WTA Tour: Women’s Semi-Finals

WTA: Woman's Semi-Finals - Cincinnati Masters

Our tennis guru examines the WTA Tour at the Cincinnati Masters with the women’s semi-finals set to go down to the wire.

The Women’s event in Cincinnati is looking more and more like its heading towards a potentially decisive final for the World Number 1 spot. There is something slightly disturbing about the fact that neither woman has yet claimed a Grand Slam title, but I perhaps should stop looking so pessimistically at the state of women’s tennis and focus on the undoubted potential.

Karolina Plisikova has looked regal in the defense of her title this season, with a resounding victory over nemesis Caroline Wozniacki, underlying her supremacy on these courts. Simona Halep has also seemed imperious en route to the final and will be hoping to maintain her fluidity going into her semi-final match.

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WTA Premier 5 | Cincinnati Masters | Women’s Semi-Finals | 19 August 2017

Karolina Plisikova (6/10) |  Garbine Muguruza (12/10)
Karolina Plisikova was relentless in her victory over Caroline Wozniacki. The Dane has formed quite a rivalry with the current World Number 1, with Plisikova beating Wozniacki in the final at both Doha and Eastbourne. But the Dane would have gained some confidence in her quarter-final victory in Toronto, only for the Czech to utterly demolish her here. She never dropped a game on serve and looks like not only the favorite here but also the likely candidate to triumph at Flushing Meadows.

That being said, she is coming up against perhaps the in-form player on the women’s tour: Garbine Muguruza. Muguruza channeled all of her Grand Slam winning mentality to overcome Svetlana Kuznetsova and Madison Keys in grueling three set encounters. The current Wimbledon Champion reached the semi-finals in Stanford and the quarter-final stage at Toronto. She will be looking to fight off fatigue and overcome a truly ominous head to head record against Plisikova.

Plisikova’s dominance over Muguruza of late has been immense. She has won 6 of their 7 encounters, including the last 6 consecutive matches. All 6 of those matches were on a hard court. Furthermore, the Czech has won both of their matches this year in straight sets. While Murguruza will be the sentimental favorite in the wake of the Barcelona attacks, I can only see one winner here, especially considering how overvalued Muguruza looks at 5/4.

Verdict: Plisikov Win (6/10)

Simona Halep (7/20) | Sloane Stephens (19/10)
Simona Halep avenged that heartbreaking quarter-final defeat at Wimbledon to Johanna Konta, winning in straight sets to keep her dreams of becoming World Number 1 alive. Halep’s season has had its fair share of ups and downs, but this is her sixth semi-final appearance in her last 9 events. She has thrived on the slightly faster courts and will be looking to make the 26th final of her career.

Sloane Stephens has been on my radar for a few weeks since her recovery from a serious foot injury. Her semi-final showing at Toronto showed the extent to which the American has rallied on the North-American hardcourts. Her power from the baseline will no doubt pose a huge threat to Halep as Stephens aims to make her first final since the Charleston Open last year.

I actually backed Stephens to pull off a humungous upset over Halep in Washington upon her return from injury. Stephens was soundly beaten by Halep but has made steady progress in the following weeks. She looked exhausted in the semi-final defeat to Wozniacki in Toronto but she is slowly building her fitness. Halep has a 4-2 win loss record over Stephens and completely trounced her at the Citi Open, but I feel that Stephens has evolved so dramatically over the last few weeks. Halep has shown a propensity to fold in the huge games and her price looks awful when you consider Stephens’ undoubted ability.

Verdict: Stephens Win (19/10)

Written by Damien Kayat for @Hollywoodbets.net

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