Angelique Kerber  v Roberta Vinci  – H2H: 2-2
There is a steely determination to Kerber since the start of this year. Much is made of her end of season ‘worrit’ where she fell apart at the pressure of having to win a single set to make the 2015 WTA Finals, she vowed never t let the pressure get to her.
Of course we press love nothing better than reminding her of it but she has an air of swagger about her, and even though she fell short against Karolina Pliskova in the Cincinnati final that would have secured her the No. 1 spot, she is still a clear and present danger in that race.
Her progress here has been actually been pretty breezy. She has not dropped a set yet, and weathered a pretty good fight against Petra Kvitova in a battle of the lefties.
She will face last year’s finalist who plays down all talk of retirement and the need to defend last year’s points in much the same way as Kerber has had to deflect all talk about securing the World No. 1 spot.
This could be Kerber’s toughest test yet. Vinci’s unorthodox slicing and dicing will make her move and run – something that Kerber can do all the live long day. The one thing that stood out from her new aggressive approach is that she also knew she had to stay true to her trademark ability to grind the other player into the dust.
Do not underestimate Vinci either. She has come through a couple of tough matches, and dropped set against Lesia Tsurenko but is quietly going about her business, knowing that she is not expected to match her amazing run of last year, thus freeing herself up to do just that!
This should be a great match, but even if it teases us with three sets, Kerber looks to be just a little too formidable.
Prediction: Kerber in three sets.
Caroline Wozniacki v Anastasija Sevastova – H2H: Wozniacki leads 2-0
There is resurgence, and there is resurgence! For Wozniacki, injuries have made this year a patchwork with a gaping hole where the clay court season should have been. Mind you given that is one surface the Dane seems to struggle with. She managed to string a couple of matches together at Eastbourne on her return, but had a disappointing Wimbledon going out in the first round against Svetlana Kuznetsova – but revenge was sweet, coming from 0-4 down to win in straight sets.
Her confidence is returning and that was evident in her fourth round match against Madison Keys. The American was widely tipped to be a viable Dark Horse, but Wozniacki’s ability to switch from defence to attack made her look like a petulant pit pony.
The same could be said for Sevastova – her back story is compelling. Retiring in 2013, tired of the grind and the injuries, and returning in 2015, winding up from unranked to just outside the Top 100, and now is just inside the Top 50.
She unravelled Britain’s Johanna Konta in fine style, mixing up pace and depth and leaving the Brit looking all at sea – but she did look vulnerable any time Konta brought her into the net. Wozniacki will need to be at her retrieving best.
Sevastova really impressed with her lateral court coverage – she seemed everywhere at once, so again we can expect a long grind here, but Wozniacki has the experience. Sevastova at times looked as though any miss was the equivalent of someone shooting her puppy. We suspect she is like that all the time rather than just the enormity of the achievement here in New Work, but Wozniacki is the kind of player who can easily frustrate and she will need to be able to manage those emotions.
Expect a canny battle.
Prediction: Caroline Wozniacki in three sets.
Kerber and Vinci are scheduled first on Arthur Ashe at 12pm (5pm BST), with Wozniacki and Sevastova the first night match, at 7pm (midnight, 6 September BST).
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