The two semifinals on deck for Thursday evening feature two very different match ups.
Two Semifinals and Two Very Different Matchups
Semifinal #1: Caroline Wozniacki vs Angelique Kerber
The first semifinal will feature Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark against Angelique Kerber of Germany. On paper this match puts the #74 ranked player Wozniacki against the current #2 player Kerber. But in reality this is a match between two top players. Wozniacki sat atop the WTA rankings for 49 consecutive weeks in 2010 and 2011 and reached the finals of the US Open in 2009 and 2014. Wozniacki’s fall in the rankings is the result of some early first round exits at The Australian Open and at Wimbledon this year, as well as missed tournaments due to injury. Wozniacki suffered an ankle injury in practice prior to the clay court season and then suffered an arm injury in Washington in July.
Kerber’s rise in the rankings is the result of winning the Australian Open to start the year and reaching the final at Wimbledon. Kerber is trying to usurp Serena Williams from the number one spot in the rankings and can do so if she wins this tournament or if Serena loses in the semifinals.
These two players have faced each other twelve times and Kerber leads with seven wins.
This has the makings of a great match that should feature some lengthy rallies as both players try to move each other around the court. Both these players are great retrievers and always make their opponents hit one more shot. Kerber has become known for her short angled shots that catch her opponents stranded behind the baseline.
Wozniacki, primarily known as an excellent defender, has put a little more aggression into her game and has been moving forward in the court when she sees an opportunity to close in.
In their previous matches both players had a high percentage of first serves in play (80% for Wozniacki and 76% for Kerber), although neither player is known for winning easy points with aces.
Both Wozniacki and Kerber have played big matches on big stages, but it is probably Kerber who is feeling the most pressure in this match. Win or lose Wozniacki’s ranking will receive a significant boost. Kerber, in contrast, had a chance to steal the number one ranking from Serena Williams had she won the tournament two weeks ago in Cincinnati. Appearing to wilt under the pressure, Kerber lost the title match in straight sets to Karolina Pliskova.
Semifinal #2: Serena Williams vs Karolina Pliskova
Pliskova hails from the Czech Republic and along with her twin sister is part of a number of Czech players nearing the top of the WTA rankings.
Pliskova has been steadily moving up those rankings with a game based on a powerful and accurate serve and strong groundstrokes to back it up. Pliskova is currently the WTA leader in aces with 407 this year as of the start of the US Open. What is also important is that Pliskova defeated Kerber in the final in Cincinnati two weeks ago and so she is playing with a lot of confidence. Venus Williams pushed Pliskova in the round of 16 in a thrilling three set match that was decided in a tiebreaker. In that tiebreaker Pliskova went after her shots showing no fear, and played with controlled aggression even when match point down.
In Serena Williams, Pliskova will be facing a player that plays a similar game style, only she plays it significantly better and with significantly more experience, especially in big matches. Ranked #1, Williams is trying to win a record 23rd major title as well as extend her reign atop the rankings. Prior to her match with Simona Halep on Wednesday, Williams had held serve 37 times, having not been broken in any of her previous matches. For Williams, facing Pliskova will provide a new challenge for her. Williams is not accustomed to opponents winning easy points with their serves and so she will need to focus on returning well or the match could be decided in tiebreakers.
So the two different matchups will showcase two very different game styles in women’s tennis.
The Kerber/Wozniacki match will feature long drawn out rallies that in the heat of the early evening will test the endurance and resolve of both these players.
The Pliskova/Williams match will feature first strike tennis. Points will be won on aces and shots set up by serves that pull the opponent off the court. Long rallies in this match will be those with more than six shots.
For the first match make yourself comfortable as you will be mesmerized for quite a while; for the second match, don’t leave your seat or you may miss the whole match.