Serena Williams vs. Tsvetana Pironkova, Roland Garros R2 Preview

??? Roland Garros, R2 preview + prediction:
?? (6) Serena Williams vs. ?? Tsvetana Pironkova

Serena Williams and Tsvetana Pironkova will go head-to-head at the second major in a row as the pair clash at the second round stage at Roland Garros. Williams just edged past Pironkova in 3 sets at the quarter-final stage of the US Open earlier this month, can the Bulgarian avenge that loss in Paris?

Both Williams and Pironkova are playing for the first time since their respective deep runs at the US Open earlier this month. Pironkova shocked the tennis world by reaching the quarter-finals at Flushing Meadows despite being away from the tour for over 2 years. Williams defeated Pironkova 4-6 6-3 6-2 in the final 8 before being eliminated in the semi-finals.

Serena Williams made a decent start to her 2020 Roland Garros campaign, the 3-time former champion claimed a 7-6 6-0 win over Kristie Ahn to advance to the second round. Meanwhile Pironkova claimed a decent 6-3 6-3 win over Andrea Petkovic, the Bulgarian’s best result in Paris was a run to the quarter-finals in 2016, a year that featured similarly cold and rainy conditions to this year’s event.

Williams holds a perfect 5-0 head-to-head record over Pironkova. 3 of the 5 matches between the pair went the distance, Pironkova certainly made Williams work hard during their quarter-final clash in New York.

This promises to be a close match. I am not convinced by Williams on clay at the moment, Roland Garros has been Serena’s least successful major in recent times, the heavy conditions will make life even more difficult for the 39-year-old. The problem for Williams is that her movement is the area of her game that has declined the most, that is an area that can be exploited on clay more than any other surface. Pironkova has the mix of power and versatility from the baseline to really challenge Williams in these conditions. Williams is undoubtedly rusty on this surface, Pironkova can take advantage. The Bulgarian will have learned from her mistakes in New York, with a couple of adjustments she has what it takes to get the win in troublesome conditions.

Prediction: Tsvetana Pironkova to defeat Serena Williams in 3 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

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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Serena Williams vs. Sloane Stephens, US Open R3 Preview

2020 US OPEN – R3 preview + prediction: ??
?? (4) Serena Williams vs. ?? (26) Sloane Stephens

Serena Williams continues her quest for a 24th major title on Saturday with a blockbuster third round clash against Sloane Stephens. This will surprisingly be the first meeting between the pair in over 5 years, the first real test of the tournament for Serena Williams. Can Stephens spoil the party, or will Williams be too strong?

All eyes are on Serena Williams at Flushing Meadows as she continues to battle for her first Grand Slam title since the 2017 Australian Open. Williams has claimed a pair of straight set victories on route to the third round, a 7/5 6/3 win over Kristie Ahn, followed by a 6/2 6/4 triumph over Margarita Gasparyan, neither of those victories were overly convincing and there are still big questions marks surroundings Serena’s ability to go all the way in New York.

Stephens has also moved into the third round without dropping a set. The 2017 US Open champion cruised past Michaela Buzarnescu 6/3 6/3 in the opening round, followed by a 6/2 6/2 victory over Olga Govortsova. Stephens has struggled in 2020 but often finds a way to peak at major events. Stephens hasn’t won 3 matches in a row at a tournament since Roland Garros last year. We will learn a lot more about how Stephens is playing when she faces Williams, a step up in opposition compared to her previous opponents this week.

Williams leads the head-to-head record at 5-1. Williams has won the last 4 meetings between the pair, two of those matches went the distance, including their most recent match which took place at Roland Garros in 2015, Williams won that match 1/6 7/5 6/3.

I’m going to go for the upset here and side with Stephens. I believe Stephens has all the necessary weapons to trouble Williams. All of Serena’s losses at majors over the last few years have come against a similar type of opponent, a top level counter-puncher, Angelique Kerber, Simona Halep, Bianca Andreescu, Naomi Osaka, Sofia Kenin and Wang Qiang. They all beat Williams in a similar fashion. They were all able to absorb the pace of Williams thanks to their fantastic movement, stick with Williams in neutral rallies, they all also had the ability to redirect power and hurt Williams by stretching her out wide and exposing her movement. Stephens has the perfect balance of fantastic movement and power behind her groundstrokes to win in a similar fashion. Williams hasn’t been impressive from the baseline since the tour restart, if Sloane can get into enough neutral rallies, she should be able to get the job done.

