Thursday night sees the women take centre stage on Arthur Ashe Stadium, with both semi-finals taking place in the evening session. Elina Svitolina seeks to make it an all-new finalist lineup but there will be at least one player in their first slam final with Belinda Bencic and Bianca Andreescu facing off for a spot in Saturday’s final in the second match.
Five years after her first US Open, Bencic has gone at least one better than that initial quarter-final run with a spot in the final four. Bencic beat Donna Vekic in a high quality match from the pair, hitting 20 winners in the 7-6 6-3 win. It wasn’t all straight forward as she would have to break to stay in the first set and also bounce back from blowing set points just before the first set tiebreak. The serve remained key for both players but more so Bencic who lost just two points on first serve in the second set, ensuring her winning percentage on first serve remained above an impressive 80% for the match. “I worked hard for this – it’s not like I never imagined I could do this,” said Bencic afterwards. “What I love most is definitely the competition, these type of matches. Yeah, that feeling right after you do the match point is the nicest one.”
Andreescu once again went three sets, needing to come from behind to beat Elise Mertens 3-6 6-2 6-3. The Canadian is one of the most intelligent players on the tour and once again altered tactics against her unheralded opponent. “I tried to stay more aggressive than the first set, and I felt like I was missing a lot in the first set, as well.” the Canadian said. “I saw that [Mertens] was picking on my backhand a lot, so I tried to go more down the line with my backhand so she can go back to my forehand, so I can use my forehand, because I like my forehand,” Andreescu continued, with a smile. “She executed some good tactics in the first set. I just told myself to just keep fighting and to not give up. That was the main thing.”
“I think it will be an entertaining match with lots of long rallies. For sure, Andreescu has a lot of variation in her game.” Bencic said when analysing her potential opponents. While both women have big titles and a whole host of name scalps between them, it will be fascinating to see how they cope with the pressure when the final is staring them in the face.
Prediction – Bianca Andreescu in three sets