2018 US Open WTA Semifinal Preview: Serena Williams vs Anastasija Sevastova

We’re down to the final four in New York after a wacky fortnight which saw the massive elimination of top seeds, extreme weather and some crazy umpiring incidents. As always though, the depth on the tour is excellent and our four semifinalists are all seeded players. The top half of the draw has given us a Serena Williams – Anastasija Sevastova semifinal – while the pick may seem obvious to many, will the underdog stand any chance to emerge victorious in this match-up? Continue reading for my analysis of our first semifinal of the day…

US Open, Semifinal

[17] Serena Williams (No.26) vs [19] Anastasija Sevastova (No.19)

Image result for sevastova us open 2018

Williams has proved once again that you don’t need to come into a big tournament with form to do well there – coming into the US Open on a three-match losing streak, the former World No.1 has made it all the way to the semifinals with the loss of just one set. Williams was pushed to three sets against Kaia Kanepi in the fourth round, but cruised past Venus Williams and Karolina Pliskova in the third round and quarterfinals respectively.

Williams was particularly impressive against Pliskova – starting off slowly and down 2-4 to the Czech, the American found her groove quickly to reel off eight games in a row to gain a 4-0 advantage in the second set. Pliskova threatened to come back in the second set with one break of serve and had four break points in the next Serena service game to get the set back on serve, but the 23-time Grand Slam champion proved her mettle by saving them all of them, all with first serves. Serena hit 13 aces and 35 winners enroute to her victory, showing the world that she is very close to her best once again.

Sevastova had made it to the quarterfinals in New York in 2016 & 2017, but has now made it one round further with a surprise victory over defending champion Sloane Stephens. Even though Sevastova has always played her best tennis at Flushing Meadows, such a run comes as a surprise as she was definitely one of the draw losers when the draw was first published. Sevastova had to battle past Donna Vekic in the first round, then rising talent Claire Liu, upset specialist Ekaterina Makarova, No.7 seed Elina Svitolina and finally Stephens to make it to her first Grand Slam semifinal.

While Stephens’ level was totally affected by the heat in the quarterfinal, Sevastova has always been known to be a mental midget and can really get affected by her emotions on court. So when Stephens won three straight games after Sevastova was leading by a set and 4-1, she definitely could have lost her way from there. Instead, Sevastova broke the American in her next service game and served out the match convincingly afterwards. Sevastova handled the heat excellently which was the key to her huge win – she won’t have to though in the next round where she competes against Serena under the lights on Arthur Ashe Stadium in the biggest match of her career.

Head to head: Surprisingly, the pair will be facing each other for the first time in their careers.

Thoughts: It’s easy to forget that Sevastova had actually retired from the tour once back in 2013. Since returning to the tour in 2015, Sevastova has reached three Grand Slam quarterfinals, a career-high ranking of No.15, and two WTA titles – so impressive! Sevastova’s game is a delight to watch when she’s on fire and can cause problems for Serena if she’s at her best – the drop shots and change of pace will definitely be a good tactic for the Latvian. However, she will definitely have to play the tennis of her life if she is to cause the upset, and Serena has looked so good and secure in her game throughout this whole fortnight. The Serena Serve has been invincible in New York, and I don’t see Sevastova being the one able to break it down. Serena to win in one tight set and one easy set.

Final Prediction: Serena Williams d. Anastasija Sevastova in two sets

Thanks for reading! Check out my US Open predictions here or at the top of the page!

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