Technically, there are four competitors remaining on the women’s side of the 2015 U.S. Open as Thursday’s semifinals approach. In reality, this is a one-person show, and tennis fans all over the world are along for the ride.
Serena Williams is arguably the most dominant force in all of sports, and she is two victories away from completing the calendar Grand Slam. She has owned the Flushing Meadows location throughout her career, and it only seems fitting the American will likely make history on her home country’s turf.
While fans and commentators can afford to look ahead to a potential monumental championship, Williams must focus on the semifinals. With that in mind, here is a look at the schedule and predictions for Thursday’s showdowns.
The complete broadcast schedule can be found here, courtesy of USOpen.org.
|Date||Time (ET)||Channel||Live Stream|
|Thursday, Sept. 10||7 p.m. - 11 p.m.||ESPN||WatchESPN|
|(1) Serena Williams vs. Roberta Vinci||Williams|
|(26) Flavia Pennetta vs. (2) Simona Halep||Halep|
Predicted Champion: Serena Williams
It’s not exactly going out on a limb to predict Williams as the eventual champion, but it is nearly impossible to envision anyone else taking home the title.
If Williams wins, she will become the first player to win a calendar Grand Slam since Steffi Graf did so in 1988. It would also be Williams’ fifth straight major title and the 22nd of her illustrious career. She already completed the “Serena Slam” since she currently holds all four Grand Slam titles, but this would put her in the discussion for best female athlete of all time.
Adam Schein of SiriusXM believes Williams is already there, per CBS Sports Network:
The tangible skills are evident every time she takes the court. She overpowers opponents with her serve, has the resiliency to bounce back almost every time she falls behind and admirably plays her best tennis when the stakes are highest. Even with all that talent, all it would take is one slip-up during the year to lose the Grand Slam dream, which makes this run all the more incredible.
Her coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, suggested as much, per Howard Fendrich of the Associated Press (via the Washington Post):
When she’s playing good, her level is above the other players, which everybody agrees on. You have to be able to maintain consistency during all four Grand Slams, every single match, because all the girls play her so hard, every single time. She has to dig deep. Even though you’re dominant, you have to overcome a lot of things to win one Grand Slam, so four in a row says much about how incredible she is mentally.
Williams still must win two matches before accomplishing the feat, but this is familiar territory for her. The other three semifinalists cannot say the same, as ESPN Stats & Info highlighted:
The familiarity with this pressure should help Williams establish a comfort level over the other players. She should also draw confidence from the fact that she is 6-1 against Simona Halep, 4-0 against Roberta Vinci and 7-0 against Flavia Pennetta, per WTATennis.com.
In theory, Halep is the biggest threat to Williams in the field as the No. 2 seed. However, to say Williams owns Halep on the court is an understatement with that record. It is easy to point to the 6-1 mark and suggest Williams represents something of a mental block for Halep, but the American is just that good.
She typically brings her best tennis to the biggest matches, and any showdown with Halep qualifies as just that. It’s more of a case of Williams being nearly unbeatable than any particular fault with Halep.
Williams just beat Halep in straight sets in the finals of the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati with 15 aces. There is nothing in the head-to-head history between these two competitors that suggests we would see a different result if they meet in the U.S. Open finals.
Outside of the talent and experience advantages for Williams, she also boasts an impressive track record of success at this tournament with her home-country fans behind her on one of tennis’ biggest stages. The American counts six U.S. Open titles on her resume, including the last three, and the fans who want to see history will be firmly in her corner during the semifinals.
Williams has once again been her typical dominant self in this year’s tournament. She only dropped two sets on the way to the semifinals, and, per USOpen.org, she has 38 total aces and won at least 77 percent of her first-service points in each match, including three where she won more than 80 percent and one where she won 93 percent.
She also already beat her older sister, Venus Williams, in a match dangerous because of the family dynamic and how familiar they are with each other, which ESPN Stats & Info noted is bad news for rest of field:
Williams now remains in a bracket with three other women who she has experienced little trouble with throughout her career. Look for the American superstar to etch her name in history Saturday night with a calendar Grand Slam in front of a raucous home crowd.