The Bank of the Wet semifinals are set, and it promises to be a good day of tennis in spite of the withdrawals and upsets. Match picks are always tricky, but I’ll toss my hat into the ring anyway for these two. Let’s take a closer look at these match-ups to see why I’m looking at a Sorana-Jamie final.
Dominika Cibulkova  v Sorana Cirstea
H2H: Dominika leads 2-1
There’s a bit of déjà vu in this match owing to the fact that their last meeting was at last year’s Bank of the West in the quarterfinals. That match, won by Cirstea 6-7(7) 6-2 6-0, was a 3-set battle that lasted almost 2.5 hours.
Dominika started the match strong then hit the proverbial wall after winning the first set tiebreaker. It’s surprising that a player with such tremendous fight was bageled in the third set (after winning the first). But in many ways it speaks volumes about Sorana, and her ability to stay focused on the win after the loss of a tight set.
In a match between two great fighters with strong, the winner will most likely be decided by the ability to hold serve, or break your opponent’s serve. This bodes well for Sorana, who served at 52%, had 15 aces (against 3 double faults), won 77% of her first serve points, and 66% of her second serve points.
By contrast, the barely 5′ 3″ Dominika (yes, her height makes a difference) served at 39%, had 1 ace (against 5 double faults), won only 65% of her first serves, and 44% of her second serves. Neither served “well”, but the smaller Dominika struggled considerably more to make an impact with her serve, and was still broken 6 times in spite of her best efforts.
Not much has changed in either of their games to stop a similar outcome in their semifinal. Dominika will again fight hard, but will likely lose another 3-setter. Hopefully, this time without a third set bagel!
Sorana in three sets.
Agnieszka Radwanska  v Jamie Hampton
H2H: Aga leads 4-1
These two have met twice in 2013, and split wins with Aga winning on a hard court in Auckland 7-6(4) 7-6(3), and Jamie winning on the grass of Eastbourne 7-6(2) 6-2. Even if you discount Jamie’s victory on grass, this semifinal offers her an excellent chance to reach her first Stanford final. But execution will be the key to her victory.
The stats from Auckland show that Jamie didn’t serve quite as well as Aga, yet still managed to have a chance in the tiebreakers. So if she can bump up her first serve percentage, and also bump up her percentage of points won on first serve, that could make a huge difference in holding serve versus the 3 breaks of serve she faced in that match.
Jamie will also need to keep her unforced error count low. Her unforced error count against Nicole Gibbs defense was off the charts, and that definitely won’t cut it against a relatively error-free player like Aga.
Pace of shot won’t be a factor in this match, because Aga is one of the best at using an opponent’s pace to her own advantage. More important than pace, however, will be Jamie’s ability to stay patient in rallies. That will allow her to stay in points long enough to hit as many shots as needed to wear down Aga and win the point.
Aga was on court a long time in her quarterfinal with Varvara Lepchenko, but that shouldn’t matter. She’s used to playing long matches on successive days. The bigger issue for Aga is whether she can rediscover a sense of comfort on the stadium court that was absent against Varvara. If she struggles for her range against a confident Jamie, as she did against Varvara, she’ll get punished.
So who’s going to come out on top? Well, anything can happen in a tournament that’s been as wacky as this one. But I’ll take my chances with the increasingly confident power game of Hampton over the slightly unsettled game of Radwanska.
Jamie for the win (two or three)