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2014 US Open: Semi-finals preview and predictions

Jai Prakash
SENIOR ANALYST
Modified 05 Sep 2014

We have reached the business end of the tournament with only four players remaining in both the men’s and the women’s section of the draw. There were a lot of upsets in the women’s segment with a number of top seeds departing within the first week. Familiar names in the men’s draw made it to the fourth round and beyond. 

Plenty of action is promised over the next four days as players battle it out to make it to the finals. We look at what can be expected in the four matches and who looks in a stronger position to go all the way.

Women’s semifinals

#1 Shuai Peng Vs Caroline Wozniacki

Shuai Peng Vs Caroline Wozniacki

It is a tale of two comeback players with Peng locking horns with Wozniacki in the first of the two semifinals. Wozniacki was the No. 1 player in the world not that long ago, but she hasn’t been consistent enough to warrant a place in the top 5. She finished runner-up to Kim Clijsters in 2009 and this is her best run at the US Open since then. 

Peng on the other hand had never progressed beyond the fourth round at a Grand Slam before, but has looked in imperious form at the Open winning all her matches without dropping a set.

The Chinese No. 3 beat the likes of Agnieszka Radwanska, Roberta Vinci and Lucie Safarova, before getting rid of 17-year old Belinda Bencic in just over an hour. 

Wozniacki showed her fighting spirit against Maria Sharapova as she came through a tough three setter. She had an easy outing against Sara Errani in the quarterfinals losing just one game. Peng is exceptional at the nets having played a lot of doubles. She will look to take her opponents wide with her flat strokes and hitting those short returns with ease. 

Wozniacki would try to counter that with her powerful backhand passes and reaching the net more often than not. The Dane leads the head-to-head matchup 5-1 with Peng’s last victory coming at the 2007 Canadian Masters.

Prediction: Caroline Wozniacki in 3 sets.

#2 Serena Williams Vs Ekaterina Makarova

Serena Williams Vs Ekaterina Makarova

Overwhelming favorite Serena Williams heads into her match against Ekaterina Makarova, who is making her debut in a Grand Slam semifinal. However, the Russian has not lost a single set so far and took out Eugenie Bouchard and Victoria Azarenka in the last two rounds.

Serena hasn’t been challenged thus far as she aims to win her 6th US Open title. The American has been ruthless in all her matches with magnificent serving and the Russian will have to play extraordinary tennis to make inroads into Serena’s game. 

Makarova has already beaten Serena in the Women’s doubles earlier in the week and that match might help her to find rhythm against the big serving American. The two have faced each other on 3 occasions with Serena leading their rivalry 2-1.

Prediction: Serena Williams in straight sets.

Men’s semifinals

# 1 Novak Djokovic Vs Kei Nishikori

Novak Djokovic Vs Kei Nishikori

Kei Nishikori is coming into the last four after winning two five setters against Milos Raonic and Stanislas Wawrinka. Can he compete at his best against No. 1 seed Novak Djokovic after spending more than 8 and a half hours on court in his last two matches?

The Japanese player has been plagued with injuries in recent times. Djokovic got a walkover earlier this year at the Miami Masters and Nishikori retired after leading by a set and 4-3 in the second set in the Madrid final against Rafael Nadal. Djokovic and Nishikori are tied 1-1 in the two completed matches.

The No. 1 player in the world has looked in prime form and has dropped just one set in the tournament. He is aiming to reach his fifth consecutive US Open final having won it in 2011.  It will be interesting to see how Nishikori shapes up against the Serb as Djokovic will show no mercy on his Japanese opponent.

Prediction: Novak Djokovic in 4 sets.

#2 Roger Federer Vs Marin Cilic

Roger Federer Vs Marin Cilic

Marin Cilic put up a serving clinic against Tomas Berdych in the quarterfinals as he brushed aside the Czech in straight sets. The Croat won 84 percent on his first serves, hit 19 aces with an average first serve speed of 119 mph. 

Cilic is appearing in only his second Grand Slam semifinal after reaching the last four at the 2010 Australian Open. He came through a stern test by Gilles Simon in the fourth round by prevailing in five sets, and his serve will be his biggest weapon against the 17-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer.

Federer had a relatively easy passage to the quarterfinals and was troubled by Gael Monfils in the last eight. The Swiss ace battled back from two sets down to reach another semifinal in New York. Federer is two matches away from winning his 18th major and will head into the semifinal with a 5-0 lead over the Croat. The two last met in the Toronto Masters a couple of weeks ago with Federer coming out on top in three sets. Cilic and Federer also faced off in the 2011 US Open, which the Swiss won in four sets.

Much has changed since then with Cilic showing massive improvement in his game and his serve will play a vital role in the semifinals. Federer has struggled in the deep stages of a slam in the recent past despite reaching Wimbledon finals earlier this year. The Croat will be his first biggest test this fortnight and if Cilic plays anywhere close to the way he did against Berdych, Federer will find it difficult to make it to another final in New York.

Prediction: Marin Cilic in 5 sets.

Published 05 Sep 2014
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