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US Open quarters: Azarenka encounters Halep, Kvitova plays Pennetta

Although yet another battle between the Williams sisters on home soil is the undisputed highlight of the US Open women’s singles quarter-finals, there’s also an intriguing encounter between two-time Australian Open champ Victoria Azarenka and former French Open runner-up Simona Halep.

The ladies’ section is completed by double Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova, 6/1 with Coral for a third Grand Slam of her career at Flushing Meadows, playing Italian hard court specialist Flavia Pennetta on Wednesday night/Thursday morning UK time.

Can any of these top WTA pros stop world number one Serena Williams completing a calendar year Grand Slam? Only time will tell…

Victoria Azarenka v Simona Halep
US Open - Women Fourth Round - NYC

Belarus’ best sporting export Azarenka is rated the woman most likely to stop Serena reigning supreme in 2015 at 4/1 to take the US Open title for the first time, but must first tackle a considerable hurdle in Halep.

Two previous head-to-heads, both on hard surfaces, went in Azarenka’s favour, so she starts as a firm odds-on 4/9 match favourite. Halep is the second seed, however, and a highly consistent performer on the circuit. Punters concerned by her early Wimbledon exit during the grass part of the season can put it down as an aberration.

At a superb 7/4 to finally get one over Azarenka, Romanian racket star Halep is well worth considering. Both ladies have dropped just one set en route to the quarters, so this looks like being a close call.

Straight sets wins are how Azarenka has humbled Halep in the past, but this has the makings of going the distance. Take 11/4 if you fancy the former for a 2-1 victory, or 4/1 on the latter.

Petra Kvitova v Flavia Pennetta
US Open Tennis

It’s three wins apiece from previous encounters between top Czech Republic tennis player Kvitova and Pennetta. Despite there being nothing to choose between them in history, there is a huge experience advantage at the business end of Grand Slams in the former’s favour.

That is why Kvitova is odds-on 1/3 match favourite, plus the fact she has won the only meeting at a major tournament and last time they played at the London Olympics. Pennetta is on her favoured surface, though, and is 12/5 to upset the fifth seed.

A repeat result from their 2011 Australian Open encounter, 2-1 to Kvitova, is well worth considering again at 11/4.

Coral’s top tip: Take those 11/4 prices on victories in three sets for Azarenka and Kvitova, which should set up an absorbing semi-final between them.