Marketa Vondrousova vs. Polona Hercog, Rome R3 Preview

Internazionali BNL d’Italia, Rome R3 preview + prediction
🇨🇿 (12) Marketa Vondrousova vs. 🇸🇮 Polona Hercog

The final quarter-final spot at the 2020 Internazionali BNL d’Italia will be determined when the 12th seeded Marketa Vondrousova takes on Slovenia’s Polona Hercog. This will be the first career meeting between the pair on a surface that traditionally brings out the best of both players.

Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic in action during her second-round match at the 2020 Internazionali BNL d’Italia WTA Premier 5 tennis tournament

Vondrousova has finally won back-to-back main draw matches for the first time since Adelaide in January. The 2019 Roland Garros runner-up came through a roller-coaster opening round match where she defeated Misaki Doi 6-1 4-6 6-4. The 21-year-old claimed a more commanding victory in the second round as she eased past Arantxa Rus 6-3 6-3.

It was during last season’s European clay court swing that Vondrousova took her game to another level, winning the title in Istanbul, reaching the quarter-finals in Rome and then making it all the way to the final in Paris without dropping a set. Things haven’t been great since then for rising star, but perhaps this is the week that her fortunes will finally turn.

Polona Hercog is playing in her fourth clay court event since the tour restart, the 29-year-old is playing some decent tennis having reached the quarter-finals in Istanbul last week. Hercog started her Rome campaign with a 4-6 6-4 6-1 win over Kaja Juvan before upsetting the 5th seeded Kiki Bertens 6-4 6-4.

I’m going to side with Vondrousova here. Hercog is a powerful player on clay but Vondrousova moves better than just about anyone on this surface which will negate the strengths of Hercog. Hercog is also the type of player that relies on winning a high percentage of her service games, this will be problematic against one of the better returns of serve on tour. Vondrousova’s lefty pattern of play also plays nicely into the weaker Hercog backhand side, Vondrousova also has the power and versatility to expose the movement of Hercog. A seemingly good match-up for Vondrousova on a heavy clay court.

Prediction: Marketa Vondrousova to defeat Polona Hercog in 2 sets

Simona Halep vs. Dayana Yastremska, Rome R3 Preview

Internazionali BNL d’Italia, Rome R3 preview + prediction
🇷🇴 (1) Simona Halep vs. 🇺🇦 Dayana Yastremska

Simona Halep continues her 2020 Internazionali BNL d’Italia campaign on Friday with a potentially dangerous third round clash against Dayana Yastremska. This will be the first career meeting between the pair, a match-up of contrasting styles, can the flashy Ukrainian get the better of the 2-time runner-up in Rome?

Simona Halep is on a 10-match winning streak. The world number 2 won the premier-level title in Dubai just before the tour shutdown and won the Prague Open in her return to action last month. The reigning Wimbledon champion made a solid start in Rome with a 6-3 6-4 win over Jasmine Paolini having received a bye in the opening round. Halep is the top seed and favourite to go on to win the title in Rome this week.

Halep has surprisingly never won the Internazionali BNL d’Italia and will be keen to change that over the coming days. Halep twice reached the championship match in Rome, in 2017 and 2018, on both occasions she was defeated by Elina Svitolina. Halep has also reached the semi-finals in Rome on a couple of other occasions, in 2013 and 2015.

Dayana Yastremska has come through a pair of roller-coaster matches to reach the third round in Rome. A 7-5 6-7 6-4 win over Camila Giorgi was followed by a 4-6 7-6 6-4 win over Amanda Anisimova. Yastremska has already been involved 6 tight three 3 matches in her 4 tournaments since the tour restart.

I expect Halep to come through this one quite comfortably. Yastremska is dangerous but far too inconsistent to have much of a hope against Halep on a clay court. Yastremska’s level has swung wildly in recent times, from match-to-match and within matches, a far more consistent effort is required against Halep. The Romanian is one a select few players on the WTA tour that consistently achieves great results on clay. Expect the far superior consistency, discipline and stamina of Halep to see her through this one.

Prediction: Simona Halep to defeat Dayana Yastremska in 2 sets

Serena Williams vs. Victoria Azarenka, US Open SF Preview

2020 US OPEN – SF #2 preview + prediction: 🍎🗽
🇺🇸 (3) Serena Williams vs. 🇧🇾 Victoria Azarenka

Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka will renew hostilities when they go head-to-head

for the 23rd time with a spot in the 2020 US Open championship match up for grabs. Williams and Azarenka have played out some epic matches at Flushing Meadows in the past, including a pair of memorable finals in 2012 and 2013, this has the makings for another fiercely contested battle.

