This post features two snap previews for last 16 action at the 2017 US Open from the bottom half of the women’s draw including Garbiñe Muguruza vs. Petra Kvitova and Julia Goerges vs. Sloane Stephens – both matches will be played on Sunday. For a round-up of results from the bottom half of the women’s draw on Friday, check out the latest Set Points post on Moo’s Tennis Blog HERE.
1. Garbiñe Muguruza vs. Petra Kvitova (US Open, R4)
Yet to drop a set through the first three rounds, Garbiñe Muguruza and Petra Kvitova will come together for a blockbuster fourth rounder on Sunday in New York. Muguruza has yet to lose more than four games in any of the six sets she has played this week. On Friday, she tore past Magdalena Rybarikova, 6-1 6-1, repeating the scoreline of their Wimbledon semi-final earlier this year. Muguruza handled Rybarikova’s variety with ease and delivered another efficient display to reach the last 16 of the US Open for the first time in her career.
Kvitova was tested in her opening match against Jelena Jankovic, needing two 7-5 sets to see off the Serb, but has since cruised into the last 16. The Czech player was in brilliant form to get past Caroline Garcia in the third round, 6-0 6-4. Kvitova didn’t face any break points (perhaps also a result of Garcia’s return) and was consistent in rallies, hitting 22 winners to 14 unforced errors. In her press conference, Kvitova stated that she thought her performance against Garcia was of a higher level than any of her matches during her title run in Birmingham.
Head-to-head record: Kvitova leads the head-to-head, 2-1. Muguruza won their first encounter at the WTA Finals back in 2015, 6-4 4-6 7-5, yet Kvitova has since taken control of this match-up with wins in Stuttgart (6-1 3-6 6-0) and Beijing (6-1 6-4).
Interesting stats: Since a crushing loss to Barbora Strycova in Eastbourne, Muguruza has won 19 of her last 21 matches. For Kvitova, she has won a trio of matches at the same tournament for the first time since Birmingham. Beating Garcia was her second top 20 win since her comeback in May and this match-up with Muguruza will be the first top ten player she has faced since playing Madison Keys in Beijing towards the end of 2016.
Final thoughts: Absolutely fascinated by this match-up and while i’d selfishly love it to be in the day session, it deserves to be the night match on Ashe. Kvitova has had the edge over Muguruza in recent match-ups – in her last two wins over the Spaniard, her serve was better, return more impactful and the forehand was the key stroke.
To factor into this particular encounter is that Muguruza arrives in arguably the best form of her career. Since winning Wimbledon, the Spaniard has continued to build momentum with a series of convincing displays. Muguruza has been so secure in her game and competing brilliantly, clearly feeding off a huge bank of confidence. Muguruza has the clear edge in recent form and consistency, yet Kvitova will always have the potential to catch a hot streak. You just never know when Peak Petra will make an appearance…
2. Julia Goerges vs. Sloane Stephens (US Open, R4)
Carrying on from their stunning summer runs, Julia Goerges and Sloane Stephens will square off with a place in a first US Open quarter-final up for grabs for the winner. Goerges has won 18 of her last 25 matches on tour – while she reached three finals in that run (on three different surfaces!), arguably her most impressive tournament was Cincy where she beat two top ten players in Agnieszka Radwanska and Elina Svitolina to reach the quarter-finals.
Goerges was primed for a deep run at the US Open and she has totally delivered with a trio of straight set wins. Goerges produced a clinical display to see off Aleksandra Krunic in the third round, using her serve to set up the points brilliantly. The German player hit 27 winners to 14 unforced errors and held her nerve at the very end, staving off three break points to serve out the win, 6-3 6-3.
Since returning from a year lay-off for a foot injury, Stephens has made a rapid comeback and without doubt, is playing the best tennis of her career. The American player reached back-to-back semi-finals in Toronto and Cincy, and has racked up 11 wins on her return to the tour, all of them against top 50 opposition.
All the match wins seem to be feeding Stephen’s confidence as she was clutch in the key moments of her 6-2 6-4 third round win over Ash Barty on Friday. Stephens had the upper hand in rallies – she was more consistent and able to get better depth on her groundstrokes, winning big on the rallies down the middle and being the one to take charge and find the angles. Her footwork and movement remain huge assets to her game.
Head-to-head record: Stephens has won four of their five meetings, prevailing in their most recent encounter in the quarter-finals of Cincy earlier this summer, 6-1 7-6(3). Goerges’s lone win came on the clay courts of Strasbourg back in 2014.
Interesting stat: Goerges and Stephens are both into the last 16 of a Slam for the first time since the 2015 French Open. For Stephens, she is bidding to reach her first Slam quarter-final since Wimbledon 2013, while Goerges is going for her first EVER Slam quarter-final!
Final thoughts: While this match-up was not expected based on ranking, it comes as absolutely no surprise with both carrying on their superb form during the summer. Goerges has always had the ball-striking abilities, yet seems to be putting it together on a much more consistent basis. The same has been the case for Stephens who is seemingly thriving on her return, dismissing the pressure and expectation that was previously placed on her shoulders, and just simply enjoying her tennis.
Both have looked in great form to reach this stage. I’d have to give a slight edge to Stephens after their recent match in Cincy. Despite playing some supperb tennis of late, Goerges has come up short on occasion in a handful of key matches, most notably the three finals. This is arguably the biggest match of Goerges’s career, trying to break new ground at Slam, and she’ll be up against it playing a red-hot, Stephens who was sensational in the crux moments against Barty.
Looking forward in the draw:
The winner of Muguruza vs. Kvitova will play either Venus Williams or Carla Suárez Navarro in the quarter-finals, while the winner of Goerges vs. Stephens will take on either Maria Sharapova or Anastasija Sevastova. Polls for the remaining fourth round matches to be played on Sunday can be found below.