Sunday, September 1, 2013

US Open Women's Round of 16 Bottom Half preview

With four places in the quarterfinals up for grabs, the bottom half of the women's draw complete the round of 16 on Labour Day.

Camila Giorgi vs. Roberta Vinci (10)

A match between two Italian counterparts. While Vinci has been consistent since the middle of last season, Giorgi has been a revelation during the first week. Seeded 26 in the qualifiers for the US Open, the 21-year old put in the performance of her life in beating Caroline Wozniaki in the last round. Giorgi hit winners off both wings, and was extremely aggressive. It is generally difficult for a qualifier to maintain the same standard to follow up an upset, and now that she is in the spotlight, she might not play with the same carefree approach either. Vinci's greater experience and tactical variety should see her through, while her excellent touch at net will not allow Giorgi to dominate from the baseline. Giorgi's time will come, but for now Vinci will seal her place in the quarterfinals of the US Open for the second straight year.

Simona Halep (21) vs. Flavia Pennetta

This is potentially an excellent match-up that will fly under the radar. Halep has been one of the form players this year, and she has maintained her consistency at Flushing Meadows. The Romanian is adept at moving her opponents around, and significantly doesn't delay coming forward to finish points when the opportunity presents itself. Flavia Pennetta loves playing in New York, and the three-time quarterfinalist has been in fine fettle this year. On closer introspection, Pennetta's game isn't that different from Halep's, and this match has the potential to go three sets. The Italian has the edge on experience, however Halep has a stronger serve and that just might make the difference during the big moments.

Alison Riske vs. Daniela Hantuchova

Riske is the feel good story on the women's side, reaching the round of 16 after obtaining a wildcard to enter the main draw. Her dismantling of Petra Kvitova in the last round had many questioning if the roles of grand slam champion and wildcard had been reversed. After a decent run to the third round of Wimbledon, I wasn't expecting to hear much of Riske for the rest of the year. However, the American has confounded many critics, and she certainly has a shot against the Slovakian Hantuchova, who while possessing the greater experience, can falter in the face of the crowd's raucous support for the home favourite and underdog. Riske has the bigger shots, and against an opponent who suffered a physically exhausting three-setter in the last round, it might be enough to progress and seal a dream quarterfinal appearance.

Ana Ivanovic (13) vs. Victoria Azarenka (2)

A match between two former world number one's, though of course Azarenka is still in the equation to regain that ranking, while Ivanovic is trying her best to crack the top ten again. Both players also struggled in the last round before prevailing in three sets. Azarenka stepped up her game considerably after losing the first set against Alize Cornet, but Ivanovic was lucky to escape after Christina McHale served for the match in the second set. Ivanovic was guilty of being too passive against McHale, and she will be inviting trouble against Azarenka if she persists with the same approach. To stay competitive, Ivanovic's best bet would be to redirect Azarenka's fearsome baseline shots diagonally, but even then it's hard to see Azarenka struggle too much unless she commits a barrage of errors. The world number two should win and get her bid for the US Open back on track after a stumble in the third round.
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