Semifinal Saturday Preview

The men’s and women’s singles draws are down to four players apiece, and the stakes are as high as the upper deck on our sparkling new South Building. Here’s a little background on the semifinal matchups:

 

11:00 am

[1] Ashleigh Barty vs. [WC] Svetlana Kuznetsova

In a battle of youth versus experience, who wins? We’ll find out on Saturday when 23-year-old Aussie Ashleigh Barty takes on 34-year-old Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova for the first time. Kuznetsova earned most of her success over a decade ago, capturing the US Open title in 2004 and the Roland Garros title in 2009, but has returned as fit as she’s ever been following a wrist injury last fall. She needed every bit of that fitness to beat No. 3 seed Karolina Pliskova in the quarterfinals.

 

Top-seeded Barty had some trouble of her own in the quarters, dropping the first set to Maria Sakkari, before finding her rhythm. She explained after the match that even when she’s down, she is able to rely on her training to stay calm.

 

“There is certainly no panic where it gets to the stage where overwrought or can't think straight,” Barty said. “I'm still able to, more than times than not, have the ability to relax and kind of stay clear and come back to what works.”

 

Not before 1:00 pm

[16] David Goffin vs. Richard Gasquet

David Goffin has split his two past meetings with Richard Gasquet, but one thing is for sure – he will be more rested than his French opponent on Saturday. Goffin received a quarterfinal walkover after Yoshihito Nishioka was forced to withdraw due to illness. The 28-year-old Belgian will be playing in his second straight Western & Southern Open semifinal – and looking for his first spot in a Masters 1000 final – when he takes Stadium Court against 33-year-old Gasquet.

 

Gasquet, who will be playing in his first Masters 1000 semifinal since 2013, is working his way back from a groin injury at the end of last season. He knows he has his work cut out for him.

 

“[Goffin] doesn’t miss,” he said. “He’s playing fast, especially with the backhand. It will be a tough battle for me. It’s the semis. I have nothing to lose, so I try my best.”

 

Not before 3:00 pm

[16] Madison Keys vs. Sofia Kenin

With Sofia Kenin’s win over Naomi Osaka, fans in Cincinnati were guaranteed at least one American in Western & Southern Open final. If 20-year-old Kenin has her way, she’ll oust Keys for the second time this year to earn her shot at a first Premier 5 title. Kenin upset Keys, 24, earlier this year in three sets on the clay in Rome, and remembers the moment vividly.

 

“It was obviously pretty dramatic,” she said. “Atmosphere was unreal there. It was so good. It’s going to be a tough one. She’s playing well, and I have a lot of respect for her.”

 

Keys, a former US Open finalist and world No. 7, hadn’t won two matches in a row since May coming into Cincinnati this week, but with wins over Garbine Muguruza, Simona Halep and Venus Williams, she certainly seems to have hit her stride.

 

Not before 6:00 pm

[1] Novak Djokovic vs. Daniil Medvedev

It would be easy to call Daniil Medvedev unstoppable – if he weren’t facing against defending champion Novak Djokovic. The 23-year-old Russian has won 42 matches so far this year, which is more than any other player on tour. Currently sitting at his career-high rank of No. 8 in the world, he has a 1-4 record against Djokovic – but he won their most recent meeting on clay this spring.

 

“I think [Djokovic] probably wants his revenge, wants to show he’s the No. 1 in the world, which he is,” Medvedev said after his quarterfinal win over Rublev. “As I say, no matter who I play, it's going to be a great semifinal.”

 

Djokovic took out Frenchman Lucas Pouille 7-6(2), 6-1 under the lights Friday, and will be looking for 12 straight match win.

 

The men’s doubles semis and women’s doubles final will also take place on Saturday. See the full order of play here.

 

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