The most prestigious Grand Slam of the year is edging closer to its gripping conclusion, and only four women are left standing. There have been various stories to keep us captivated throughout the competition; including the arrival of 15-year-old Coco Gauff on the global stage and the unravelling of Johanna Konta just as the Grand Slam was opening up for her.
Seeds have come and gone at Wimbledon, with the top five players already out at the semi-final stage. However, which players should progress from each semi and reach the showpiece event on centre court on Saturday?
Elina Svitolina (8) vs Simona Halep (7)
The more interesting half of the draw is one that involves this semi-final. Ashleigh Barty and Naomi Osaka were both knocked out in earlier round which makes this an exciting proposition.
Svitolina has been going about her business very quietly but is yet to take on a renowned champion like Halep. She overcame the unseeded duo of Daria Gavrilova and Margarita Gasparyan in her first two rounds in straight sets before coming up against 31st-seed Maria Sakkari. After taking the first set emphatically, she was sent to a deciding third after a defeat in her only tie-break of the competition. However, she recovered her nerve and comprehensively won the decider.
The Ukrainian has got better as the competition has gone on and won her round of 16 and quarterfinal clashes against Petra Martic and Karolina Muchova in straight sets. The 24-year-old has all the makings of being a Grand Slam champion.
However, to do so, she must overcome the 2018 French Open champion. She has only dropped one set in the entire competition and only lost 37 games in the entirety of the competition. Her win over Coco Gauff on Manic Monday was undoubtedly her toughest test to date, but she came through it with flying colours. She brutally swatted aside Zhang Shuai in the last round, and the vital part of her game is the accuracy of her first serve.
The deciding factor in the semi-final will be whether the Ukrainian can deal with the ferocious first service that Halep possess; with 72% on the Romanians points coming off her first serve. Halep in the 0.41 favourite with BetXChange, but the feeling is that there can be one final shock at Wimbledon this year.
Serena Williams (11) vs Barbora Strycova
The attraction of Serena Williams at Wimbledon is unlike anything else in sport. When Williams sets foot on the grass court, fans are immediately engrossed. However, Barbora Strycova has been a thoroughly entertaining player to watch throughout the competition and could present a stern test for Serena, who hasn’t played an awful lot of tennis this year.
Williams is looking for the elusive 24th Grand Slam of her career, and an eighth title at Wimbledon. There is no doubting her credentials, but the doubts surrounding her fitness have been there from the start. She hasn’t played a lot this season and missed the French Open. Meanwhile, she hasn’t won a Grand Slam since giving birth, but all the signs point to that trend being broken this year. She was faultless coming through the early stages and has reached another level since the round of 16 stage. She effortlessly beat Suarez Navarro in straight sets before being taken to a third set by Alison Riske in the quarterfinals. In that third set, she produced the kind of tennis that has become synonymous with Williams; she was irresistible. She has been playing in the mixed doubles with Sir Andy Murray to build up her match practice and judging on her performance so far; that seems to have been the right call.
Strycova, on the other hand, wasn’t expected to get to this stage and went into her round of 16 and quarterfinal clashes as the rank outsider to progress. In fact, this is the furthest that she has ever made it in a Grand Slam, and despite her thoughts of retirement at the end of the season; she will believe she will have a great chance of progressing. After beating Elise Mertens in three sets on Manic Monday, she played for the first time on centre court against home favourite Johanna Konta. The clash was as much about the brilliance of the Czech as it was Konta’s inability to deal with the occasion. The energy that the Czech has around the court is enough to tire out any opponent, while her net-play is phenomenal.
She will need to utilise all her strengths to stand a chance against Williams, but you would feel that it would be just a step too far for her to overcome the American.