Kateryna Bondarenko had a winning record over Yanina Wickmayer coming into the U.S. Open, but today, it was the Belgian who prevailed, 7-5, 6-4, in what turned out to be an entertaining, and sometimes tense, match. Bondarenko, probably the victim of nerves (or perhaps just being a Bondarenko), seemed a pale figure throughout much of the first set, letting Wickmayer dictate almost every rally with her inventive service game and tough groundstrokes. When she was about the lose the first set at 3-5, though, Bondarenko suddenly came to life, broke Wickmayer, and saved a set point. She then held for 4-5. Wickmayer held, then broke Bondarenko. At that point, the set became very exciting. Bondarenko wound up saving five set points, but her effort wasn't good enough.
Bondarenko--with her sister, Alona, and her chihuahua, Princess, looking on--broke early in the second set, and Wickmayer smacked her racquet on the court (or so I heard). Wickmayer remained tense for a while, smacking balls around and coming close to getting hereslf in trouble. But then she calmed down, and went back to dominating the match. She broke Bondarenko at 4-all, and then held to become a semifinalist at the U.S. Open.
Wickmayer could be more consistent, for sure, but on the big points, she came through. Surprisingly, she served only one ace. She hit twice as many winners as her opponent, and they were almost even on unforced errors. Bondarenko was never dominant enough, and getting off to a rather flat start didn't help.
Given Wickmayer's fighting spirit and the Bondarenkos' tendency to be inconsistent, I can't say I'm that surprised that this match went the way it went. Recognition goes to Todd Spiker for naming Wickmayer a semifinalist several days ago.
Two Belgians in the semifinals...feels like old times.