Super Saturday at Volvo Car Open

A lively week of tennis, marked by upsets, challenging conditions and new contenders, has reached the business end. Here’s a look at Saturday’s singles and doubles semis. 

Singles semifinal #1 – 1:00 p.m., Volvo Car Stadium 
Daria Kasatkina vs. Laura Siegemund
– first WTA meeting (Kasatkina leads 2-0 at ITF events)

Two unseeded players have lit up Charleston.  Winner of the Roland Garros junior title in 2014, nineteen-year-old Daria Kasatkina certainly feels comfortable on clay – reaching the quarters here last year.  Now a year later, she’s taken her run to greater heights, her four victims including Olympic gold medalist Monica Puig, ninth-seeded Daria Gavrilova and tenth-seeded Irina-Camelia Begu.

Also a quarterfinalist here in 2016, the 29-year-old Laura Siegemund has stepped up, putting her psychology degree to use with first-rate composure and adroit tactics to earn wins over 2004 Volvo Car Open champion Venus Williams, 2015 Roland Garros runner-up Lucie Safarova and No. 8 seed Anastasija Sevastova.

Singles semifinal #2 – Second On, Volvo Car Stadium
Jelena Ostapenko  vs. Mirjana Lucic-Baroni (No. 11 seed)
– Ostapenko leads 1-0 (’17 Auckland 3rd rd., 6-2, 7-6)

No matter the victory, it’s a great story.  Nineteen-year-old Jelena Ostapenko is making her Volvo Car Open debut and has wowed Charleston and the world with powerful groundstrokes and steely concentration.  All was richly on display last night when she beat 2011 Volvo Car Open champion Caroline Wozniacki.

To say 35-year-old Mirjana Lucic-Baroni’s career has been a roller-coaster is an understatement.  In 1997, she finished the year ranked No. 52 in the world.  Then came injuries and family complications.  By 2007, her rank had sunk to  No. 454.  Since then she’s roared back, kicking off a resurgent 2017 with a semifinal run at the Australian Open and is now ranked No. 23.  

Doubles semifinals

Both doubles semis also figure to be quite lively.  Action begins with the number one team in the world, versatile Bethanie Mattek-Sands and smooth lefty, Lucie Safarova, up against two highly-experienced veterans, Anna-Lena Groenefeld and Kveta Peschke. Look for plenty of intriguing rallies in this one.   

Semifinal two pits the Cinderella team, Raquel Atawo, a 34-year-old American, and Jelena Ostapenko, seeking to reach two finals on the same day.  In the quarters, Atawo-Ostapenko upset second-seeded Sania Mirza and Andrea Hlavackova.  Their opponents are a pair of savvy Czechs, fourth-seeded Katerina Siniakova and Lucie Hradecka.  Neither team has lost a set all week.