Super Saturday: Semis Offer Storylines Aplenty
By: Nick McCarvel
In five previous appearances at the Volvo Car Open, Sloane Stephens had won just one match. This week on Daniel Island, the 23-year-old American has been victorious three times. Saturday she’d like to make it a fourth.
Stephens, the No. 7 seed, has a tall task in top seed and defending champion Angelique Kerber. The two meet at 1pm in the first of two semifinals. The match will be aired on ESPN2.
No. 5 seed Sara Errani will take on qualifier Elena Vesnina, a former top 25 player who made the final here in 2011.
All eyes will be on Kerber and Stephens as they take to the court, the two having faced off just twice before, splitting the two meetings. The most recent came last year in Indian Wells, when Stephens won in straight sets.
Since then, Kerber’s career has skyrocketed. She won here, the first of four 2015 titles, then won her maiden Grand Slam trophy at the Australian Open in January, launching her to world No. 2.
Stephens, herself, has found a bevy of success in the last year, winning not only her first WTA title (last summer in Washington, DC), but two more this year.
Neither player is taking the other lightly, of course.
“She’s playing well,” Stephens said of the German. “She's obviously a Grand Slam champion now, so it's going to be difficult. But I’m looking forward to it, just looking forward to getting out there and competing. I'm excited for that.”
Vesnina is excited about her run here – the best since 2011 – and feels as though she’s playing some of her best tennis again. She’ll need it against Errani, a clay court specialist who won their only meeting in Budapest in 2012.
“It’s another tough match,” said Errani, who has made the semifinals here for the first time in her career.
The doubles semifinals features a host of familiar names, including American Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Lucie Safarova against another American in Vania King and her partner, Alla Kudryavtseva.
The second semi features No. 3 seeds Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic vs. Anna-Lena Groenefeld and Laura Siegemund.
Fans who have tickets for Saturday night get to witness men’s tennis returning to Daniel Island for the first time since 2004: The PowerShares Series comes to town, featuring Andre Agassi, Andy Roddick, James Blake and Mardy Fish in a one-night, quick-format tournament. Tickets are still available.