Serena Williams is just 2 wins away from finally lifting Grand Slam title number 24 after a 3 and a half year wait. Williams wants this badly, she has for a while, she usually gets what she wants. It hasn’t been an easy pathway for Williams to get to this stage, Williams started the event with a pair of straight set wins over Kristie Ahn and Margarita Gasparyan. The 6-time former champion has required 3 consecutive 3 set wins to advance to the semi-finals, a 2-6 6-2 6-2 win over the 26th seeded Sloane Stephens, a 6-3 6-7 6-3 win over the 15th seeded Maria Sakkari and a 4-6 6-3 6-2 win over Tsvetana Pironkova.

Victoria Azarenka is on a 10 match winning streak having won the Western & Southern Open right before the US Open commenced. Azarenka’s run at Flushing Meadows has been far more straightforward, the unseeded Azarenka cruised through the first week with straight set wins over Barbara Haas, the 5th seeded Aryna Sabalenka and Iga Swiatek. Azarenka’s toughest challenge came in the fourth round where she just edged past the 20th seeded Karolina Muchova 5-7 6-1 6-4. Azarenka stormed into her first major semi-final since the 2013 US Open with a 6-1 6-0 thrashing of the 15th seeded Elise Mertens.

Williams holds a dominant 18-4 head-to-head record over Azarenka. Williams has won all 10 of their previous meetings at a Grand Slam and all 3 of their previous meetings at the US Open. The most recent match between the pair took place at Indian Wells last year, Williams won 7-5 6-3.

There is no doubt that Azarenka has been able to push Williams like few have, however Williams has still dominated Azarenka, there have been many epic matches between the two, but Williams almost always wins, especially in critical matches. The reason? Azarenka’s weak serve get the treatment under pressure. Serena’s consistently strong and aggressive returns of serve have always been Azarenka’s undoing in this match-up. Azarenka’s serve is as vulnerable as ever, Williams still has the power, this should mean a Williams victory. Williams has been fighting for a major title for a few years without success, I don’t see her stumbling here against an opponent she knows how to handle.

Prediction: Serena Williams to defeat Victoria Azarenka in 2 sets

Naomi Osaka vs. Jennifer Brady, US Open SF Preview

2020 US OPEN – SF #1 preview + prediction: 🍎🗽
🇯🇵 (4) Naomi Osaka vs. 🇺🇸 (28) Jennifer Brady

A blockbuster match-up between 2018 champion Naomi Osaka and a red-hot Jennifer Brady will decide the first entrant into the 2020 US Open final. Jennifer Brady has been the most dominant player in the field, not even coming close to dropping a set, the American will face her biggest test of the event thus far against Osaka.

Jennifer Brady is through to her first Grand Slam semi-final thanks to an emphatic stretch of victories. Brady hasn’t dropped more than 4 games in a single set, the 25-year-old has averaged just 2.4 games against per set this tournament. Brady cruised through the first week with wins over Anna Blinkova, Cici Bellis and Caroline Garcia. Brady eliminated former champion Angelique Kerber in the fourth round with a 6-1 6-4 victory before securing her spot in the final 4 with a 6-3 6-2 win over Yulia Putintseva.

Naomi Osaka has built her way into ominous form heading into the business end of the event. Osaka wasn’t always convincing through the first week where she needed 3 sets to get past Misaki Doi and Marta Kostyuk, a straight set win over Camila Giorgi was sandwiched between those struggles. Osaka’s last few performances have been far more convincing, a 6-3 6-4 win over Anett Kontaveit and a 6-3 6-4 win over Shelby Rogers.

It was Osaka who won the only previous match between the pair, a 6-4 6-4 victory with on the green clay of Charleston in 2018.

This promises to be a close match between a pair of powerful and confident players. Both have the weapons to control their service games more often than not, small margins should decide this one. I’ll give the slight edge to Brady, it is Brady who has been the more consistent of the two of the whole tournament and it is Brady who has more variety in her game, which could be key in such a close match-up.

