US Open Day 9 Preview: Serena Williams and More


Sep 6, 2015; New York, NY, USA;

Serena Williams of the USA celebrates after a shot to Madison Keys of the USA on day seven of the 2015 U.S. Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

US Open Day 9: Women’s Quarterfinal Preview

On day 9 of the US Open, two of the four women’s quarterfinals will be played. One quarterfinal features two veteran American stars on home soil, in the form of Venus and Serena Williams. The other features two surprising additions who have worked through massacred draws to compete for a grand slam semifinal spot: Roberta Vinci and Kristina Mladenovic.

Here’s a preview of the women’s matches to be played today:

Serena Williams [1] vs. Venus Williams [23]

It wasn’t so long ago that we waited with bated breath for an all-Williams, Serena vs Venus matchup at a grand slam. But for the second consecutive grand slam, we are being gifted with that very matchup, as the Williams sisters will meet in the quarterfinals of their home slam.

The match will add yet another dimension to the most conspicuous storyline at this year’s US Open: Serena’s quest for the calendar grand slam. Although Venus will undoubtedly want to win the match, it would be difficult for her to even contemplate acting as a barrier between Serena and history.

As for Serena, she’s been a mixed bag throughout this US Open. After gliding through her opener against Vitalia Diatchenko, Serena found tough opposition in the form of Kiki Bertens and Bethanie Mattek-Sands. The latter match was particularly concerning, as the combination of Mattek-Sands solid aggression and Serena’s sloppy errors left the world number one just two games from exiting the tournament. But as she so often does, Serena fought back to claim the victory with a third set bagel to set up a fourth round meeting with dangerous young American Madison Keys. And against Keys, Serena was absolutely scintillating. She finally managed to find a rhythm on her serve. She produced countless thunderous winners. And she ended the match with just SIX unforced errors. When she’s in that form, Serena is unplayable.

But if anyone is going to compete with the top-notch Serena, it’s the top-notch Venus who has graced the courts in Flushing Meadows this past week. Venus has had an equally turbulent run to the quarterfinal, dropping sets to Monica Puig and Irina Falconi. She compensated for her rough earlier matches, though, with a stunning straight-sets victory over no. 12 seed Belinda Bencic. She followed that with a very speedy win over qualifier Anett Kontaveit. In both matches, Venus was aggressive, clean and efficient – akin to her best from her years as a grand slam contender. Most of all, her serve was perfect, as she managed to hit all of her spots with incredible pace.

Serena leads the head-to-head 15-11, winning their last encounter in straight sets at Wimbledon this year. Remarkably, Venus claimed their last hard court encounter in Montreal last year, clinching a three-set victory over her sister. As for matchup of styles, they both play the same game – aggressive power tennis. Granted, Serena is faster across the court, and Venus perhaps tends to produce more powerful shots than her sister. But, it really is just a matter of who can better implement the Williams game.

At this point, it’s an exercise in futility to bet against Serena. Although Serena has said that Venus would be her preferred conqueror, should someone take out the number one, it’s hard to see Venus possessing the determination to actually do it. Like their match at Wimbledon, Serena will produce clean, smart tennis to take out her sister in two relatively tight sets. And even though we may not witness a nail biting encounter, we should still savour the meeting between the two sisters. Who knows how many we have left?

Prediction: Serena Williams in 2. 

Who Will Win: Serena Williams or Venus Williams?

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Kristina Mladenovic vs. Roberta Vinci

Who expected these two to reach the US Open quarterfinals? And on top of that, who expected one of these two women to be a US Open semifinalist?

Kristina Mladenovic managed to reach the first grand slam quarterfinal of her young career by taking out the likes of Svetlana Kuznetsova and Ekaterina Makarova. Mladenovic’s performance against Makarova in the fourth round was impressive, as she outhit and outmanoeuvred the Russian over three gruelling sets. And although Makarova faded towards the end of the match with a thigh injury, Mladenovic concluded the match with aplomb. In particular, her heavy groundstrokes and outstanding variety were on display as she ran away with the match.

Roberta Vinci, meanwhile, comes into her third US Open quarterfinal without having faced a player inside the top 75. Her journey has been relatively tumultuous, as she was taken to third set deciders in her second and third round matches. She will come into the quarterfinal fresh, having benefitted from Eugenie Bouchard’s withdrawal in the fourth round. Despite a recent downfall in the rankings, Vinci came into the US Open playing some of her best tennis, having reached the quarterfinal in Toronto. She also pushed Caroline Wozniacki in three VERY tight sets in New Haven.

This will mark the first meeting between Vinci and Mladenovic on tour, so its difficult to anticipate how this matchup will pan out. Vinci’s relentless use of her trademark backhand slice will surely agitate Mladenovic, who occasionally has a tendency to spray errors. As a now three-time quarterfinalist, the Italian also loves the courts in New York.

On the other hand, Mladenovic has a much more dominant game that, when executed properly, will almost always win out over Vinci’s awkward game. The fast US hard courts also lend themselves towards Mladenovic’s booming groundstrokes and first serve.

Although I can see either player emerging victorious, I’m going to go with Mladenovic on this one. There’s a chance that she could wilt under the bright spotlight on Arthur Ashe, but she will most likely use the confidence she gained from her encounter with Makarova, and her well-rounded game to claim the match in 2 sets.

Prediction: Kristina Mladenovic in 2.

Who Will Win: Kristina Mladenovic or Roberta Vinci?

Who do you think will reach the US Open semifinals? Will Serena Williams’ calendar grand slam hopes be dashed by sister, Venus? Let us know in the comments below!

Next: Power Ranking Serena Williams and the Top 25 Women Before the US Open

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