Semi-Final #1 - (1) Serena Williams vs (8) Andrea Petkovic
Serena Williams scrapped into the semi-finals courtesy of a 2-6 6-3 7-5 victory over Ana Ivanovic. The Serb blew Williams of the court in the opening set but was soon struck down by an injury to her hip. Ivanovic’s level dropped dramatically in the final two sets, nevertheless she kept fighting and almost caused an almighty upset. Serena’s serve wasn't the weapon we are used to seeing, however it did come to her rescue right at the end of the match. Serena was extremely relieved after the match, it seemed like a very draining match. The American world number 1 will have to make a quick recovery to be ready for this match; the schedule has done her no favors.
Much of Andrea Petkovic’s success this year has come on clay, so she will be excited about the run she is having in Stanford. The German battled past Venus Williams in three topsy-turvy sets, 6-1 3-6 7-5. Venus was all over the place in the opening set, she struggled to keep the ball in play. The American turned things around incredibly, she raised her level in the second set and took all the momentum into the third. After failing to serve out the match at 5-3, Petkovic held to love in the eleventh game before breaking Venus to progress to the semi-finals.
Serena Williams has a perfect record against the German; she has won all three of their previous encounters. Their most recent encounter took place earlier this year in Rome, a comfortable 6-2 6-2 victory for Serena. I expect Andrea to be much more competitive on this occasion. Serena seems to be as vulnerable as ever, her opponents seem to step onto court genuinely believing they can defeat the world number 1. Nevertheless, Serena should be too strong for Andrea
Prediction: Serena Williams to defeat Andrea Petkovic in straight sets
Semi-Final #2 – (4) Angelique Kerber vs Varvara Lepchenko
Angelique Kerber dismantled Garbine Muguruza on Friday to reach the semi-finals at the Bank of the West Classic. The 6-2 6-1 victory was a much-improved performance from the German who struggled in her opening match against Coco Vandeweghe. In recent months, Kerber has shown that at her best she is very hard to overcome. Her ability to fight for every single point is second to none. Having not won a title this season despite already reaching three finals the German will be desperate to claim her first title in Stanford.
Varvara Lepchenko also had a comfortable quarter-final victory. Lepchenko defeated qualifier and compatriot Sachia Vickery 6-1 6-0 to set up a semi-final clash with fellow leftie Angelique Kerber. Lepchenko produced one of the upsets of the tournament in the second round when she defeated 2013 finalist Agnieszka Radwanska in three sets. This will be Lepchenko’s first semi-final since Soul 2012, she will fancy her chances against an opponent she has beaten several times in the past.
Varvara Lepchenko defeated Angelique Kerber in their first four encounters. All of these wins came before the German’s breakthrough 2012 season. Since then Kerber has defeated Lepchenko twice, the most recent of which was a 6-2 7-5 at Roland Garros. Angie is in great form at the moment, she cannot afford to lose this match and I don’t think she will.
Prediction: Angelique Kerber to defeat Varvara Lepchenko in straight sets