Cincinnati SF #1: (1) Serena Williams vs (14) Elina Svitolina
The first semi-final at the 2015 Western & Southern Open sees defending champion and world number 1: Serena Williams take on Ukrainian rising star Elina Svitolina. Another title in Cincinnati would be the perfect preparation for Serena Williams as she looks to complete a “Calendar Slam” in New York in a couple of weeks time.
Serena Williams cruised through her opening two matches in Cincinnati without dropping serve, defeating Tsvetana Pironkova 7-5 6-3 before picking up a 6-0 6-2 victory over Karin Knapp. Williams was forced to work much harder for her quarter-final victory over Ana Ivanovic. The defending champion made an extremely slow start and found herself down a set and a break midway through the second set. From there it was all Serena, the American raised her level and ran away with the match, recording a 3-6 6-4 6-2 victory over the Serb. Serena will be looking for a much more consistent performance on Saturday evening when she comes against Svitolina.
Elina Svitolina continues to impress and continues to rise up the WTA rankings. The Ukrainian has made a wonderful start to the U.S Open series, reaching the semi-finals in Stanford and now in Cincinnati. Svitolina has picked up 4 solid victories on route to the final 4, defeating Alison Riske, Eugenie Bouchard and Caroline Garcia in her opening matches.
Svitolina booked her spot in the final 4 with an upset victory over Lucie Safarova, 6-4 2-6 6-0 win, her second victory over Safarova in as many matches. Svitolina was too solid from the baseline, a wayward Safarova hit too many unforced errors and was unable to hit through the Ukrainian.
Serena Williams has won both of previous encounters between the pair. Serena smashed Svitolina 6-2 6-1 on clay back in 2012 but was forced to work much harder for her victory earlier this year at the Australian Open. Serena made a slow start but eventually prevailed 4-6 6-2 6-0.
This isn’t a great match-up for Svitolina. The Ukrainian often camps herself behind the baseline and relies on her wonderful movement to grind her way past opponents. That technique isn’t going to cut it against Serena. If Svitolina wants to be competitive she will need to serve very well and try and be aggressive when she has a chance. With another title within touching distance, Serena should be far too strong in this one. Serena will not slip up at this stage of a tournament two weeks in a row.