By Nick McCarvel
Semifinals Saturday has arrived at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati.
Both the men’s and women’s semifinals are set to be contested in what is a meant to be a memorable day of tennis, featuring the No. 1 women's player in the world, a host of tennis names that have been deep at the biggest events in the game on a consistent basis and several rising stars in the sport.
Here we break down the match-ups at play, with a shot at the championship match on the line.
Karolina Pliskova vs. Garbiñe Muguruza
First match - Noon, Center Court
Not since their first meeting in 2013 has Muguruza beaten Pliskova, the Czech playing going six-for-six since. One of those wins was the semifinal that they played each other in here a year ago, in which eventual champion Pliskova lost just four games. Both women have reason to be tired Saturday: Muguruza has played back-to-back extended three-setters while Pliskova was forced to play over four sets of tennis on Friday after a rain-riddle Thursday night. This will be high-power and high-octane, but Muguruza must serve well to stay with the world No. 1, who the best delivery in the game.
John Isner vs. Grigor Dimitrov
Second match - not before 2pm, Center Court
Both these guys haven’t dropped a set coming into the semifinals, a resurgent run for their up-and-down results so far this season. Isner has reason to be a bit more confident as he’s won their only previous meeting, on a hard court in Miami in 2015. But Dimitrov lost only three games in his quarterfinal and started the year as one of the best on tour.
Simona Halep vs. Sloane Stephens
Third match - not before 4pm, Center Court
Stephens has made her second semifinal in as many weeks and looks back to her old self if not better in just her fourth event after being out for nine months with a foot injury. Halep stepped her game up a level on Friday night, however, winning in straight sets over Johanna Konta. Halep leads this head-to-head 4-2, including a win two weeks ago in D.C., but watch for whoever wins the first set of this one: In their six matches, the first-set winner wins the match.
Nick Kyrgios vs. David Ferrer
First match - evening session - 7pm, Center Court
How about this match-up of differing styles, with the showman in Kyrgios and the consistent workmanship of Ferrer. They've met only once - four years ago at the US Open - so it's hard to take anything away from that straight-set win for Ferrer. But at 35 he is playing inspired tennis, into his first Masters 1000 semi in almost two years. Kyrgios is coming off of an electric win over Nadal and will be the favorite to make his first 1000 final in his burgeoning career.
Women’s Doubles Final
Su-Wei Hsieh/Monica Niculescu vs. Letisha Chan/Martina Hingis
Second match - evening session, Center Court
Hingis just doesn’t stop, does she? With new partner Chan, the 36 year old back in the final here a year after reaching the championships match with CoCo Vandeweghe. The two have won five titles together, and look to add a sixth ahead of the year's final Slam at the US Open. Hsieh/Niculescu won the title in Biel earlier this year, beating Hingis (with a different partner) in the final.