Originally written on The Sports Headquarters  |  Last updated 11/14/14
2010_australian_open_2eb0

Maria Sharapova vs Victoria Azarenka:

If you wanted a blockbuster quarterfinal as soon as the draw was released, then this is the match you were looking for. Both of these women have been World #1 at some point this year. Both have won a Slam this year. And in what might be an important stat, neither has beaten Serena Williams yet this year (Sharapova is 0-2 and Azarenka 0-3). Both have been very good all year, though Azarenka has been more consistent and had fewer scares than Sharapova throughout the year.

And this tournament has been just like the entire year for each of these players. Sharapova has had tough matches against players she really should beat. Azarenka, meanwhile, has been nearly untouchable. It took an inspired 2 sets of play from defending champion Sam Stosur just to challenge Azarenka. Sharapova’s serve has also not been so consistent this tournament, but Azarenka’s has also been breakable this tournament.

This pair have met nine times in their careers, with Azarenka leading the head-to-head 5-4. The important stat here, however, is that Azarenka has won their last 4 meetings on hard courts. Sharapova last beat Azarenka on a hard court in Beijing in 2009. This match will come down to how well Azarenka can protect her serve. Sharapova will get broken several times, but she will also find her way into games and get close to positions to break from. If Azarenka can step up whenever Sharapova gets into one of her service games, she will win this match with ease.
Prediction: Azarenka in 2

Sara Errani vs Serena Williams

What a year this has been for Errani. She lost early at Wimbledon, where the grass surface really doesn’t suit her game. But she reached the quarterfinals at the Australian, the final at the French, and not she’s here in the semifinal at the US Open. Meanwhile, on the doubles side, she has won a Slam, reached a final and a quarterfinal, and is still alive here in the semifinals. Errani has won four singles titles this year and really looks to be only getting better. She has made her way into the top 10 and looks to be a mainstay there for a while if she can keep up this level.

Unfortunately for her, Errani is about to run into the immovable object that is Serena Williams right now. Errani has no way to counter or absorb Serena’s power. She just doesn’t. And she doesn’t have the power or strong enough defense to force Serena back behind the baseline. Errani just doesn’t have any way to hurt or even control points against Serena. If Serena’s level falls off a bit then maybe Errani can do something to take advantage of it. But with the way things stand right now, Errani doesn’t have a chance.
Prediction: Williams in 2

To see my preview for the last two men’s quarterfinal matches, please click here.


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