Prediction: Sloane Stephens to defeat Serena Williams in 3 sets
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Serena Williams vs. Maria Sakkari, CincyTennis R3 Preview

?? Western & Southern Open – R3 Preview + Prediction:
?? (3) Serena Williams vs. ?? (13) Maria Sakkari

Serena Williams continues her US Open preparations on Tuesday evening with a third round clash against the 13th seeded Maria Sakkari at the Western & Southern Open in New York. Williams is coming off a marathon victory in her first outing of the tournament and is potentially vulnerable heading into this clash against a player that’s been in great form this week. Can Sakkari pull off the upset?

Maria Sakkari has picked up a pair of straight set victories to reach the third round at Flushing Meadows. The 25-year-old started the week with an impressive 6-1 6-3 thrashing of the much-hyped Cori Gauff. Sakkari was forced to work much harder for her second round victory and did well to overcome Yulia Putintseva 6-4 7-6. Sakkari saved a pair of set points in an epic second set tiebreak which she eventually won 11-9 to secure a hard-fought win over the Kazakh.

Serena Williams is making a habit of getting herself into lengthy battles against opponents she would expect to beat comfortably. All 3 of Serena’s matches went the distance in her first tournament back at the Top Seed Open in Lexington. The 23-time Grand Slam champion made a similarly unconvincing start to her Western & Southern Open campaign, a 7-6 3-6 7-6 win over Arantxa Rus in a match that last just over 3 hours. Williams will have a little over 24 hours to recover for her clash against Sakkari, a potentially problematic scenario for the 38-year-old.

The only previous meeting between the pair took place at the Hopman Cup in 2018, Williams won that match 7-6 6-2.

I’m going to side with Sakkari here. The biggest factor heading into this match is the limited rest Williams has coming off a gruelling 3-hour match in extreme heat. Williams herself admitted she struggled physically during that match, the American will be made to work for every point against Sakkari, so she will need to recover quickly. Conversely, Sakkari comes into this match full of confidence after a pair of straight set wins over tough opponents and will be very keen to claim a victory over such an icon of the game. Sakkari is the type of opponent Williams has struggled with over the last few years, a counter-puncher with weapons. If Sakkari can make this a physical battle, she is likely to come out on top, especially with Williams having one eye on the US Open next week. 

Prediction: Maria Sakkari to defeat Serena Williams in 3 sets

Elina Svitolina vs. Serena Williams, US Open SF Preview

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?? (5) Elina Svitolina vs. ?? (8) Serena Williams

A blockbuster semi-final encounter at Flushing Meadows sees the 5th seeded Elina Svitolina come up against 23-time major winner Serena Williams. Svitolina enters this clash full of confidence, the Ukrainian is playing the best tennis of her career right now and will be eager to reach her first Grand Slam final. Svitolina has beaten Williams before but will be coming up against a formidable opponent on Thursday evening, Williams is on a mission and is approaching her best level. Can Svitolina pull off the upset victory?

Elina Svitolina is through to back-to-back Grand Slam semi-finals thanks to some fantastic victories. Svitolina also enters this semi-final clash on the back of some stunning performances. The 5th seed played scintillating tennis to defeat Madison Keys and Johanna Konta in straight sets to advance to the final 4. The consistency and movement of Svitolina overwhelmed Keys and Konta, a pair of big hitters, Svitolina will be hoping to execute a similar game against Williams Svitolina has moved through the entire draw without dropping a set having defeated Whitney Osuigwe, Venus Williams and Dayana Yastremska in straight sets during the first week of the event.

Serena Williams is once again on the verge of capturing that elusive 24th Grand Slam title. Williams is yet to win a major since returning from giving birth despite reaching the later stages on numerous occasions. Williams is seemingly desperate to make this the tournament she goes all the way, the 8th seed enters the semi-final stage on the back of her most dominant performance of the tournament where she thrashed China’s Wang Qiang 6-1 6-0 in a near-flawless display of power hitting. Williams has dramatically improved her level since she played some scratchy tennis in a 3-set win over Caty McNally in the second round, straight set wins over Karolina Muchova and Petra Martic preceded Williams’ domination of Wang.

Williams holds a 4-1 head-to-head record over Svitolina. It was Svitolina who won the most recent match between the pair, a 6-4 6-3 victory at the Rio Olympics on a hard court. Much has changed since their last meeting, both are in totally different places right now so it will be interesting to see how this matchup unfolds.

