(17) Ekaterina Makarova vs (16) Victoria Azarenka
Wednesday’s first quarter-final sees two-time finalist Victoria Azarenka take on Ekaterina Makarova for a spot in the semi-finals at Flushing Meadows. Makarova brings great form into this match, the Russian is yet to drop a set in her opening four matches and will be keen to cause an upset and reach her first Grand Slam semi-final.
Makarova has been knocked out at the quarter-final stage of a Grand Slam four times, including last years US Open. Makarova overcame her first real test of the fortnight when she upset seventh seed Eugenie Bouchard 7-6 6-4 in the fourth round. Makarova was able to step up and execute her game at the business end of each set whilst Bouchard succumbed to the brutal heat.
It's great to see Vika back competing at the business end of big events for the first time since the very start of the year in Australia. To avoid a massive drop down the rankings, Vika desperately needed to reach the second week in New York, now that Vika has reached the quarter-final stage she is a genuine contender to claim her first US Open title. If Azarenka can overcome Makarova, she will likely set up a mouthwatering re-match of last years final with 2 two time defending champion Serena Williams.
Victoria Azarenka has a 3-2 head to head record over Ekaterina Makarova. However, It was Makarova who won their most recent match, a 1-6 6-2 6-3 victory in Madrid last year. Azarenka had an infamous meltdown at 3-3 during the third set and was unable to regain her composure, losing three straight games.
Throughout the opening week at Flushing Meadows, Azarenka has reminded us all that she is the ultimate competitor. The Belarusian has twice looked down and out and on the verge of defeat, in her opening round match against Doi and her fourth round match against Krunic. Vika somehow found a way to turn things around on both occasions. This is a big occasion for Makarova; I suspect this will be a really close match. Vika will be able to draw on a wealth of experience on the big stage to race away with the match in the third set.
Prediction: Vika Azarenka to defeat Ekaterina Makarova in 3 sets