Women's Quarterfinal Previews and Picks
The editors of TENNIS.com preview and predict all four women's quarterfinals:
(8) Angelique Kerber vs. (15) Sabine Lisicki
—Head-to-Head: Kerber leads 4-0
What Kerber needs to do to win: The left-hander must use her wide serve to stretch the court and win most of the longer rallies against her more explosive opponent. She must also go after Lisicki’s second serve and win half of those points. Kerber has broken serve at least five times in every match of the fortnight; Lisicki’s first serve is 15 to 20 mph faster, so winning second-serve points will be key.
What Lisicki needs to do to win: Lisicki needs to land her explosive first serve about two-thirds of the time—she has served better than 65 percent in two of her wins, including her 6-4, 6-3 fourthround sweep of Maria Sharapova. Lisicki must also attack the net when stretching Kerber on the backhand—she is winning more than 70 percent of her trips to net and must take the offensive against her countrywoman.
The Pick: Kerber in three sets. While Lisicki’s serve is the most imposing weapon in this match, it’s Kerber who owns a WTA-best 44 wins on the season, including a 16-3 mark in her last 19 matches. She has not surrendered a set in the tournament and she’s crafty and consistent from the baseline. Perhaps most impressively, she has found ways to win when she’s not at her best.
(3) Agnieszka Radwanska vs. (19) Maria Kirilenko
—Head-to-Head: Radwanska leads 5-2
What Radwanska needs to do to win: Work the sharp angles cross court to make Kirilenko hit on the run, mix up her spins and speeds to disrupt the Russian, and continue to play with consistency. Radwanska has committed just 12 errors total in her last three tournament wins. The winner of the opening set has won all seven of their prior meetings and Radwanska is 39-0 when winning the first set this season, so a fast start is key.
What Kirilenko needs to do to win: Take some chances, particularly on her serve and when changing direction in rallies. Kirilenko has lost four in a row to Radwanska and will likely not win a straightforward baseline battle. She must use her net skills, go for some big serves and occasionally drive the ball down the line. Kirilenko must maintain the two-to-one winners-to-errors ratio she’s had throughout the tournament.
The Pick: Radwanska in two sets. Grass is Radwanska’s favorite surface and the 2005 Wimbledon girls’ champion has a legitimate shot to reach her first major semifinal. Radwanska’s past success over Kirilenko make her the favorite, and she has not surrendered a set in the tournament; if she manages her nerve and plays a solid match, the third seed should reach her first Grand Slam semifinal.
(4) Petra Kvitova vs. (6) Serena Williams
—Head-to-Head: Williams leads 2-0
What Kvitova needs to do to win: Hit the ball in. Sometimes it’s as simple as that for Kvitova. When she’s on, few can stay with her. When she’s off, she has trouble staying with anyone. In the semis of the last two majors, Maria Sharapova beat her with superior intensity. The mellow Kvitova needs to make sure she doesn’t let Serena do the same thing.
What Williams needs to do to win: Serena leaned on her serve in her match against the hard-hitting Yaroslava Shvedova on Monday, and she’ll have to do it again when she faces the even harder-hitting Kvitova. Williams has also been tight and frustrated in her matches so far; she can’t afford that now.
The Pick: Williams in three sets. Kvitova hasn’t raised her game in the latter stages of the majors this year, which is exactly what Williams has always done. And if the way Serena has played in the past against Sharapova is any indication, she also raises her game when playing against fellow former Wimbledon champions.
(2) Victoria Azarenka vs. Tamira Paszek
—Head-to-Head: Azarenka leads 2-0
What Azarenka needs to do to win: Azarenka’s serve has been exposed in the past. Aces aren’t as important as a high first-serve percentage—Azarenka’s second serves will come back fast, because of both the surface and Paszek’s aggression. When she’s not serving, Azarenka must make the most of her return. It’s her best chance to end points early and deny Paszek the opportunity to establish a hard-hitting rhythm.
What Paszek needs to do to win: First, not be satisfied: Coming off a title at the Eastbourne tune-up, Paszek has accomplished much more on grass than anyone could have expected. Second, go for her shots. Paszek was bold against Caroline Wozniacki, even when she was down match points. Third, get the fans behind her. It’s not stop-the-presses news that the high-pitched Azarenka isn’t a crowd favorite.
The Pick: Azarenka in three sets. Their starts to the season couldn’t have been more different—Paszek began a remarkably bad 2-13 while Azarenka won her first 26 matches. But those stats are irrelevant now, as both women have found their best form. Paszek has the firepower to go all Lukas Rosol on Azarenka, but the No. 2 seed’s superior consistency should quell the Austrian in the end.