The reasons for Serena Williams playing this tournament in Bastad are still a mystery, but she appears to be cruising through the draw. She has dropped just ten games in her three matches so far, but her results are certainly not representative of her performances. Her first two matches were very poor, particularly against Anna Tatishvili where she was broken three times. She seems to be lacking focus and almost appearing bored at times, and it is this mental side that could potentially be her downfall. Having said that, she is currently on a 26-match winning streak on clay and it would be a huge surprise if she does not lift the title here.
Klara Zakopalova has found some form recently after a disappointing 2013 so far. A semi-final run in Palermo was only halted by Sara Errani and she is yet to drop a set this week, although her run has been rather straightforward. Wins over Ellen Allgurin, Arantxa Parra Santonja and Richel Hogenkamp are nothing to get overly excited about, but they have all been achieved in a very professional manner. While there is plenty of room for improvement, wins breeds confidence and she will need all that and more if she is to get a result against Serena.
They have played three times before with the H2H 2-1 in favour of Serena. Serena won their first meeting way back in 2003, before they split their two meetings in 2009 with Klara winning in Marbella and Serena winning at the French Open.
What They Said
“The wind was an issue, but I managed to adjust. It should be a good match against Zakopalova in the next round” – Serena Williams following her 6-1, 6-1 win over Lourdes Dominguez Lino
“She’s playing so well and really deserves to be number one. I know some things though. I have to move her as much as I can. My serve has to be more solid than it has been. I’ll just give my 100%. I have nothing to lose” – Klara Zakopalova on facing Serena Williams.
As poorly as Serena has been playing, she has still dismantled her three opponents in this tournament. She will have to play better against Zakopalova, but it is tough to really see the Czech having the ability and mental toughness to beat Serena. Her only previous win against her came in Marbella when Serena clearly had no interest in being there though, so maybe history could repeat itself.
The Rest of the Matches
The other semi-final sees home favourite Johanna Larsson against Flavia Pennetta. The Italian beat her opponent earlier in the year in Miami and while this should be a close encounter, I would expect Pennetta to come through in the end.
Two unlikely semi-finals as Andrea Hlavackova faces Elina Svitolina and Yvonne Meusburger faces Karin Knapp. Knapp was a surprisingly easy winner over Annika Beck and is in great form, but her Austrian opponent is also fresh of a run to the final in Budapest. Fatigue may be an issue and I fancy the Italian to progress. The other semi-final sees a first chance for the young Ukrainian, Elina Svitolina, to reach a WTA final. I expect her to make it as long as nerves don’t affect her. She should have enough to overcome Hlavackova, who has made hard work of her run so far.