terrific achievement. Goerges upset Caroline Wozniacki in the second round with a straight sets victory. While I expected Wozniacki to prevail, it did not come as a surprise as Goerges has beaten Wozniacki twice before on clay. Goerges wobbled for a time in her third round match against Irina Falconi but came through in flying colours, winning 6-4 6-1. Errani has continued her excellent record at Roland Garros with her fourth consecutive appearance in the second week. After two three setters, Errani closed out Andrea Petkovic in straight sets, 6-3 6-3. I have no idea how this match will go and it all depends on Goerges… if she plays clean and consistent, she wins this in straights. However, this is Errani’s best surface and she has the ability to frustrate Goerges into errors. We’ve seen it all before. For that reason and based on where this match is taking place, i’m going for Sara.
Prediction: Errani d. Goerges in 3 sets