US Open Day 10, Quarter-Final Preview: Finally… Simona Halep v Victoria Azarenka

Simona HalepThe Victoria Azarenka-Simona Halep match-up has been on my bucket list all year and finally, finally, FINALLY, we will get to see it!  The excitement is very slightly muted after watching a seemingly injured Halep scramble her way into the quarter-finals, coming from a set and a break down to beat Sabine Lisicki in a MESSY match, 6-7(8) 7-5 6-2. To be fair to both players, the conditions were brutal and the heat rule was called into effect after the second set. The first set was extremely tortuous; Lisicki twice led by a break, both times failing to consolidate, and then Halep was unable to serve out the set at *5-4. The Romanian player had a set point but Lisicki broke back.

The set went into the tiebreak where there were actually some decent points. Halep struggled to find the balance between defence and attack, and made a lot of errors off the forehand. Halep had the mini-break at 5-3 but Lisicki knucked down. There was one particular point I have in mind where Lisicki took the pace off and utilised the extreme angle, eventually closing out the point and soon after, the set. Halep looked to be in big trouble, clearing suffering in the heat and hindered by a thigh injury that was strapped up by the trainer on the changeover.

The second set was almost identical to the first with Lisicki twice going up a break and Halep failing to serve out the set. At times, Lisicki was reasonably patient and took the pace off the ball… many other times, she didn’t do this and missed the court altogether! Halep kept fighting hard and eventually toughed out the set. Lisicki took a MTO at the end of the second set with both players going off during the break.

Lisicki seemed to be cramping during the final set as Halep looked to be the more physically stable. A gorgeous volley helped Halep break to *4-2 and she recovered from *0-30 down in the next service game to hold and then break to reach her first ever quarter-final at the US Open. The stats for this match (see below) were NOT pretty! It was a really gutsy win from Halep although it does leave some question marks ahead about her injury.

Azarenka backed up her win over Angelique Kerber with a solid performance against Varvara Lepchenko, winning 6-3 6-4. It wouldn’t have been a surprise if there was a letdown from Vika after that sensational third round match but she was focussed and pumped up during the match. Azarenka failed to serve out the match, playing a little too passively and waiting for errors from Lepchenko. She righted the ship in the next game, breaking for the win.

There was some excellent rallies in the second set and credit to Lepchenko who has improved so much in the last few years. Previously, Lepchenko always seemed to have major lapses in concentration and get tight in crucial moments but she is much more solid these days. Her health derailed her for quite sometime after an excellent start to the year in Australia but she seems to be back playing well again. Azarenka was sporting strapping on her upper arms, looking like armbands, which she revealed in the post-match interview was due to her outfit rubbing on her skin.

Sooooo… Azarenka v Halep! In their two previous matches, both in 2012, Azarenka beat Halep, 6-3 6-1 in Doha and 6-1 6-1 in Linz. However, these results can kind of be discounted since this was before Halep made her rapid rise up the rankings to relevance on the WTA tour. I’m disappointed that Halep appears not to be 100% although she will have Tuesday to recover. Azarenka herself has had injury concerns so I really hope that injuries doesn’t affect the match in anyway!

Halep strolled through her first three matches, but was below-par against Lisicki. However, winning a match like that, one that could so have easily been the end of her tournament for her, will no doubt have been a confidence boost. Azarenka has played high quality tennis in her last two matches and if she can maintain her proactive gameplan by charging the net, I think she’ll have the edge in this one.

Hoping for a great match! 🙂

Prediction: Azarenka d. Halep in 3 sets

Photo in this post by Jimmie48 Tennis Photography

41 thoughts on “US Open Day 10, Quarter-Final Preview: Finally… Simona Halep v Victoria Azarenka

      • Halep trades the Azarenka power for mobility so it really is an interesting match. Roof probably does favour Vika, especially with her dodgy serve. A lot depends on how Halep recovers from the Lisicki match and if Vika sustains her level, I suppose. If Azarenka can’t close Halep out, given the chance, she may have an issue.

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  1. as i said in my comment of the draw prediction i see Halep in the final despite my rooting for Vika.however after i saw both Halep and Vika matches at this US open i really hope Vika will contradict my prediction and made it to the final.Vika seems in better shape and form but i dont forget Halep won matches when i didnt think she will prevail so is still hard to predict the outcome of this one.i think Vika will have a better chance if this QF will be on day session as Halep is obviously not confortable in heat and have problems.but to be fair it will be better to see them playing at their best and offer us an epic QF.

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    • Good point here. I expected Halep to go out first match in Cincy but she reached the final. This is why I went against my initial thoughts of two sets. Halep has a whole day to recover as well.

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  2. Yup, this will be one hell of a match, IF the injuries are not serious and can be recovered soon. yeah and somehow i’m on the same page as you, eventough i think Halep has a huge chance of winning this match, but azarenka has TOO. never underestimate player like her,with such strong mentality and more matured, i mean every players must have a hard time in their career. Like how good Maria and Serena comebacks from injuries. And I’m sure,Vika will comeback stronger too. So many fresh young generation like Halep,Keys, Bencic, Muguruza. But, the ‘past’ Superpowers ( in this decade) Serena, Maria,Azarenka,for me is still the big 3 that will ruling Women’s tennis some more years. Kvitova definetly up there too, but in terms of Achievements,Dramas, Charisma, the top 3 still got it. at least for me. Azarenka in three.

