2011 US Open – Nick’s Picks – Women’s Singles Quarterfinals
Sam Stosur (AUS) vs. Vera Zvonareva (RUS)
We need to start calling Stosur the marathon woman! Two days after winning the longest match in US Open history she played the longest tie-break in Grand Slam history in her fourth round win over Maria Kirilenko. This is her second straight appearance in the quarters of the US Open and she is looking to reach the semis for the first time.
It was going to take a great performance to stop Sabine Lisicki, and that was exactly what Zvonareva did in her fourth round win over the young German. Zvonareva beat Lisicki in straight sets to reach the quarters for the second year in a row. Remember, last year she was the runner-up so you know she wants this title badly!
Stosur is 7-2 against Zvonareva and has beaten her twice already this year (Stuttgart and Eastbourne). This is going to be a really interesting match because you have two girls who have worked so incredibly hard to get to where they are today. Stosur had to fight off injuries and illness and Zvonareva has had injuries and she has also overcome the mental obstacles that used to be in her way. You can really see what a difference that has made in her game.
Stosur has played some long matches in the last two rounds and even though she is a physical specimen, that would take a toll on anyone. She may get helped out if there is a rain delay, but you can’t count on that. She has had success against Zvonareva in the past by hitting the ball with heavy, heavy spin, which takes Zvonareva out of her comfort zone. If she is able to do that again, she will have the advantage. If Zvonareva is able to catch the ball early and hit it in her bread basket (down by her knees) and move Stosur around, then she will have the advantage. Both girls are playing excellent tennis, and this match could really go either way, but I have to give a slight edge to Zvonareva based on their rankings.
Nick’s Pick – Zvonareva in 3 sets
Angelique Kerber (GER) vs. Flavia Pennetta (ITA)
Kerber is the lowest ranked player left in the draw (#92) and this is her first appearance in the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam. The 23-year old German was one of three German women to have reached the fourth round, joining Andrea Petkovic and Sabine Lisicki.
Pennetta fought off exhaustion, nausea and a very tough opponent in Peng Shuai to reach the quarters of the US Open for the third time in her career. She clearly loves playing in the Big Apple and she has never been past the fourth round in any other Grand Slam.
Pennetta is 1-0 against Kerber and that win came earlier this year on clay in Bastad. Kerber is a powerful lefty who has a solid two-handed backhand and a very good forehand. It is certainly a surprise to see her in the quarters, but now that she is here anything can happen. The hot, sticky weather was getting to Pennetta in her match against Peng, but I was happy to see her get through. She is very consistent from the baseline, she has great groundstrokes and she moves very well. She should be able to control the points against Kerber and having been on this big stage before, that should give her an advantage. I look for Pennetta to win.
Nick’s Pick – Pennetta in 2 sets
Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) vs. Andrea Petkovic (GER)
Despite being down a set and 4-1 to Kuznetsova, never once did Wozniacki look like she was going to lose. She just getting grinding away and battling back and she was just more fit that Kuznetsova and that was the difference in the match. This is her third straight appearance in the quarters of the US Open and she is getting closer to winning her first major and validating that #1 ranking.
Petkovic is making her first appearance in the quarters of the US Open and it is her third Grand Slam quarterfinal in 2011. A win here would put her in the semis for the first time in her career. She has only dropped one set in the tournament and that came in the second round, so she is playing excellent tennis.
These two have met twice before and each has won once. Both of those matches have taken place this year. Petkovic won in three sets in Miami and Wozniacki won in straight sets in Stuttgart. Petkovic has worked extremely hard to get where she is today. She started playing tennis at a very young age and has fought through terrible injuries to reach this point. She never once thought about giving up and it is this mentality that has taken her to the top. She plays an extremely aggressive style of tennis and has a HUGE forehand and big serve. She moves well and she will try and keep Wozniacki pushed way back behind the baseline.
On the other side, Wozniacki should be full of confidence after that great win over Kuznetsova. I was so happy to see her get through and she proved, once again, that she can trade blows with the best. To win this match, she needs to keep Petkovic off-balance and move her all around the court. She cannot let Petkovic settle in and use her powerful groundstrokes to gain control the points. I have to give a slight edge to Wozniacki based on the way she was able to come back against Kuznetsova, but this is going to be close!
Nick’s Pick – Wozniacki in 3 sets
Serena Williams (USA) vs. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS)
Serena jumped out to an early lead against Ivanovic and never looked back, winning 6-3, 6-4. She is playing some of the best tennis that I have ever seen from her and there is no doubt that she is the favorite to win the tournament. The only thing that can stop Serena is herself!
Pavlyuchenkova picked up a hard-fought win over Francesca Schiavone to reach the quarters of the US Open for the first time in her career. This is only her second Grand Slam quarterfinal and it is going to be quite a test!
These two have met once before, at the 2010 French Open and Serena won that in three sets. Pavlyuchenkova is an extremely talented youngster, who at 20 years old, has top-ten written all over her, but this match sits squarely on Serena Williams’ racket. Pavlyuchenkova has the power to battle Serena, but she doesn’t move as well and she doesn’t get as much from her serve. Serena has been jumping all over her opponent’s second serves and that has made a huge difference for her in her wins as it puts a ton of pressure on her opponents to get their first serves in play. She isn’t making very many errors and when she plays like this, there is no one on the women’s side that can beat her.
Nick’s Pick – S. Williams in 2 sets