2013 Women’s U.S. Open Tennis Semifinals Betting Preview

2013 Women’s U.S. Open Tennis Semifinals
USTA National Tennis Center – Flushing Meadows, New York

Arthur Ashe Stadium
Playing Surface: DecoTurf (Hard)

Friday, September 6, 2013, 1:45 pm Eastern, TV: CBS
All odds courtesy of 5 Dimes Sportsbook

Serena Williams looks for her fifth U.S. Open title as she takes on Na Li in the semifinals. Victoria Azarenka takes on Flavia Pennetta in the other semifinal.

Serena Williams looks for her fifth U.S. Open title as she takes on Na Li in the semifinals. Victoria Azarenka takes on Flavia Pennetta in the other semifinal.

Three of the four semifinalists on the Women’s side are very familiar with getting this far, and the fourth is making her Grand Slam Semifinal debut. Number one seed Serena Williams will take on #5 seed Na Li in one semifinal and #2 seed Victoria Azarenka will take on unseeded Flavia Pennetta in the first semifinal Friday afternoon. Williams and Azarenka each have grand slams this year, and Li has one in the past. Pennetta has never advanced past the quarters at any Grand Slam event. Three of the four semifinalists are 31, with the exception Azarenka.

Let’s take a look at each match with odds courtesy of 5 Dimes Sportsbooks.

#2 Victoria Azarenka (-450) vs Flavia Pennetta (+360)

Azarenka is 24 from Belarus. She is 36-4 this season with titles at the Australian Open, Doha, and at Cincinnati right before the U.S. Open. She beat Serena Williams in both the finals at Doha and Cincinanti, and Li in the finals of the Australian. Knee and ankle injuries hampered her from February to June, but she did reach the semis at the French Open. She withdrew before her second round match at Wimbledon with a knee injury. Azarenka appears to be getting healthy at the right time. Azarenka has won the Australian Open twice and lost to Serena in the finals of the U.S. Open last year.

Azarenka beat Dinah Pfizenmaier in the first round, Aleksandra Wozniak in the second, #26 Alize Cornet in  the third, #13 Ana Ivanovic in the fourth, and Daniela Hantuchova 6-2, 6-3 in the quarters. Azarenka dropped the first set against Cornet and Ivanovic, but came back in both matches.

Pennetta is 31 from Italy. She seemingly came out of nowhere, as she is 16-17 this season with no wins. In fact her best finish so far in 2013 was a fourth round exit at Wimbledon. Pennetta has made the quarters here 3 times previously but has never made it past the fourth round of any other Grand Slam.

Pennetta beat Nicole Gibbs in the first round here, upset #4 seed Sara Errani in the second, beat #27 Svetlana Kuznetsova in the third, #21 Simona Halep in the fourth round, and upset #10 seed Roberta Vinci in the quarterfinals    6-4, 6-1. Pennetta has not dropped a set and has been taken to a tiebreaker or 7-5 only twice.

This is only the third meeting between Azarenka and Pennetta, with each winning once. They haven’t played since 2011 when Pennetta beat Azarenka in three sets in the round of 16 at Dubai. Azarenka beat her on clay at Stuttgart in 2010.

Pennetta has had a nice run, but to beat a healthy Azarenka at the U.S. Open is asking a lot. Azarenka wins in 2 close sets, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it went all three sets.

#1 Serena Williams (-760) vs #5 Na Li (+530)

Serena Williams is 31 and will turn 32 later this month. Williams is 60-4 this season with 8 titles including her second French Open title. Two of her losses came in the Quarters of the Australian Open to Sloane Stephens when Williams was battling a severely sprained ankle and in the fourth round at Wimbledon when she drew grass court specialist Sabine Lisicki. The other two came to Azarenka in the finals at Doha and Cincinnati. Williams has won 16 majors with 4 U.S. Open titles. Only Margaret Court (24), Steffi Graf (22), Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert (both 18) have more.

Williams beat Francesca Schiavone in the first round, Galina Voskoboeva in the second, Yaroslava Shvedova in the third, #15 Stephens in the fourth, and #18 Carla Suarez-Navarro in the quarters 6-0, 6-0. It was the first time since 1989 that a women’s grand slam quarterfinal was decided love and love. Williams has not dropped a set so far and has only lost 13 games. In fact, Serena has four 6-0 and three 6-1 sets so far in the U.S. Open. Only Stephens won as many as 4 games in a set.

Na Li is 31 from China, She is 32-11 this season with a title at Shenzhen. She was the runner up to Azarenka in the Australian Open, lost in the second at the French, and reached the quarters at Wimbledon. Li won the French in 2011 for her only major title. She had never advanced past the quarters here before this year.

Li beat Olga Govortsova in the first round, Sofia Arviddson in the second, #30 Lara Robson in the third, #9 Jelena Jankovic in the fourth, and #24 Ekatrina Makarova 6-4, 6-7 (7-5), 6-2. The tiebreaker to Makarova is the only set Li has lost so far.

Like most people Serena has played consistently, Williams owns a winning record against Li. Williams is 8-1 against Li in their careers. Serena has beaten Li 7 straight times dating back to 2008 on all surfaces. In fact Serena has not dropped a set to her since 2009.  However, Serena has had at least one 7-5 or tiebreaker set in every match against Li since 2009. Williams beat Li in the quarters at Miami this season on hard courts 6-3, 7-6 (7-5) and also in the semis at Cincinnati on hard courts 7-5, 7-5 two weeks ago.

The question isn’t if Serena will win, but only if Li will actually break through and win a set. She has come close on numerous occasions, but I just think Serena is so motivated to get to at least 18 majors to tie Navaratilova and Evert, that she is able to hold off Li in two tight sets.

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