Prediction: Jennifer Brady to defeat Naomi Osaka in 3 sets
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Elise Mertens vs. Victoria Azarenka, US Open QF Preview

2020 US OPEN – QF preview + prediction: 🍎🗽
🇧🇪 (16) Elise Mertens vs. 🇧🇾 Victoria Azarenka

Wednesday’s second quarter-final from the 2020 US Open sees the 16th seeded Elise Mertens come up against 2-time former finalist Victoria Azarenka. This will be the first career meeting between Mertens and Azarenka, an exciting match-up between a pair of red-hot opponents.

Elise Mertens has stormed into a second consecutive quarter-final at the US Open without dropping a single set. Mertens moved through the first week with wins over 3 unseeded opponents, a 6-2 6-2 win over Laura Siegemund, a 6-3 7-5 victory over Sara Sorribes Tormo, followed by a 7-5 6-1 triumph over Caty McNally. Mertens produced her most impressive performance in the fourth round where she totally outplayed the 2nd seeded Sofia Kenin to record a 6-3 6-3 victory, perhaps the best anyone has played all tournament.

Victoria Azarenka is the form player on tour, the former world number 1 is on a 9-match winning streak having won the Western & Southern Open last week. Azarenka also moved through the first week of the tournament with ease, defeating Barbara Haas 6-1 6-2, the 5th seeded Aryna Sabalenka 6-1 6-3 and Iga Swiatek 6-4 6-2. Azarenka’s biggest test came at the fourth round stage where she snuck past the 20th seeded Karolina Muchova 5-7 6-1 6-4, Azarenka was initially outplayed until Muchova became injured.

I’m going to side with Mertens here. Mertens was extremely impressive in her win over Kenin and will get the job done with a similar level in this match-up. Azarenka is on a roll but there are holes in her game, most notably her serve. Mertens has a strong return of serve and should take advantage of Azarenka’s weak serve. Mertens can match Azarenka from the back of the court, I don’t think Azarenka can consistently hit through Mertens and I would favour Mertens to outlast Azarenka in a baseline battle.

Prediction: Elise Mertens to defeat Victoria Azarenka in 2 sets

Serena Williams vs. Tsvetana Pironkova, US Open QF Preview

2020 US OPEN – QF preview + prediction: 🍎🗽
🇺🇸 (3) Serena Williams vs. 🇧🇬 Tsvetana Pironkova

Serena Williams continues her quest for a 24th major title when she comes up against Tsvetana Pironkova in an unlikely quarter-final match-up at Flushing Meadows on day 9 of the 2020 US Open. Williams holds an unbeaten record over Pironkova and comes into this clash as a huge favourite, can the Bulgarian cause another big upset and keep her fairy-tale run alive?

Serena Williams is through to her 53rd Grand Slam quarter-final. Williams hasn’t won a major title since the 2017 Australian Open, something she will be desperate to change over the next week. Williams moved through her first few matches of the tournament easily enough, a 7-5 6-3 win over Kristie Ahn was followed by a 6-2 6-4 victory over Margarita Gasparyan. The 38-year-old overcame a couple of stern tests to book her spot in the final 8, a 2-6 6-2 6-2 win over the 26th seeded Sloane Stephens came before a hard-fought 6-3 6-7 6-3 victory over the 15th seeded Maria Sakkari. Williams will be competing in her 17th quarter-final at the US Open on Wednesday.

Tsvetana Pironkova is having an unbelievable week in New York. The unranked Bulgarian arrived in New York having not played a tournament for 3 years, in that time Pironkova gave birth and started her own business. Now the 32-year-old suddenly finds herself in her fourth major quarter-final, her first at the US Open. Pironkova moved through the first week of the tournament without dropping a set, a 6-2 6-3 win over Ludmilla Samsonova was followed by a pair of big upset wins. Pironkova defeated the 10th seeded Garbine Muguruza 7-5 6-3 before eliminating the 18th seeded Donna Vekic with a 6-4 6-1 victory. Pironkova booked her spot in the final 8 in New York with an extremely hard-fought 6-4 6-7 6-3 win over Alize Cornet.

Williams holds a perfect 4-0 head-to-head record over Pironkova. Williams won both of their previous hard court meetings in straight sets, including a 7-5 6-3 victory in their most recent clash which took place at the Western & Southern Open in 2015.

Pironkova has been brave but this is where her miracle run comes to an end. Williams is getting sharper and sharper as the tournament goes on, Pironkova is highly unlikely to match the physicality of Williams at this stage of a major tournament. Pironkova is at her best when she is able to dictate from the baseline with her strong backhand, Williams won’t allow this, Williams is too powerful. The strong serve and return of serve of Williams will mean Pironkova won’t get a chance to play her game, this spells trouble for Pironkova who is surely running out of gas coming into her 5th match of her first tournament in 3 years, Pironkova won’t be a threat defensively. Expect Williams to overpower Pironkova quite easily in this one.

