By Ros Satar

  • Elina Svitolina [5] v Serena Williams [8]
  • Belinda Bencic [13] v Bianca Andreescu [15]
NEW YORK, USA – With Serena Williams the only Slam winner in the mix, who will make the finals in the last Slam of the year?

 

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Elina Svitolina [5] v Serena Williams [8] | Williams leads H2H 4-1

Whisper it – ‘24’ is once more on the cards as Serena Williams has looked imperious in her run through to the semi-finals. From the block-buster first-round match-up with Maria Sharapova, where she blasted the Russian off the court… again, to coming from a set down against one of the newer stars on the American tennis scene in Caty McNally, she has looked to be very much in control.

those two encounters, it has pretty much been a one-way street for Williams as she closes in on another US Open final, but more importantly looks to be very much up for finally equalling Margaret Court’s record of 24 Grand Slams.

Elina Svitolina in the quarter-final of the US Open 2019, New York USA

Elina Svitolina in the quarter-final of the US Open 2019, New York USA | (Photo by TPN/Getty Images)

Standing in her way is last year’s WTA Finals winner, now looking to get that elusive first Slam title, Elina Svitolina. For many years now, she has been a consistent figure in the top echelons of the women’s rankings, and last year won the biggest title of her career – so can this be that long-awaited spring-board to a first major?

The head to head would suggest that Williams comes in as the favourite, and it has been a while since they last played each other, but tellingly Svitolina got her first win over the 23-time slam champion at the Rio Olympics. Svitolina has developed as a player and her defiant attitude at the start of the WTA Finals showed maybe a shift in mentality.

Despite having had to deal with a few injuries at the start of the season, since the summer she is finishing a lot stronger. She reached her first Slam semi-final in Wimbledon having previously gone 0-4 in quarter-finals and has now done the same in New York, and has not dropped a set along the way.

She will face the legendary serving and indeed returning from Williams that has been a trademark for her game, built around taking control of rallies balanced with consistent power and placement. Facing Williams will be a test of Svitolina’s own baseline game.

The Ukrainian is metronomically consistent, and while she might not necessarily have the same amount of power that Williams has, she backs that up with very good movement, and can smack accurate winners on the run. Perhaps she is not quite as strong as Williams can be at the net and has a consistent and improved serve, but again not quite in Williams’ league.

They have only gone the distance once in their five encounters, and this has all the makings of another Slam three-setter for them. Curiously, whenever Williams has lost in a US Open final (2011, 2011), she has come back to win the following year.

Prediction: Williams in three sets.

 

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Belinda Bencic [13] v Bianca Andreescu [15] | First Meeting

Belinda Bencic in the quarter-final of the US Open 2019, New York USA

Belinda Bencic in the quarter-final of the US Open 2019, New York USA | (Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images)

From one current teenage history-maker to one who has been there, done that and literally has the surgical scars to prove it, Belinda Bencic and Bianca Andreescu make their Slam semi-final debuts.

For many, the comeback of Bencic sees her become the first Swiss woman to reach the semi-finals of a slam since Timea Bacsinszky (Roland Garros 2017) and she will aim to be the first since Martina Hingis to reach a Slam final while Andreescu is the first Canadian woman to reach the US Open semi-finals since Carling Bassett in 1984.  Should she reach the final she will be only the second Canadian woman, behind Genie Bouchard.

Bencic came to prominence early, earning a reputation for playing smart and being perhaps more cerebral than her young peers. She can take the power and pace that comes at her, and redirect it with precision and placement to make her opponents run ragged. She still has a good deal of the aggression we see in this exciting batch of young players, taking the ball early and has worked hard to improve her serve and consistency off both wings.

Bianca Andreescu in the fourth round of the US Open 2019, New York USA

Bianca Andreescu in the fourth round of the US Open 2019, New York USA | (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Over the net will be an equally aggressive, devil-may-care Andreescu – who can also be described as having a game slightly different to other players. She has a lot of variation that has driven some of the best players’ nuts – just ask Angelique Kerber. She will look to disrupt Bencic’s rhythm, and we saw in her semi-final that Bencic can give a lot of vent to her frustrations if things are not going her way – Andreescu is the kind of player that can then feed off that and make the whole experience an ever-decreasing circle of despair!

With both set to be in the Top 10 at the end of the tournament, while the future of the WTA looks to be in safe young hands, who will prevail. Experience says Bencic, but Andreescu swings fearlessly and fatigue might start to play a factor with Andreescu, who has had to put together two three-setters including coming from a set down to Elise Mertens to reach this position.

Prediction: Bencic in three sets.

The semi-finals take place from 7pm (Midnight Friday BST).

 

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