Matches start at 11 am EDT.
Western and Southern Open
Friday, August 16, 2019
Women’s Friday Quarterfinal picks
Ash Barty over Maria Sakkari
Ash Barty, now the world #2, didn’t play anywhere near as well as she could in beating Anett Kontaveit 4-6, 7-5, 7-5, but that’s the true sign of a champion: finding a way to win when you don’t have your best game. She should find more rhythm against Maria Sakkari, the hard-hitting Greek, who came through Camila Giorgi, Petra Kvitova, and Aryna Sabalenka, the last two in three sets apiece. Barty holds a 2-1 career edge over Sakkari and should exert her dominance early and often.
Karolina Pliskova over Svetlana Kuznetsova
Kuzy!!! Svetlana Kuznetsova, the 34-year-old former U.S. Open champion rolled back the clock yesterday and overcame moody American Sloane Stephens 6-1, 6-2 with a slew of well placed, consistent groundies from the backcourt. Stephens, who is also a former U.S. Open champion, has just not been the same since she got married a couple of months ago. She has all the athletic ability in the world, and has always shown a terrific, cheerful attitude on the court and off, but the past few weeks she has appeared moody and angry. Something’s wrong there, and I guess in time we’ll find out what it is, but it doesn’t become her, and it isn’t helping her tennis. Kuzy played well, but she really didn’t need to be a world-beater, as the American was inconsistent and sprayed balls all over the court. Kuzy will face off against world #3 Karolina Pliskova, and this will be a tall order for the Russian. Pliskova has rolled through two matches without losing a set, and at this point in their careers, she’s the better player. I’d be surprised if Kuzy could take this to three sets.
Madison Keys over Venus Williams
Venus Williams used to just roll over her opponents, but now at age 39, she has found that she still has the ability to compete and outduel some of her competitors, even as she enjoys the sunset of her career. After taking out the overmatched Lauren Davis in the first round, Williams summoned all her resolve and beat both Kiki Bertens (world #5) and Donna Vekic in three sets to move into the quarters. She’s going to have a tough match with fellow American Madison Keys. Keys, who probably hits the ball better than any woman on the WTA Tour, has not won a lot lately. She is so athletic, and hits every shot so well, but she has had some trouble with finishing matches and that has affected her confidence severely. But her match Thursday night, when she beat Simona Halep 7-5 in the third, was really a thing of beauty. Keys showed no nervousness, and hit her shots without throttling back. It almost appeared that, because she was playing a top player she knew that she had nothing to lose, and being loose, without pressure, she was magnificent. If Keys brings that game into this match, Venus has no chance. If Keys tightens up, this will be a battle between who will outlast the other. I’m betting Keys brings her best game, based on what I saw last night, but you never know….especially with her.
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