The semifinals are here! After a long week at the Monterrey Open, only four players are left standing. Three of them are Grand Slam champions. All came through their quarterfinal clashes in straight sets, so one would expect them to be feeling fresh and confident heading into the last four. But who will book their place in Sunday’s final?
Magdalena Rybarikova vs Garbine Muguruza
Head-to-head: 4-2 Muguruza
Magdalena Rybarikova had a tough start to the season, but her from has really picked up in Monterrey. Indeed, it has been her best tournament of the season, highlighted by an impressive 6-4 6-4 win over Sachia Vickery in the quarterfinals. Defending champion Garbine Muguruza, meanwhile, has done very well so far in her title defense. Yesterday, she got her first win in three meetings over Kristina Mladenovic. But it didn’t come easily. Muguruza made a sharp start and looked to be coasting to victory, but Mladenovic rallied from 5-1 down in the second set, only to fall just short in a tiebreak to hand Muguruza a 6-1 7-6 win.
Muguruza leads the head-to-head between the two players 4-2, including victory in their last two meetings. Indeed, Muguruza has lost just four games in her last two matches with the Slovakian, beating Rybarikova 6-1 6-1 in 2017 in the Wimbledon semifinals and then the third round of the US Open. This match will likely be decided by whether or not Muguruza can stay patient when Rybarikova hits her off-speed shots. If Muguruza cannot, then Rybarikova will get enough unforced errors to win. However, given how Muguruza has improved match-by-match in Mexico, and her overall attitude this week, expect her to find a way past Rybarikova.
Prediction: Muguruza in two
Embed from Getty Images
Angelique Kerber vs Victoria Azarenka
Head-to-head: 7-1 Azarenka
Two multiple Major champions will collide in the second semifinal of the day. Angelique Kerber, the world #5, has had a fairly straightforward week and is yet to drop a set. Yesterday, she comfortably beat Kirsten Flipkens in the quarterfinals, winning 6-2 6-4. Victoria Azarenka has also not dropped a set coming into this clash. Yesterday, she played one of her best matches of the year, crushing four-time Monterrey Open champion Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, 6-0 6-4.
The head-to-head, given these two players’ pedigrees, is quite surprising. Azarenka has a huge edge, leading the head-to-head 7-1. Kerber’s only win came during her successful Australian Open campaign in 2016 in the quarterfinals. But their most recent meeting at the Miami Open later that season was a routine 7-5 6-2 win for the Belarusian in the semifinals. Whether Azarenka is able to hit through Kerber without over-pressing will surely be crucial in determining the outcome of this contest. Kerber is going to make a lot of balls, but if Azarenka is able to play with precision and aggression, as she has done all week, she should have enough to overcome the German’s challenge.
Prediction: Azarenka in three
Embed from Getty Images