Prediction: Serena Williams to defeat Tsvetana Pironkova in 2 sets
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Naomi Osaka vs. Anett Kontaveit, US Open R4 Preview

2020 US OPEN – R4 preview + prediction: ??
?? (4) Naomi Osaka vs. ?? (14) Anett Kontaveit

Naomi Osaka continues her quest for a third major title on Sunday with a tricky fourth round match-up with the 14th seeded Anett Kontaveit. This will be a rematch of the Western & Southern Open quarter-final match-up from a few week ago where Osaka just edged past the Estonian in a tight 3 set contest. Can an in-form Kontaveit flip the script at Flushing Meadows?

Naomi Osaka is through to the second week at the US Open for the third consecutive year. The 2018 US Open champion has come through a couple of tough battles on route to the fourth round. The 4th seed laboured through her opening round clash where she defeated Misaki Doi 6/2 5/7 6/2. Osaka produced a far more clinical performance in the second round where she defeated Camila Giorgi 6/1 6/2. The former world number 1 was again forced to dig deep in the third round where she outlasted Marta Kostyuk 6/3 6/7 6/2. A tough opening week for Osaka.

Anett Kontaveit also overcame an opening round scare at Flushing Meadows. Kontaveit rallied to defeat Danielle Collins 5/7 6/2 6/2 in the opening round before cruising past Kaja Juvan 6/4 6/1. The 14th seed secured her spot in the fourth round at the US Open for the first time since 2015 with an easy 6/3 6/2 win over Magda Linette. Kontaveit broke new grounds at the Australian Open earlier this year when she reached her first major quarter-final and will be looking to go even further in New York.

Naomi Osaka has won all 4 of the previous meetings between the pair. Kontaveit was close to beating Osaka in their most recent match, Osaka won from a set and a break down, a 4/6 6/2 7/5 win at the Western & Southern Open a few weeks ago.

I’m going to side with Osaka here. The 4-0 head-to-head record for Osaka says a lot, granted their match a few weeks ago was a close one, but it also showed that Osaka can overcome Kontaveit without playing her best on this surface. Expect Osaka to raise her level for this clash, it is Osaka who has proven that she raises her level at this stage of major events, whilst Kontaveit tends to go back into her shell, especially under pressure. Osaka has the greater power and consistency and should get the job done here.

Prediction: Naomi Osaka to defeat Anett Kontaveit in 2 sets
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Petra Martic vs. Yulia Putintseva, US Open R4 Preview

2020 US OPEN – R4 preview + prediction: ??
?? (8) Petra Martic vs. ?? (23) Yulia Putintseva

Petra Martic and Yulia Putintseva will both be playing to reach the quarter-final stage at the US Open for the very first time when they do battle in a crucial fourth round match at Flushing Meadows on Sunday. Martic and Putintseva are both former quarter-finalists at Roland Garros, both know what it takes at this level, expect a tight match between these two, who will come out on top on the first career meeting between the pair?

Petra Martic is through to the fourth round stage at the US Open for the second year in a row. The 8th seed survived a scare in the opening round when she stumbled past Tereza Martincova 5/7 6/2 6/4. Martic’s last couple of matches have been less complicated against favourable opponents, a 6/3 6/4 win over Kateryna Bondarenko, followed by a 6/3 6/3 victory against Varvara Gracheva. The draw has opened up for Martic and she has been good enough to take advantage, can she keep her run going?

Yulia Putintseva is through to the fourth round at the US Open for the first time, her first appearance in the second week of a major outside of Roland Garros. The 23rd seed started the event with a 6/1 6/3 win over Robin Montgomery, followed by a 6/3 6/3 victory against Vera Lapko. Putintseva has also had a favourable draw, the Kazakh secured her spot in the fourth round with a 3/6 6/2 6/1 win over Aliaksandra Sasnovich. A mature performance from Putintseva over the first week.

This is a match-up that features a lot of variety, the great strength for both Martic and Putintseva is variety, this will make for an interesting clash as they go head-to-head for the first time. I’ll side with Putintseva here. I prefer Martic in a match-up against a bigger hitter, she will need to generate her own pace in this match-up, she will need to make the plays instead of disrupting her opponent and may be frustrated by the defensive skills of Putintseva who isn’t usually too bothered by slice or drop shots. Putintseva always raises her level on the big stage, expect the Kazakh’s superior movement, stamina and flare to see her through this one.

