1. Simona Halep v Sabine Lisicki (US Open, R4)
Simona Halep has sauntered into the second week of the US Open with three comfortable victories over Marina Erakovic (6-2 3-0 ret.), Kateryna Bondarenko (6-3 6-4) and Shelby Rogers (6-2 6-3). Halep now faces a completely different proposition up against the hard-hitting, Sabine Lisicki. The former Wimbledon finalist didn’t drop serve through her first two matches including a surprisingly comfortable 6-4 6-0 dismissal of Camila Giorgi. Lisicki’s serve though was broken six times in a come-from-behind victory over Barbora Strycova in the last ever singles match on Grandstand Court which finished, 6-4 4-6 7-5. Strycova led 5-1 in the deciding set but Lisicki, who had a MTO during the third set, came back to triumph. The reaction upon winning was typically Sabine and there was a frosty handshake hahaha!
Halep leads Lisicki, 3-1 in the head-to-head. Lisicki won their first match in Stanford, 6-1 6-2 (!) but Halep has won their last three matches, the first two in three sets and the most recent one in straight sets in the quarter-finals of Wimbledon, 6-4 6-0 where the Romanian player outclassed her injury-affected opponent. Lisicki obviously has the shots to make this competitive but patience is another thing. Halep seems to be in such a great place right now and I think she will wear down Lisicki to break new ground at the US Open by reaching the quarter-finals.
Prediction: Halep d. Lisicki in 2 sets
2. Victoria Azarenka v Varvara Lepchenko (US Open, R4)
In the match of the tournament and perhaps, the WTA match of the year, Victoria Azarenka defeated Angelique Kerber, 7-5 2-6 6-4 in two hours and 52 minutes on Saturday. The quality of tennis never wavered through the three sets. Once again, it was a tough loss for Angie who played her heart out; she saved a string of break points at *5-4 in the first set and then even more impressively, resisted five match points at *3-5 in the third set with a flurry of awesome winners. Azarenka’s quality shone through at the end of the first set (she had been down *2-5) and then in the third set. Her ability to come in on the right ball to close off Kerber’s irresistable defence was one of the key differences between the pair in my opinion. Azarenka finished with 37 (out of 51) successful net approaches and 51 winners to 33 unforced errors. For a full recap of the Azarenka-Kerber match, click HERE.
Azarenka plays Varvara Lepchenko in the fourth round who came from a set down to beat Mona Barthel, 1-6 6-3 6-4. It was Lepchenko’s third consecutive victory over Barthel and second win from a set down, having played out a similar match in Stanford. I was gutted for Mona who was bidding to reach the fourth round of a Slam for the first time in her career. Lepchenko was deserving of her win though, serving out the match with some positive tennis. Azarenka leads the head-to-head, 3-1 and won their last match in Birmingham, 7-6(7) 6-4. It was a really tight match which Lepchenko had led *4-0 in the first set. It wouldn’t surprise me if there was a slight letdown from Vika after that incredible win over Kerber. I’d still take Vika in one tight and one more straightforward set.
Prediction: Azarenka d. Lepchenko in 2 sets