Today was semifinals day at the tournaments this week but first I would like to apologise for not posting over the past two days but I had a busy weekend. My feature match was in Washington as Kei Nishikori came up against young gun Alexander Zverev for a place in the final.
In the first semifinal of the Stanford event, Coco Vandeweghe got past Stanford homegirl Catherine Bellis 6-3, 6-1 in a dominant performance. Vandeweghe was just too powerful and aggressive for Bellis in the end and it was always going to be tough for Bellis to back up such a dominant win over Kvitova in the quarterfinals. Bellis came out with some nerves and hesitation as she was broken to start the match and then she went down a double break to trail 5-1. Bellis showed some resistance when Vandeweghe attempted to serve out the first set as she got her only break of the match to get back to 5-3. It only delayed Vandegwhe because at the next time of asking she served out the set without much trouble. Bellis held in her first service game of the second set but that was it for the young 17 year-old as Vandeweghe won the next five games of the match to reach her second Stanford Classic final. It will take a lot to stop Vandeweghe the way she is playing and normally when she gets into these kind of match streaks not many people are able to stop her.
In the first women’s Washington semifinal Ekaterina Makarova made her first final of the season with a tough 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 win over Oceane Dodin. Both of the women put a lot of power in the shots and go for broke in most of the points so it was bound to be a tight match with a lot of momentum swings. Dodin was very impressive in the opener as she broke Makarova twice and saved all three break points she faced and it didn’t look like there would be much that Makarova could do if the Frenchwoman continued playing like that. Lucky for Makarova, Dodin wasn’t able to keep playing like that and the Russian started playing better. She got the single break of the second set to lead 4-2. which led both women really wanted to win that third set and make it to the final but, as with every match, there could only be one winner. Makarova went up a break midway through the decider but Dodin managed to fight back to level the match at 4-4. Dodin started to tense up and Makarova kept swinging to get the break and then serve out the match. This is such a good result for Makarova who hasn’t had the best time recently as it was her first quarterfinal of the season this week and tomorrow will be her first final in over three years.
The second Stanford semifinal saw Madison Keys reach her first final of the season after an injury-filled start with a 6-3, 6-2 win over recent Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza. Keys played a really solid match and even though Muguruza definitely wasn’t playing as well as she had earlier in the week the Amercian deserved the win. The pair exchanged breaks to start the match and then they were neck and neck until 3-3 in the opener. Keys then reeled off three straight games dropping just two points in those games to take the opening set in some of the best tennis we have seen from her this year. Muguruza was never able to find her footing in the second set and Keys stayed consistent and hard-hitting as she broke Muguruza a further three times to take the match. This is a really good win for Keys and, even if she loses tomorrow, this could be the match that will kick start her season. She will take a lot of confidence into the rest of the US hard court season and who knows what she could achieve with such an open field.
My feature match saw Kei Nishikori struggle with what appeared to be some kind of stomach injury and general fatigue as he went out to Alexander Zverev 6-3, 6-4. I was surprised at how close Nishikori was able to keep it because he wasn’t able to move very well and he wasn’t able to achieve as much pop on his serve as usual but a lot of the credit has to go to Zverev for a very solid match. Nishikori went out to a very slow start as he only won a point in the first three games of the set which gave Zverev a 3-0 lead with the break. There were no breaks in the set but Zverev was always firmly in control and had a few more opportunities to break Nishikori. Both men were able to stay quite solid on serve in the second but Zverev was still the more dominant as the German didn’t face a break point in the set and Nishikori was broken at 1-1, from which he wasn’t able to recover. Zverev will now go for his fourth title of the season against Kevin Anderson, which he will fancy his chances in.