WTA Tour: Connecticut Open Semi-Finals Preview

Tennis player holds racquet

We take a look at the semi-fianls of the WTA's Connecticut Open taking place at the Cullman-Heyman Tennis Centre this weekend. 

Aryna Sabalenka 1/1 | Julia Gorges 15/20
What a couple of weeks it has been for the young Belarusian superstar. It kind of started in Canada, where the youngster accounted for Caroline Wozniacki before being knocked out in the Round of 16. But what a magnificent tournament she had in Cincinnati last week. She ultimately lost to top seed Simona Halep in the semis. But just look at her roster of vanquished foes. She beat Konta, Pliskova, Garcia and Madison Keys. She has brought some of that energy to New Haven this week with victories over Gavrilova and Bencic already. She already has reached finals in Lugano and Eastbourne this season. Like Tsitsipas on the male side, Sabalenka seems to be an all-court threat that could threaten the very top of the rankings.

Gorges has had a largely positive year. She won the season-ending WTA Elite Trophy last year and brought that form into 2018, winning in Auckland. After a disappointing campaign in the Aussie Open she would go on to reach the semi-finals in St Petersburg. That result saw her enter the World Top 10 for the first time. She then had some injury issues before reaching the final in Charleston. The rest of her clay-court campaign was largely anonymous, as was the beginning of her grass-court season. But she would go on to surprise all with her first Grand Slam semi-final appearance at Wimbledon. Her hardcourt form has been somewhat mediocre since then, so this showing will no doubt give her great confidence ahead of next week’s US Open: Gorges actually reached the fourth Round in Flushing Meadows last season.

This will be their second meeting following Sabalenka’s triumph over the German earlier this season in Eastbourne. This truly is a hard one to predict but current form seems to indicate that the powerful Belarusian could have the slight edge- particularly giving that slight head-to-head advantage. 

Monica Puig 23/20 | Carla Suarez-Navarro 6/10
Suarez-Navarro really burst into the tennis consciousness with that massive victory in Qatar in 2016. She replicated that hardcourt brilliance with a great quarter-final run in Melbourne to start the season. She then further entrenched her status as a hardcourt force with a run to the quarter-finals of the exceptionally competitive Indian Wells event. Bucking the trend for Spanish players in general, Navarro had a fairly benign clay-court campaign. She surprisingly had to go through qualifying at Canada, making it to the final 16 after accounting for Naomi Osaka in the Round of 64. This week she has already accounted for some heavyweight names. She has beaten Strycova, Konta and Kvitova en route to the semi-finals. Navarro’s brand of varied power and touch is a fresh tonic from the general display of perpetual onslaught on tour.

Puerto Rican 24-year-old Monica Puig had to come through qualifying in what already qualifies as a major success this week. It’s quite easy to forget that the Puerto Rican is currently the Olympic Gold Medal holder. She also overcame second seed Caroline Garcia in the quarter-finals and is certainly experiencing her best form of the season thus far. Puig had a shocking season last year, failing to get past the second round of a Grand Slam or Premier Mandatory event. This season has certainly shown some signs of improvement. Notably, she reached the final 16 in Indian Wells, beating Caroline Wozniacki on the way. She reached the quarters in Monterrey before pulling out of the French with a hip injury. Since then her form has once again been patchy.

Suarez Navarro emphatically leads the head-to-head 5-1. That has to be viewed with some caution, as their last meeting came back in 2015. Furthermore, three of the encounters came on clay, where Suarez Navarro is a far more complete player. It’s quite tough to see how Suarez Navarro will not prevail here. While I would like to opt for better value and a straight sets victory, I can see Puig pinching a set against the dogged Spaniard. 

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Written by Damien Kayat for @Hollywoodbets.net

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