I’m going to go for the upset here and side with Svitolina. It feels like this is Svitolina’s time to breakthrough and claim her first career major title. Svitolina is playing amazing tennis at the moment, her movement and defensive skills are the best on tour and that could spell trouble for Williams. Williams has consistently struggled at this stage of Grand Slams since her return from giving birth, specifically against top level counter-punchers, Svitolina falls into this category. If Svitolina’s serve holds up, she has a great chance at winning this match. Svitolina’s first serve has improved dramatically, if she lands enough first serves and gets involved in enough rallies on the Williams serve she should find a way a fight through this one.

Prediction: Elina Svitolina to defeat Serena Williams in 3 sets

Serena Williams vs. Qiang Wang, US Open QF Preview

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?? (8) Serena Williams vs. ?? (18) Qiang Wang

Serena Williams continues her quest for an elusive 24th Grand Slam title on Monday night when she takes on China’s Wang Qiang at the quarter-final stage of the 2019 US Open. The pair bring hugely contrasting experience into this match, Williams will be competing in her 52nd Grand Slam singles quarter-final whilst Wang will be making her first ever appearance at this stage of a major.

Serena Williams is seemingly getting stronger and stronger as the tournament rolls on in New York. Williams started her campaign with a 6-1 6-1 drubbing of Maria Sharapova before being forced to fight from a set down to beat Caty McNally. The 23-time major winners struggle against McNally was seemingly a wakeup call. Williams has produced two improved performances to secure a spot in the final 8 with straight set wins over Karolina Muchova and Petra Martic. Williams has consistently come across unfamiliar opponents in New York, her match with Wang will be a fourth consecutive first-time matchup for Williams, a rarity given her experience.

Qiang Wang is on the verge of cracking the WTA top 10 for the first time having reached her first major quarter-final. Wang has had a good few weeks in New York having arrived at Flushing Meadows fresh from a semi-final showing in the Bronx. Wang is yet to drop a set this tournament, Wang cruised through the first week with wins over Caroline Dolehide, Alison Van Uytvanck and Fiona Ferro. Wang made her biggest move in the fourth round where she upset the 2nd seeded Ash Barty with a 6-2 6-4 win. Wang was amazingly clutch in her win over Barty, the Chinese number 1 saved all 9 break points she faced against the Aussie to claim the biggest win of her career.

This will be the first career meeting between Serena Williams an Wang Qiang.

Obviously it is Serena Williams who rightfully heads into this match as a strong favourite. The record of Williams speaks for itself but Wang will be no pushover, Wang is playing the best tennis of her career and has nothing to lose heading into this match. Wang absorbs pace very well, she likes playing against big hitters so it will be interesting to see how she matches up against Williams. I think this will be much closer than expected, Wang can match Williams from the baseline, tempted to pick Wang but the experience of Williams and her superior serve will likely win out in the end.

Prediction: Serena Williams to defeat Qiang Wang in 3 sets

Serena Williams vs. Catty McNally, US Open R2 Preview

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?? (8) Serena Williams vs. ?? (wc) Catty McNally

Serena Williams continues her quest for Grand Slam title number 24 when she takes on Catty McNally at the second round stage of the 2019 US Open on Wednesday. Williams made a huge statement in an opening round demolition of Maria Sharapova and is widely considered the favourite to lift the trophy at Flushing Meadows.

Serena Williams extended her winning streak of Maria Sharapova to an incredible 19 matches with a comprehensive 6-1 6-1 victory over the Russian on Monday evening. Williams looked extremely sharp, she moved well, served well, hit with authority from the baseline and is seemingly on a mission in New York. Williams is probably playing her nest tennis since giving birth at the moment, it will be interesting to see if she can sustain that level over the next two weeks, something she has struggled to do over the last few years.

Catty McNally will be playing in the biggest match of her young career when she takes to the court against Serena Williams. The 17-year-old wild card advanced to the second round in New York with a 6-4 6-1 win over Timea Bacsinszky, her first ever win in the main draw of a Grand Slam. McNally is a player on the rise, it will be interesting to see how her game matches up against the best.

This will be the first career meeting between Williams and McNally, a huge mismatch on paper, a 23-time Grand Slam champion against a player that has only won 1 main draw match at a Grand Slam. Williams was in ominous form in her opening round win over Sharapova and I expect her to show no mercy here. This should be a very comfortable win for Williams over a very inexperienced opponent.