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    • I think Kvitova has given a relatively good account of her potential. She is certainly one of the positive lights among that young generation. Although, I believe when Maria and Serena and others leave, there wouldn’t particularly be any dominant female. Likely a group of top female players all rotating the power crown. Lisicki is such a loose canon, otherwise she could have been like (Charlize Theron) in Mad Maxx, showing up sometimes at the tournaments or Slams to crunch a few heads together.

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  3. Lisicki should of won this match in 2 sets. Halep had an easy draw and Lisicki showed that she is not ready for a slam. Vika will make quick work with her and Vika isn’t even playing good. Petra got an easy draw and Penneta would expose her.

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  4. At the start of the tournament, I thought this half was going to be the easiest, simplest route to the final, but from what I’ve seen of the girls in this section, it’s like the walking dead., making mountains out of molehills.

    Victoria can beat both Halep or Lisicki. It will depend on who gets their tactics right, and keeps their head in the game. Vika may be the fresher of the two, but to be honest, she doesn’t do too well with hot humid conditions either. If Halep is truly ailing on her thigh, Vika will punish her( yes, she is that wicked..lol).

    My concerns for today are however with certain Williams clash.

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  5. As a tennis WTA expert I can predict a tough victory for Halep. Halep have a 4.65 GSD, Azarenka 3.85 GSD for this tournament. The physically stats OTSW are also better for Halep with 12.688 versus 11.251.
    CTO looks almost identical. The score simulation result is Halep – Azarenka 4-6, 6-4, 7-5

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      • Simona was #2 seed so even before the tourney kicked off it would be expected that she have an easier draw than many others. Let’s not pretend that she can only beat low-ranked players, eh. There’s nothing lucky about winning 135 of your last 170 matches, getting yourself to #2 in the world and being in the Top 3 for all but 2 of the last 70-odd weeks.

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  6. Sharapova wasn’t missed at all. Her stocks is way down and seems irrelevant. If Serena doesn’t make more endorsements money than. sugarpova this year it will be a criminal offense.

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  7. Azarenka in straight sets here, although they haven’t played since 2012; Victoria is smart. Halep is as well, but Victoria has the weapons to bother Halep. Halep will have an excuse – her troublesome leg. But I see Azarenka handling this one easily. She should direct a lot of traffic to Halep’s forehand, wide and high.

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  8. Going on both players previous matches,Azarenka to me has been the better player,regardless of Halep’s obvious leg injury she had in her match against Sabine,which is a match I would prefer to forget quite frankly:)
    I picked Azarenka from the start of the tournament to make the final,her game suits the courts at the USO,she played a great match against Kerber.Azarenka in straight sets.

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    • i hope the gods listen to you,Margaret and Vika will won in straight sets but i remember Halep raised from the dead after her Toronto final with Bencic and couple of days later took Mladenovic in 3 hard sets.and in my opinion Halep took Kerber as well in a match who wasn‘t with nothing inferior with the match Vika -Kerber at this tournament.

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      • My concern for Halep is her leg,though she does have a day off,also she has withdrawn from her doubles match on the advice of her coach,which to me is a good decision.Halep at stages through her previous match could not push off on her leg when she was serving,she will be facing Azarenka who is one of the best returners in the women’s game,also Azarenka likes to take the ball on and come forward.I feel Halep has to play an aggressive game against Azarenka.Still I favour Azarenka.

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  9. They all play for second place. Vika will play Serena in the final. Don’t you think it is strange that Vika withdrew from previous tournaments to avoid Halep. Halep has no ideas about Vika game plans now. Vika is not Lisicki. She has no chance this one.

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  10. Congrats to Halep defeating Azarenka for the first time:) at one stage in this match the glaring stat for Halep was her inability to convert her many BPS? still what impressed me was her overall high percentage of serving,also playing aggressive,some of her bhands were great to watch.I really thought when Azarenka got the early break in the 3rd set she would go on with it? though some UFE from Azarenka at crucial times in this match cost her.Well done Halep!

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    • as i told you Margaret what i was afraid it happened,Halep raised up her game and my Vika was unable to cope with it.sad day for me as a fan but a great day for women tennis.so now it seems my Serena-Halep final has 80% chance to happen.as of this day i will watch most of Halep matches coz she proved is one tough cookie:)

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      • Vika had her chances to win the match,I am also a Vika fan:) Halep said ‘thank God for the Rain:) maybe the break did help her in a way,still she played more aggressive after they resumed play and deserved her win.

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    • They all must have gone in their holes now.
      Shame on all of them who were not giving halep her due credit, what did vika do in the match, she took the 2nd set all on simona uf errors nothing on her own,still vika is considered better player because she has won slams,,huh:@

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