1. Sloane Stephens v Louisa Chirico (Washington, QF)
The surprise package this week in DC has been Louisa Chirico who set up an all-American quarter-final against Sloane Stephens in DC. Chirico followed up her first round win over Heather Watson with a super victory over Alizé Cornet, 7-5 4-6 7-6(4) in a match that lasted exactly three hours. Chirico failed to serve out the match at *5-4 in a break-happy third set but refocused to win the third set tiebreak. Chirico has performed well on the ITF circuit this year and in these very, very, very early days, has shown promising signs in her jump up to the WTA tournaments. She has an aggressive game with clear weapons, notably the serve and the backhand. In a gruelling battle with Cornet, Chirico rallied well and was tactically sound.
Stephens received a walkover after Svetlana Kuznetsova was forced to pull out with a lower leg injury. It was a shame because this would have been a very intriguing match-up and I spent allll that time writing a preview! All the pressure in this match will be on Stephens but she’s handled it so much better this year. Chirico’s a threat for sure but Stephens has been playing consistently well over the past few months… Sloane for the win.
Prediction: Stephens d. Chirico in 2 tight sets
2. Sam Stosur v Monica Niculescu (Washington, QF)
Sam Stosur‘s on a nice run right now; she won a clay court title in Bad Gastein two weeks ago and is now in the quarter-finals of Washington. While she is seeded to make the final you never quite know what to expect from Sam! In what was a tough-to-call first rounder, Stosur ousted Kristina Mladenovic with consumate ease, 6-2 6-2. While she was down for much of the second set of her second round match against Irina Falconi, she mounted an impressive comeback to close out the match in straight sets, 6-1 7-5.
Her opponent in the quarters, Monica Niculescu recovered from a breadstick opening set in her second round match on Wednesday to defeat Lauren Davis, 1-6 6-1 6-4. Since winning an ITF tournament at Marseille in the second week of the French Open, Niculescu has enjoyed some excellent results.
In my head this feels like a match-up that should completely bamboozle Stosur. However, Stosur’s won all five previous matches the pair have played, dropping just two sets along the way. Their last match at the Australian Open earlier this year saw Stosur come through for the loss of just five games. Stosur is on a seven match winning streak and is looking pretty decent right now. She’s always capable of throwing in a shocker but I fancy her chances in this match with the one-sided head-to-head record.
Prediction: Stosur d. Niculescu in 2 sets