Cincinnati QF #1: (1) Serena Williams vs (6) Ana Ivanovic
Serena Williams and Ana Ivanovic will square off for a place in the semi-finals in Cincinnati, a re-match of last year’s Western & Southern Open Final. Ivanovic is one of few players to give Serena some real problems over the last couple of years, the world number 1 will see this as a welcome test with the final Grand slam of the year just around the corner.
Serena Williams has rebounded strongly after a shock semi-final loss to Belinda Bencic last week in Toronto. The American overcame a stern test from Tsvetana Pironkova in the second round, claiming a 7-5 6-3 victory over the Bulgarian. Serena needed just 54 minutes to book her spot in the quarter-finals, claiming a comfortable 6-0 6-2 victory over Karin Knapp on Thursday. Serena has served well in her first two matches in Cincinnati, the American hasn’t been broken, saving all three break points she has been faced with. Serena’s serve is critical against Ivanovic, the Serb is one of very few players that can really attack the American’s biggest weapon.
Ana Ivanovic fought from behind to defeat Sloane Stephens 2-6 6-4 6-1 to reach back to back quarter-finals in Toronto and Cincinnati for the first time her career. Sloane Stephens looked to be right on top of the Serb, but after lengthy game late in the second set the momentum swung in Ivanovic’s favour. Ivanovic won 8 of the last 9 games in the match as Sloane Stephens totally checked out of the contest in the deciding set, hitting unforced error after unforced error to gift Ivanovic a spot in the quarter-finals. Ana’s form has been hard to gauge over the last few weeks, her quarter-final match against Williams will give us a much clearer indication as to where her game is at heading into New York.
Serena Williams holds a dominant 8-1 head to head record over Ivanovic, however the Serb has been more competitive than that record suggests. Ivanovic famously defeated Serena at the Australian Open last year and came close to repeating that effort in Rome and Stanford. Ivanovic really got on top of Serena’s serve in Melbourne and in Stanford, hitting some stunning clean winners of the American’s first and second serves. Serena will be wary of the threats Ana possess and will no doubt be pumped up for this one. Look out for a big performance by the world number 1.