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Friday, 6 September 2013

US Open Day 12 Picks- Women's Semi Finals 2013 (September 6th)

We now have the final four competitors in both the men's and women's events as Novak Djokovic completed the line up in the night session on Thursday and it does seem that we are set for two Finals involving the Number 1 and Number 2 seed in both draws.

There are still a couple of players that will feel they can certainly upset that idea over the next couple of days, but it would still be a real surprise if we don't see the top two seeds in both draws competing in the Finals on Sunday and Monday.

Andy Murray was the latest surprise exit in the tournament and while it was known that Stanislas Wawrinka is a dangerous competitor that could push the World Number 3, there wouldn't have been many people out there that backed the Swiss man to win in the dominant straight sets we saw.

The suggestion is that Murray has been feeling a little flat since winning Wimbledon, which is perfectly understandable considering the pressure that was on him to end the British wait for a home male winner in SW19, However, Murray has never hidden his desire to become the World Number 1 and that means he has to find a way to deal with going into that tournament next year as the defending Champion, and also for motivating himself to search for more major titles.

He will certainly be back in contention for the majors next season and, outside of the French Open, I would expect Murray to compete for the title at those events. I have always said he would find it difficult to get to the World Number 1 position because, unlike Novak Djokovic or Rafael Nadal, Murray certainly finds it tougher to motivate himself for the lesser tournaments on the Tour which make up the difference in points between himself and the top spot.

I'm not going to criticise Andy Murray for losing at the Quarter Final stage at Slam level, particularly after the form he has shown in the last eighteen months, although it was a disappointing end to the first defence of a Grand Slam title he has been through.

On Friday, the US Open have changed their scheduling from recent years and the two women's Semi Finals will be played ahead of the Final on Sunday. In previous years, the Final would have been played on Saturday night for the 'Super Saturday' television coverage, but it has been realised that it was always a lot to ask of players that made this tournament decider and the change to the men's Final, which is now a Monday, meant that penultimate day of the US Open could be reserved for the women's Final.

We have two fairly big favourites in the Semi Final today as both Victoria Azarenka and Serena Williams will be expected to come through and meet in the Final for the second year in succession and it is hard to argue with that.

Victoria Azarenka - 5.5 games v Flavia Pennetta: This is the first Grand Slam Semi Final that Flavia Pennetta has ever competed in and that could certainly make her nervous considering the Italian came back from a long lay off from the Tour earlier this year.

Pennetta has been in good form in the last couple of weeks and she has won some big matches during her run to the Semi Final here. However, Victoria Azarenka is a step up from the level she has faced so far, even taking into account the disposal of the in-form Simona Halep in the Fourth Round.

The only issue for this spread is that Victoria Azarenka has been serving poorly in her last two matches and that could give Pennetta some hope in that she can make a match of this. The Italian is very comfortable off the ground and the hard courts clearly suit her very well so I don't think this will be easy for Azarenka.

In saying that, I do think nerves could play a part early in the match and give Azarenka the room to surpass the spread, perhaps winning the first set 62, before a much more competitive second set which may end 64 for the World Number 2.

Na Li + 5.5 games v Serena Williams: Three weeks ago, Serena Williams took on Na Li in Cincinnati and I picked the Chinese woman to make a match of things and keep things close with a spread similar to this one.

Li didn't serve well in her Quarter Final win over Ekaterina Makarova and that has to be a concern when coming up against someone as good as Serena Williams who also won't offer too many chances on her own serve.

The rest of the tournament has been much better in the serving statistics for Li and she will have plenty of memories of pushing Serena in matches, even if she hasn't had enough to come through and win those matches. She is mature and experienced having won a Grand Slam title and reached the Final of a couple of others, so Li shouldn't be overwhelmed by having to face Serena like a lot of the American's opponents can be.

Li has the power and the accuracy with her groundstrokes to make hay in this one and she could give Serena all she can handle yet again, although I would still expect Williams to reach her third Final in a row in New York with a 75, 63 win.

MY PICKS: Victoria Azarenka - 5.5 Games @ 2.25 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Na Li + 5.5 Games @ 2.10 Stan James (2 Units)

US Open Update: 28-35, - 6.72 Units (105 Units Staked, - 6.4% Yield)

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