Rio Olympics 2016: Semi-finals set, Kvitova v Puig and Kerber v Keys

Kvitova

After a rain-drenched Wednesday, the women’s quarter-finals were finally played on Thursday. All four were decided in straight sets with no more than three games dropped in any of the eight sets! In the end, it was Petra Kvitova, Monica Puig, Madison Keys and Angelique Kerber who have advanced to the medal matches.

The first of the semi-finals will be contested between Petra Kvitova and Monica Puig. Both players have had dreamy weeks; Kvitova has reached just her second semi-final of the year and has won four matches at the same tournament for the first time in 2016. Puig meanwhile is riding the Olympics wave and has produced some stirring tennis, dropping just 14 games in four matches and only four (!) in her last two matches.

Kvitova backed up a gutsy come-from-behind win over Ekaterina Makarova in the third round with a 6-2 6-0 triumph of Serena’s conqueror, Elina Svitolina. Kvitova dropped just four points behind her serve and hit fewer unforced errors than Svitolina (11 to 16) in the 48-minute contest. Puig stunned Garbiñe Muguruza in the third round and recorded another 6-1 6-1 scoreline with a quarter-final win over Laura Siegemund, going six out of six on break point opportunities.

The second semi-final will be contested between Angelique Kerber and Madison Keys. The American was first up on Centre Court as she defeated Daria Kasatkina, 6-3 6-1. The scoreline could have been even more routine as Keys had led 5-0 in the first set before Kasatkina mounted a mini-comeback. Keys’s stats were solid, hitting 30 winners to 19 unforced errors and dropping serve just once. Kasatkina’s had another great tournament but she has struggled against in-form big hitters this year and will need to develop her game more to contest these types of matches and try and not be overawed.

In the last of the quarter-finals, Kerber produced a supremely solid display as she benefited from 43 unforced errors produced by an erratic, Johanna Konta to sail through to the semi-finals, 6-1 6-2. For Konta, she couldn’t get her game going after the epic three hour plus third round win over Svetlana Kuznetsova as Kerber cruised into the medal rounds.

I’m fascinated by both semi-finals and i’m hoping they will be more competitive than the one-sided quarter-finals. Kvitova and Puig will be playing for the first time in their career. Kvitova has had a miserable year by her standards but she’s putting it together this week, once again finding form playing for her country. It’s worth noting that she has often been clutch in the latter stages of tournaments; Kvitova has won nine out of her last 11 semi-finals and is 17-6 in finals at WTA level.

Puig is another player who is absolutely thriving playing for her country. The Puerto Rican has had a great year but the Olympics has elevated her level above and beyond; she’s not just been producing wins, but CRUSHING wins against high quality opposition. It will be interesting to see how she copes with this situation and the prospect of an Olympic medal on the horizon. If she can stay focused, there’s no reason why she can’t make it to the gold medal match.

Kerber leads Keys, 4-1 in their head-to-head; it’s a match-up that favours Kerber with the lefty serve into Keys’s backhand. However, the American has competed well with the pair splitting their finals in Eastbourne (2014) and Charleston (2015) with both being decided 7-5 in the decider. Kerber won their most recent encounter in Miami, 6-3 6-2.

Keys continues to rack up the wins and she’s found that consistent streak in the past few months which is very pleasing to see. For Kerber, the win over Bouchard in the second round was a big win and she’s looked so confident in her game. I love the variety that she’s begun to introduce effectively into her game with the slices and the drop shots. Kerber didn’t play her best match against Konta, but she didn’t need to do any more than she did, keeping things solid as Konta’s game somewhat imploded with a river of unforced errors.

For Kvitova-Puig, i’m struggling to pick a winner. For Kerber-Keys, i’m feeling more confident in picking Kerber. In fact, i’m backing Kerber to win the gold medal from here. Seriously though, i’m absolutely loving this line-up and i’ll be chuffed for whoever wins the medals… the podium is going to be awesome! It will be rough though for whoever misses out :-(.

In the women’s doubles semi-finals, Safarova and Strycova (yay!) will play Makarova and Vesnina, and Bacsinszky and Hingis will take on Hlavackova and Hradecka. There’s a guaranteed medal for the Czechs! On a personal level, i’ll be cheering for a Safarova-Strycova v Bacsinszky-Hingis final. I’m so thrilled to see Lucie contesting for the medals having been forced to pull out of singles with a stomach issue (she’s a fighter) and also Timea too having suffered a devastating first round loss from match points up.

It’s going to be a FUN weekend! 😀

Photo in this post by mootennis.com

13 thoughts on “Rio Olympics 2016: Semi-finals set, Kvitova v Puig and Kerber v Keys

  1. Today was a bummer. I haven’t been able to watch tennis at all this week and after reading your summaries, I was really happy about the rain in Rio yesterday because it meant that I could watch all four quarter finals today. Well, that was a disappointment. It’s a shame that Laura Siegemund seemed to have a back injury. I was really looking forward to that one. And I don’t know what happened to Svitolina and Konta. In Melbourne, JK was at least trying to fight or change something about her game. Play a couple of safe balls here and there to get some rhythm. But this time? Hitting each and every ball long.
    Hoping for a Kerber-Puig final.

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    • In fairness to Konta she must have been tired and sore from the Kuznetsova match. I didn’t watch as was watching Monfils v Cilic.

      I’m torn on both matches. I kind of feel like Keys is stepping up to the plate here and is ready to go for Gold, but it’s become so difficult to bet against Kerber…
      And I think Puig will fancy an upset here. She plays really well against big, flat hitting tall women. But I’ve bet against Petra from the start here and here she is!

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    • Yes, a shame about Laura because I was looking forward to a very competitive match. Puig thrives on adversity, but I won’t begrudge her a win here. She has been performing tactically well all tournament. I remember being a bit unhappy with Johanna playing Rogers cup and not resting before Rio. The Rio courts do play a bit like Australia, but the weather here is tropical, you will feel any signs of fatigue.

      I am conflicted as well by the matchups, these are really the girls who’ve kept their head in the game and performed beyond. Disregarding heart, I would’ve picked Puig over Petra, but I feel Petra’s advantage here is her lefty play. I wonder if these girls approach this as purely singles encounters or a FED cup encounter of the highest order.

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      • Yeah Puig hasn’t had the best record against lefties. I’d love to see her win though. I’ve been stanning for her for a while now so I’m just thrilled to see her get a big breakthrough now.

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    • Yeah I was excited about the QF line-up but they didn’t deliver unfortunately. Konta just had an off day, perhaps a hangover from that brilliant win over Kuznetsova. Hopefully the SFs will be more competitive.

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  2. While I personally think Halep did the smart thing in blowing off Rio to focus on Cincy and NY, I wonder if she regrets just a little not showing up the way the semis worked out. It’s loaded with Puig, who Halep has never played, and three of her usual chew toys who she’s 10-3 against. All Halep needed to do was make the semis herself to reap a medal for Romania, in all likelihood.

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  3. Lucie Safarova was blessed with the rain and is feeling good now, she can finally eat. We will see whether they will overplay the Russian couple. Kvitova had an easy match with Svitolina being out of order, I am really looking forward to the match with Puig, like them both.

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  4. typical petra, almost serves a bagel then falls apart next set. she won’t win the bronze match either, berber or keys will deliver

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    • I didn’t get to watch the match but there’s a rally posted on youtube where Kvitova was hitting the line repeatedly and Puig just kept putting the ball back, really impressive stuff. I’d love her to win Gold.

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      • Andrew said, “I’d love her to win Gold.”

        I would too. If she can play against Angie the way she did against Petra and Garbi I think she’s got a chance.

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