Prediction: Yulia Putintseva to defeat Petra Martic in 3 sets
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Angelique Kerber vs. Jennifer Brady, US Open R4 Preview

2020 US OPEN – R4 preview + prediction: ??
?? (17) Angelique Kerber vs. ?? (28) Jennifer Brady

Angelique Kerber and Jennifer Brady will do battle for the first time with a spot in the US Open quarter-finals up for grabs. Kerber and Brady both stormed through the first week at Flushing Meadows without dropping a set and this encounter full of confidence. Who will prevail?

Angelique Kerber is through to the fourth round at the US Open for the first time since she won the event in 2016. The former world number 1 started her 202 US Open campaign with a 6/4 6/4 win over Ajla Tomljanovic, followed by a 6/3 7/6 victory over Anna-Lena Friedsam. Kerber sealed her spot in the final 16 thanks to a 6/3 6/4 triumph over Ann Li. It has been a surprisingly strong start to the event for Kerber who arrived in New York having not played a match since January.

Jennifer Brady is through to the fourth round at the US Open for the second time in her career. The American will be aiming to reach the quarter-finals at a major for the first time in her career. Brady entered this year’s US Open in career best form having won her first WTA Title in Lexington last month. Brady has been cruising through the draw in New York. The 25-year-old started the week with a 6/3 6/2 win over Anna Blinkova before smashing Cici Bellis 6/1 6/2. Brady booked her spot in the fourth round with a composed 6/3 6/3 win over Caroline Garcia, Brady didn’t drop serve in her win over the Frenchwoman.

I’m going to give the slight edge to Kerber in this match-up. It’s rare to have a first time match-up at this stage of a major tournament so it will be interesting to see how this one unfolds. Kerber is the proven champion and that counts for a lot heading into a big match on the biggest stage. Kerber’s counter-punching strengths should see her come through this match-up. Brady has a powerful game but it’s probably not powerful enough to consistently hit through Kerber, Kerber thrives on pace and will make life tough for Brady. Brady is also unlikely to outlast Kerber in a baseline scrap, Kerber has better movement and is more consistent. Experience and match-up seemingly favour Kerber.

Prediction: Angelique Kerber to defeat Jennifer Brady in 3 sets
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Madison Keys vs. Alize Cornet, US Open R3 Preview

2020 US OPEN – R3 preview + prediction: ??
?? (7) Madison Keys vs. ?? Alize Cornet

A third round match-up at Flushing Meadows featuring a huge contrast in styles sees the 7th seeded Madison Keys take on Alize Cornet. Keys has surprisingly beaten Cornet in all 3 of their previous meetings, despite the Frenchwoman having the weapons in her game to make life uncomfortable for Keys, Cornet has been in good form of late and will fancy her chances of causing an upset.

Madison Keys will be aiming to reach the second week at the US Open for the 6th consecutive year. The 2017 runner-up has cruised through her first couple of matches without really being tested, a 6/1 6/1 win over Timea Babos, followed by a 6/2 6/1 win over Aliona Zadoinov. The 7th seed will face her first real test of the tournament against Cornet, a far trickier opponent than her previous opponents this week.

Alize Cornet has already had a good couple of good weeks in New York. Cornet won a couple of matches at the Western & Southern Open, including a straight set win over reigning Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin. Cornet started her US Open campaign with a 6/3 1/6 6/0 win over Lauren Davis, followed by a 7/6 6/3 victory over Ysaline Bonaventure. Cornet will be aiming to reach the second week at the US Open for the first time having failed at the third round stage on 4 previous occasions.

Keys holds a 3-0 head-to-head record over Cornet. The most recent match-up between the pair took place at Wimbledon in 2016, Keys won 6/4 5/7 6/2.

I’m going to go for the upset here. I believe this is a troublesome match-up for Keys despite her winning record over the Frenchwoman. Cornet has been playing well over the last few weeks and has the versatility to cause big hitters like Keys to make too many errors. I’m sceptical of Keys heading into this match because she hasn’t been tested in her first few matches and will face a very, very tricky opponent here. I don’t think Keys is prepared for the challenge. Cornet has been moving very well over the last few weeks, if she can get into enough extended rallies, I think she will get the job done.

Prediction: Alize Cornet to defeat Madison Keys in 3 sets
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