BOOM… A blockbuster of a quarter-final is all set for Wednesday as the world number one, Serena Williams will take on the world number five, Simona Halep at the 2016 US Open.
Serena Williams produced another terrific display to defeat Yaroslava Shvedova in fourth round action on Arthur Ashe stadium, 6-2 6-3 in 68 minutes. Shvedova played a pretty decent match but Serena was impeccable on serve. There were concerns pre-tournament about the shoulder that forced her to pull out of both Montreal and Cincy but she has found an exceptional rhythm on serve through her first four matches. Serena has faced just one break point all tournament (against Johanna Larsson in the third round) and has hit 42 aces. The draw has been kind so far with the world #29, Ekaterina Makarova in the first round her toughest match by ranking, but her quality has still shone through. The calibre of opponent ramps up significantly in the next round…
Halep defeated Carla Suárez Navarro in the first match of the day over on Louis Armstrong, 6-2 7-5. The first set scoreline was perhaps a little harsh on the Spaniard in the first set with half of the games going to deuce. There were some quality points and Suárez Navarro hit some wonderful backhands; however Halep was the sharper and more aggressive player, and vastly improved from her third round win over Timea Babos that went the distance.
Things got a little tight in the second set as Halep twice lost her break and failed to serve out the match at 6-2 *5-4. Perhaps the most impressive aspect of Halep’s performance was her ability to refocus and power through the frustration, of which there was plenty as she flung her racquet towards the end! After going down *0-30 when serving for the match for the second time, Halep reeled off four straight points including two fabulous passes as she marched into a second consecutive quarter-final at the US Open.
Head-to-head record: Serena leads Simona, 7-1 in their head-to-head. Simona’s lone win was a sensational, 6-0 6-2 triumph in Round Robin action at the WTA Finals in Singapore. Since then, Serena has won their last four matches and dropped just one set in the process. A couple of those matches were very competitive; Serena won in Miami, 7-5 in the third set, while she prevailed in a tight two setter of a final in Cincy, 6-3 7-6(5) in what was a superb contest.
Interesting stat: Halep has compiled a wonderful run of form since Madrid, winning 30 out of her last 34 matches and winning three titles in Madrid, Bucharest and Montreal. Halep is 8-2 against top 20 players since Madrid including three top ten wins over Angelique Kerber, Agnieszka Radwanska and Madison Keys.
Final thoughts: Halep is playing arguably her best tennis of the year right now and I think she is in the best position mentally to challenge Serena. The world number one though has looked in superb form at this tournament, particularly on serve; in respect of Simona’s recent level and the tough battles they have had in the past, I think that Serena will bring her A-game to this match-up.
Fingers crossed for another cracker!