After what has been a truly thrilling week of tennis so far at the China Open in Beijing, just four women are left in contention for the title. But who will book their place in Sunday’s final?
China Open Semifinal Predictions
Ashleigh Barty vs Kiki Bertens
Head-to-head: Barty 4-0 Bertens
Ashleigh Barty has the ability, unusual for a world #1, to pass almost under the radar as she progresses through a tournament. It is perhaps a reflection of the Australian’s somewhat contained personality and subtle game. But make no mistake, as befits the player at the top of the ranking’s pile, she is a superb talent and a title-threat wherever and whenever she plays. She has proved as much this week with a series of impressive victories.
After a first-round bye, she opened her China Open campaign with a dominant 6-4 6-2 win over Kazakhstan’s Yulia Putintseva. She was not quite at her best in the third round, but did enough to best home Zheng Saisai in three, 6-3 6-7 6-2. And then in her best performance of the week, she overturned a 1-4 head-to-head deficit against Petra Kvitova in the quarterfinals to beat the Czech 4-6 6-4 6-3. But she will need to maintain that level against the in-form Kiki Bertens.
After the crushing disappointment of her second-round retirement at the French Open, Bertens had endured a period of indifferent form. But she has been electric so far this week, battling past Donna Vekic from a set down in the first round before beating young gun Dayan Yastremska 7-6 6-3. The Dutchwoman then got the better of Polona Hercog in a three-set thriller, before ousting third seed Elina Svitolina in straight-sets, 7-6 6-2.
However, she has consistently struggled to contend with the guile and court-craft of Barty, losing all four of their previous encounters, although she has taken the Australian the distance in three of those matches. Nonetheless, it is unsurprising that Bertens, a player who thrives on rhythm, should find Barty a tricky foe. The world #1 possesses unrivalled variety, with her wicked slice backhand the pick of her arsenal. Expect her to confound Bertens once again in Beijing.
Prediction: Barty in 3
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Naomi Osaka vs Caroline Wozniacki
Head-to-head: Wozniacki 2-0 Osaka
Caroline Wozniacki has been in superb form so far at the China Open. The Dane started her tournament with a dominant 6-1 6-3 win over Lauren Davis in the first round and hasn’t looked back since. Her next opponent Christina McHale offered no more resistance than her compatriot Davis, losing 4-6 0-6, and whilst Katerina Siniakova gave Wozniacki pause at times, the former-world #1 was nonetheless a worthy 7-5 6-4 victor. She then booked her place in the last four with a 7-6 6-3 win over Daria Kasatkina.
But she may well need to raise her level to still greater heights up against Naomi Osaka. The Japanese star is riding an eight-match winning streak after her triumph at her hometown event in Osaka and has won 16 of the last 17 sets she has contested. Indeed, the only player to take her the distance since the US Open was the champion in New York, Bianca Andreescu, who Osaka edged out in three sets, 5-7 6-3 6-4, in the quarterfinals in an instant classic.
However, in spite of that excellent run of form, there are causes to be concerned for Osaka. Her match against Andreescu was surely taxing mentally and physically and she will need to guard against a let down against Wozniacki. Particularly as she has lost both her previous contests with the Dane, although they have not played since 2017. And Osaka has improved considerably since. With her power, when she is playing with confidence, she can be almost unstoppable. Expect her to book her place in the final, albeit not without a fight from Wozniacki.
Prediction: Osaka in 3
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