Prediction: Serena Williams to defeat Caty McNally in 2 sets

Serena Williams vs. Maria Sharapova, US Open R1 Preview

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?? (8) Serena Williams vs. ?? Maria Sharapova

The pick of the opening round match-ups at the 2019 US Open sees the two biggest names in women’s tennis renew hostilities as Serena Williams comes up against Maria Sharapova. This will be the 22nd career meeting between the pair, their first ever meeting at the US Open. Williams holds a 19-2 head-to-head record over Sharapova and has won the last 18 matches between the pair in what is arguably the most talked about match-up in women’s tennis over the last few decades. Will Williams continue her dominance over Sharapova in New York?

Serena Williams is still desperately searching for a 24th major title, her first since returning from giving birth. Williams has been close on several occasions over the last few years having reached the final in 3 of her last 5 Grand Slam appearances. Williams was infamously beaten by Naomi Osaka in last year’s controversial US Open final, can the 37-year-old go one step further in 2019? Recent form suggests Williams will yet again feature late in the tournament, Williams arrives in New York fresh from a runner-up showing at the Rogers Cup which was ultimately derailed by a back injury, Williams reached the Wimbledon final just a few months ago.

The last time Serena Williams played Maria Sharapova was at the quarter-final stage of the 2016 Australian Open, Maria Sharapova would fail a doping test shortly after that match. Sharapova has never threatened at a major Since her return from the subsequent doping ban. Sharapova is currently languishing just inside the top 100 of the rankings and has really struggled for the majority of the 2019 season with ongoing injury problems continuing to make life tough for the Russian. Most recently Sharapova broke a lengthy winless spell with a straight set win over Alison Riske in Cincinnati before receiving a reality check as she was smashed by Ash Barty in the next round. It will be fascinating to see how Sharapova regroups and performs against her greatest ever rival.

Williams has absolutely dominated Sharapova, everyone knows that. Williams has won an unprecedented 18 matches in a row against Sharapova, 12 of the last 13 of those matches were straight set victories.

There is little to suggest that Sharapova will be able to stop her losing streak against Williams in New York. Williams has generally been much closer to her best than Sharapova has been to her best. Serena’s serve is still strong, she still has the power and her movement is still good. Sharapova’s serve is a mess and she is certainly not as strong as she once was. Nevertheless, I feel like this will be closer than expected, Williams will be rusty, Williams will be nervous, Sharapova has nothing to lose and a point to prove. I can’t pick Sharapova but it’s not impossible.

Prediction: Serena Williams to defeat Maria Sharapova in 3 sets

Serena Williams vs. Sofia Kenin, Roland Garros R3 Preview

???? Roland Garros, R3 Preview
?? (10) Serena Williams vs. ?? Sofia Kenin

Serena Williams continues her Roland Garros campaign on Saturday with a third round clash against Sofia Kenin. Williams made a nervy start to the tournament but produced an improved performance in the second round, there still room for huge improvement. The 23-time Grand Slam champion will probably face her first real test of the tournament against Kenin, an opponent that has troubled some of the best players in the world in recent times. Can Kenin upset Williams to claim the biggest win of her career?

Serena Williams of the United States in action during her first-round match at the 2019 Roland Garros Grand Slam tennis tournament

Serena Williams was the great unknown heading into Roland Garros 2019. As a 23-time Grand Slam champion the 33-year-old can never be dismissed heading into a major. However, Serena arrived in Paris having not won back-to-back matches since the Australian Open thanks to ongoing injury concerns. The 10th seed has broken that streak in Paris, starting with a less than convincing 2-6 6-1 6-0 win over Vitalia Diatchenko in the first round before a more respectable 6-3 6-2 triumph over Kurumi Nara.

Sofia Kenin only had to defeat the world number 164 in order to reach the third round in Paris for the first time. Kenin started her Roland Garros with a messy 6-3 5-7 6-2 win over the 164th ranked Giulia Gatto-Monticone before receiving a walkover in the second round thanks to Bianca Andreescu’s withdrawal from the tournament. Kenin has never made it past the third round of a Grand Slam before and will need to produce her very best tennis here if she is to giver herself a chance to break new ground in Paris,

This will be the first career meeting between Williams and Kenin.

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