Tuesday, September 3, 2013

US Open Women's Quarterfinals Top Half Preview

The women's quarterfinals start on Tuesday with the top half of the draw in action, including Serena Williams and Na Li.

Serena Williams (1) vs. Carla Suarez Navarro (18)

Serena put in a dominant performance in the battle of master versus apprentice, as she ruthlessly disposed Sloane Stephens 6-4 6-1 in the fourth round. Serena won 84% of her first serve points, and was excellent moving forward - winning 69% of her points at net. The biggest fear for Suarez Navarro however is that Serena won 51% of points while receiving. The Spaniard won only 59% of her first serve points against Angelique Kerber, and while her baseline prowess might have been enough to overcome that deficiency against the eighth seed, Serena will relish being aggressive on the return. Saurez Navarro will contribute her fair share of beautiful backhand winners, but there isn't a single element of the game in which Serena isn't superior. The defending champion should win comfortably in straight sets.

Ekaterina Makarova (24) vs. Na Li (5)

Makarova put in a tremendous display to defeat Agnieszka Radwanska in the last round. The southpaw plays consistently, very rarely committing errors and when the opportunity presents itself is capable of hitting good winners especially with excellent volleys at net. Whether that solidity will be enough against Li is open to debate. Jelena Jankovic has even better defensive abilities than Makarova, yet Li disposed her 6-3 6-0. Coach Carlos Rodriguez has made Li a more aggressive player, and this was clearly on evidence during her fourth round demolition of Jankovic. 77% first serve points won, 83% net points won, 20 winners and a remarkable 100% conversion rate on break points speak of an all-round supremacy rarely seen in a big match. On current form, Li simply won't allow Makarova to work her way into strong positions to set up winning points. Its looking like Li is going to be Serena's toughest opponent before the final, and the fifth seed should book that enticing match-up with a comprehensive victory over Makarova.
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