Suárez Navarro, seeded No.12, took out 2012 Miami champion Agnieszka Radwanska, 5-7, 6-0, 6-4 in the fourth round, and recovered from a disastrous start to edge Venus Williams 0-6, 6-1, 7-5 in the quarterfinals.
In those two matches, Suárez Navarro crushed 41 forehand winners, with only 17 coming from the backhand side. With just over 70% of her baseline winners generating from her forehand wing, it provides the Spaniard with a formidable weapon to build points from the back of the court.
Suárez Navarro will face Germany's Andrea Petkovic in the semifinals, and will look to once again dominate the flow of points from the back of the court with her forehand. Petkovic has hit 38 forehand winners, but it has taken her four matches to do it - double the amount it took the Spaniard.
SAP advanced analytics show that the secret sauce for Suárez Navarro is building baseline points through the ad court, where she has directed 61% of all her groundstrokes in the past two rounds. Overall, she is hitting 54% forehands, which is very impressive since opponents are trying to target her less potent backhand wing.
In a sport where 1% here and there adds up to big victories, Suárez Navarro will look to capitalize on the four key forehand elements of court position, power, depth and consistency to win the big points required to move through to the final.
Suárez Navarro is playing from a superior part of the court than Petkovic, with the Spaniard making contact with the ball 30% of the time inside the baseline, compared to the German's 23%. Typically the player that plays up in the court gets to rush the opponent more, has better court geometry to attack, and also takes time away for the opponent to prepare for the next shot.
Suárez Navarro is averaging 70mph off her forehand side to Petkovic's 69mph, with her hardest forehand registering 96mph to the German's 94mph. These small advantages add up over time, and are heavily relied upon when crunch time inevitably rolls around.
Nothing forces more errors in tennis than getting the ball deep, and Suárez Navarro has impressively hit 82% of her groundstrokes past her opponent's service line in her past two matches. This once again provides another small advantage, as Petkovic is averaging 79% with her deep balls. Importantly, Petkovic is hitting 19% of her forehands inside the service box, and 24% of her backhands, so definitely look for Suárez Navarro to take her forehand to Petkovic's backhand to extract short balls to attack.
The clever strategy of pulling the trigger at the right time, and not yielding easy errors, is clearly seen in Suárez Navarro's big win over Radwanska. Suárez Navarro hit 26 forehand winners, which was exactly double the 13 forehand unforced errors she committed.
These impressive numbers provided a hidden advantage over Radwanska, who actually had more forehand unforced errors than winners (16 to 15). Radwanska's forehand ratio looks a lot like Petkovic's, as the German has yielded 38 unforced forehand errors to counter her 37 forehand winners. Suárez Navarro has 41 winners and only 31 unforced errors - a clear advantage to take advantage of in the semifinal.
Suárez Navarro will be looking to use her forehand early and often against Petkovic in their semifinal encounter. This shapes as the most critical tactic in the match, offering a variety of ways for the Spaniard to get ahead in the point from the back of the court.
Prediction: Suárez Navarro defeats Petkovic in three sets.
Craig O'Shannessy (@BrainGameTennis) is the leading analyst for wtatennis.com throughout the 2015 season, utilizing SAP Data & Insights to uncover the patterns and percentages that dominate the game. Visit Craig's website at www.braingametennis.com for more expert strategy analysis.