Cincinnati Semifinal Preview: Serena Williams and More


Aug 21, 2015; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Serena Williams (USA) reacts against Ana Ivanovic (not pictured) in the quarterfinals during the Western and Southern Open tennis tournament at the Linder Family Tennis Center. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

WTA Cincinnati Semifinal Preview: Serena Williams, Simona Halep and More In Action

And then there were four.

On Saturday, the women of the WTA will contest the semifinals in Cincinnati. As is typical for the WTA, chaos has dominated the Cincinnati draw. In the final four, two pillars of consistency (Serena Williams and Simona Halep) have managed to avoid the upset bug and venture deep in the draw. Meanwhile, 14th seed Elina Svitolina and Cincinnati favourite Jelena Jankovic have benefitted from their own impressive performances and the inconsistency of the top stars. They will have great shots to reach the final against the fatigued Halep and Williams.

Here’s a look at today’s top matches.

Serena Williams [1] vs. Elina Svitolina [14]

Defending champion Serena Williams will face off against Elina Svitolina for a chance to defend her title in Cincinnati. Serena survived an excellent Ana Ivanovic and her own mediocre play to reach the semifinal, prevailing in three tight sets against the Serb. Ivanovic was a set and a break up at one point and looked set to avenge her loss to Serena in last year’s final. But as she does so often, Serena rallied after a slow start and fought back from the brink of defeat.

Her opponent, Svitolina, has had an impressive week, going (at least) one better than her quarterfinal showing here last year. Svitolina’s world-class retrieving skills have been particularly effective against erratic opponents, including Lucie Safarova and Eugenie Bouchard.

And Serena may present Svitolina with yet another erratic opponent. Serena hasn’t been at her best throughout the past two weeks, and was taken out by a much more consistent Belinda Bencic in Toronto. Svitolina will present a similar challenge to Serena. If the American is off her game, Svitolina will be able to draw a multitude of errors, while striking winners whenever the opportunity presents itself.

Serena claimed their most recent meeting at the Australian Open this year. In that match, the American suffered from a slow start, ultimately losing the first set. She then incrementally broke through the Ukrainian’s defence to claim victory in 3 sets. Given her subpar performances this week, expect a similar tale to play out in this match. Ultimately, Serena Williams should take out a tough three setter.

Prediction: Serena Williams in 3.

Who Will Win: Serena Williams or Elina Svitolina?

Simona Halep [3] vs. Jelena Jankovic

By backing up her finals appearance in Toronto with a semifinal showing in Cincinnati, Simona Halep has joined Serena as the only constant throughout the haywire US Open Series. Halep comes into the semifinal match having seen off Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in straight sets. The Romanian appeared exhausted throughout the match and exhibited pain in her left leg. After dropping serve early, Halep broke through Nastia’s exceptional serving. She was able to recover the break before taking the first set in a tiebreak. She then delivered a much cleaner performance in the second set to waltz into the semifinal.

More from Serena Williams

She will now face the “thirty and flirty” Jelena Jankovic. As a former champion, JJ simply loves Cincinnati. Her love affair continued in her quarterfinal match, which was concluded in much easier fashion than Halep’s. JJ played a solid, consistent match, using her exceptional defensive skills and backhand to take out an average Anna Karolina Schmiedlova in straight sets.

Halep leads the head-to-head 5-1, claiming both of their encounters this year. The first took place in the Indian Wells final, in which a dismal Halep barely squeaked by JJ to claim the title. The second occurred just last week in Toronto. Again, Halep was the more stable player and managed to defeat the Serb in 2 sets. Like all of their matches, their clash in Toronto was arduous and physically taxing.

Halep will most likely be coming into this match physically impaired. Towards the end of her match against Nastia, Halep altered her service motion and groundstrokes to avoid putting pressure on her left leg. That won’t be good enough against a player who loves gruelling exchanges and long rallies as match as JJ. Halep has done well this week to grind out victories, but it’s hard to see her coming out of the inevitably physical tussle with Jankovic. The Romanian will continue to fight and will produce some sensational shots, but expect her body to eventually fail her and see her fall to Jankovic in three tight sets.

Prediction: Jelena Jankovic in 3.

Who Will Win: Simona Halep or Jelena Jankovic?

Who do you think will reach the Cincinnati final? Let us know in the comments below!

Next: Can Eugenie Bouchard Revive Her Season?

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