Saturday brought semifinal showdowns in both the singles and doubles draw at the 2015 Bank of the West Classic in Stanford, but there was a distinct lack of drama, even with the high stakes.
All four matches ended in straight sets, and not a single one went longer than 80 minutes. Karolina Pliskova and Angelique Kerber took care of business on the singles side, while the Yi-Fan Xu and Saisai Zheng team and Anabel Medina Garrigues and Arantxa Parra Santonja team won in the doubles draw.
Here is a look at Saturday’s full results and Sunday’s upcoming schedule:
|Bank of the West Classic 2015: Saturday Results|
|Singles||(4) Karolina Pliskova||Varvara Lepchenko||6-2, 7-5|
|Singles||(5) Angelique Kerber||(8) Elina Svitolina||6-3, 6-1|
|Doubles||Yi-Fan Xu, Saisai Zheng||Kateryna Bondarenko, Tatjana Maria||6-2, 6-4|
|Doubles||(2) Anabel Medina Garrigues, Arantxa Parra Santonja||(3) Gabriela Dabrowski, Alicja Rosolska||6-3, 6-2|
|Bank of the West Classic 2015: Sunday Schedule|
|Singles||Karolina Pliskova||Angelique Kerber||5 p.m.|
|Doubles||Yi-Fan Xu, Saisai Zheng||(2) Anabel Medina Garrigues, Arantxa Parra Santonja||Following|
Varvara Lepchenko was the lone American remaining in the field and even beat top-seeded Caroline Wozniacki Thursday. Alas, her momentum was short-lived Saturday, when she ran into the fourth-seeded Pliskova.
Pliskova tallied five aces to Lepchenko’s zero on the way to her 6-2, 7-5 victory. What’s more, Lepchenko double-faulted on five different occasions and never established any type of momentum throughout the match.
It wasn’t just the aces that proved to be the difference. Pliskova won an astounding 80 percent of her first-service points (29-of-36), while Lepchenko only won 51 percent. It is simply too difficult to beat a top-notch player with only a 51 percent mark on first-service points, and that was quite clear by the end of the match.
Pliskova also took full advantage of her opportunities during Lepchenko’s serves and won four of five potential break points. The victor seemed pleased after the match:
Elsewhere, No. 5 seed Kerber made quick work of No. 8 seed Elina Svitolina in the other singles match on the way to a 6-3, 6-1 victory that lasted a mere 55 minutes. The victory clinched a second straight appearance in the Bank of the West Classic final for Kerber, although she lost last year to the dominant Serena Williams.
Nobody made much noise in the ace department Saturday, with Svitolina notching two aces and Kerber only finishing with one.
However, the difference in the match came on first-service points. Kerber won an impressive 63 percent of hers, while Svitolina only cashed in on an abysmal 33 percent. It proved to be the major reason why the match went by so quickly, especially since Kerber was a perfect 6-of-6 on break points against Svitolina’s lackluster service attacks.
It sets up an intriguing final matchup between the Nos. 4 and 5 seeds, as WTA Insider noted:
Fortunately for both finalists, Serena Williams is nowhere to be found in this year’s bracket.
Kerber holds the slight 3-2 edge in head-to-head matchups, per WTATennis.com, although Pliskova has won two of the past three showdowns. Pliskova also won their last clash on a hard surface, which is exactly what they will play on Sunday, with the Bank of the West Classic title hanging in the balance.
One key to the match will be which player takes advantage of important break opportunities. They combined for an impressive 10-of-11 mark on break points in their respective semifinal showdowns Saturday and never let their opponents back into the contests.
Although Kerber controlled her match without tallying many aces Saturday, thanks to those breaks, she recognized the importance of the serve when she praised her opponent in the upcoming final, per the event’s official Twitter page:
There is a reason Pliskova earned that praise. She boasts an impressive serve and finished Saturday with five aces and an 80 percent mark on her first-service points. What’s more, she won the last match on hard surface against Kerber in straight sets (6-3, 6-2) behind an impressive seven aces and sparkling 97 percent mark on her first-service points.
It is simply impossible to ignore the way Pliskova controlled the last head-to-head showdown with Kerber on a hard surface with her serve. She will do the same Sunday and take home the Bank of the West Classic title.
Prediction: Pliskova wins 6-4, 6-4
*Match Stats are courtesy of WTATennis.com.