US Open quarters: Azarenka encounters Halep, Kvitova plays Pennetta


Although yet another battle between the Williams sisters on home soil is the undisputed highlight of the US Open women’s singles quarter-finals, there’s also an intriguing encounter between two-time Australian Open champ Victoria Azarenka and former French Open runner-up Simona Halep.

The ladies’ section is completed by double Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova, 6/1 with Coral for a third Grand Slam of her career at Flushing Meadows, playing Italian hard court specialist Flavia Pennetta on Wednesday night/Thursday morning UK time.

Can any of these top WTA pros stop world number one Serena Williams completing a calendar year Grand Slam? Only time will tell…

Belarus’ best sporting export Azarenka is rated the woman most likely to stop Serena reigning supreme in 2015 at 4/1 to take the US Open title for the first time, but must first tackle a considerable hurdle in Halep.

Two previous head-to-heads, both on hard surfaces, went in Azarenka’s favour, so she starts as a firm odds-on 4/9 match favourite. Halep is the second seed, however, and a highly consistent performer on the circuit. Punters concerned by her early Wimbledon exit during the grass part of the season can put it down as an aberration.

At a superb 7/4 to finally get one over Azarenka, Romanian racket star Halep is well worth considering. Both ladies have dropped just one set en route to the quarters, so this looks like being a close call.

Straight sets wins are how Azarenka has humbled Halep in the past, but this has the makings of going the distance. Take 11/4 if you fancy the former for a 2-1 victory, or 4/1 on the latter.

It’s three wins apiece from previous encounters between top Czech Republic tennis player Kvitova and Pennetta. Despite there being nothing to choose between them in history, there is a huge experience advantage at the business end of Grand Slams in the former’s favour.

That is why Kvitova is odds-on 1/3 match favourite, plus the fact she has won the only meeting at a major tournament and last time they played at the London Olympics. Pennetta is on her favoured surface, though, and is 12/5 to upset the fifth seed.

A repeat result from their 2011 Australian Open encounter, 2-1 to Kvitova, is well worth considering again at 11/4.

Coral’s top tip: Take those 11/4 prices on victories in three sets for Azarenka and Kvitova, which should set up an absorbing semi-final between them.

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