Five things to watch, US Open Day 11: Sizzling semis; Azarenka-Barty

Five things to watch, US Open Day 11: Sizzling semis; Azarenka-Barty

Serena Williams meets Elina Svitolina, Belinda Bencic battles Bianca Andreescu, and the doubles events draw closer to their conclusions on an exciting Thursday at Flushing Meadows.

The semifinals begin Thursday at the US Open. These are five storylines to look out for on Day 11 in New York.


One wonders if Venus Williams and her team took copious notes during her 6-4, 6-4 second-round loss to Elina Svitolina, as her sister Serena now gets set to face the world No. 5. Serena, the favorite in this semifinal matchup, likely won’t need any assistance, but a little extra game-planning never hurt anybody. Serena is on a mission at this year’s US Open. Aside from her one set hiccup against 17-year-old Caty McNally, she has dismantled the competition. In her quarterfinal, she laid down one of the all-time smackdowns on 18th-seeded Wang Qiang, winning 6-1, 6-0 in 44 minutes. Svitolina, who has yet to drop a single set, should provide the toughest test yet for the 23-time major champion. Serena owns a 4-1 head-to-head record over the Ukrainian, but lost their last meeting at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

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The first Grand Slam doubles title for the superstar duo of Ashleigh Barty and Victoria Azarenka is on the horizon. High-profile singles players competing in doubles events is huge for the sport, as big names fill up stadiums, no matter the format. Excluding the iconic Williams sisters squad, Barty and Azarenka would be the first pair of Grand Slam singles titles holders to win a major doubles trophy since Martina Hingis and Mary Pierce at the 2000 French Open. Barty and Azarenka are heavy favorites in their semifinal matchup against Viktoria Kuzmova and Alexandra Sasnovich. 

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Tennis writers around the world are running out of superlatives to describe Canadian phenom Bianca Andreescu. The 19-year-old is in the home stretch of a historic season, a remarkable 43-4 on the year. In January, Andreescu was playing WTA 125k level tournaments, now she is one match away from her first major final. Keep in mind that this is just her fourth career Grand Slam main draw appearance. Her opponent on Friday will almost surely be her toughest test so far this tournament. Belinda Bencic oozes talent, racking up eight Top-10 wins on the season. The first meeting between the Canadian and the Swiss promises to entertain. Both players have an arsenal of weapons at their disposal. But Andreescu has not lost a competed match since February, and has won an astounding 12 consecutive three-set matches.

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The future of USA tennis is well represented in Flushing meadows with nine American singles players competing in the early stages of the boys and girls junior tournament.  The American boys are led by quarterfinalist Brandon Nakashima, who currently competes for the University of Virginia Cavaliers, and Emilio Nava, the 2019 Australian Open junior finalist, who happens to be Ernesto Escobedo’s cousin. The girls are led by three-seed Alexa Noel, who competed in the women’s doubles main draw earlier this week with fellow American Abigail Forbes. 

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It looks like the post Grand Slam title slump is finally over for Kevin Krawietz and Andreas Mies. The German duo went just 2-8 after capturing the Roland Garros crown. Clearly, it took them some time to adjust to the newfound target on their back. Krawietz and Mies defeated Marcel Granollers and Pablo Cuevas in last year’s Wimbledon second round, but have yet to face Granollers and his new partner Horacio Zeballos. With 13 titles to his name, Zeballos is an accomplished doubles player. Despite having four singles titles to his name, Granollers is something of a doubles specialist. The Spaniard owns 18 doubles titles, with his most recent coming with Zeballos in Montreal. 

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Wake up every morning with Tennis Channel Live at the US Open, starting at 8 a.m. ET. For three hours leading up to the start of play, Tennis Channel's team will break down upcoming matches, review tournament storylines and focus on everything Flushing Meadows.

Tennis Channel's encore, all-night match coverage will begin every evening at 11 p.m. ET, with the exception of earlier starts on Saturday and Sunday of championship weekend.