Wimbledon 2012: Women’s semifinal preview
July 5, 2012 · Print This Article
by: Tom Cochrane
Andy Murray’s hopes of a maiden Grand Slam keep moving closer to becoming a reality. Day 9 saw the Scot edge past David Ferrer in a very tight 4-setter and into the Wimbledon semi-finals for a fourth consecutive year. Can he take the next step this year and reach his first final at the All England Club?
Day 9 Recap
In an incredibly close match, Murray recovered from a break down in the opening set against the tenacious Ferrer to force it to a tiebreaker. The Spaniard took the opening set tiebreaker, and had a set point in the second set tiebreaker to open up a commanding lead. But Murray weathered the storm, claimed the second set and, on the back of a tremendous serving performance, won the third set 6-4. The fourth set again went to a tiebreaker, but Murray held his nerve to claim victory.
Murray will play Jo-Wilfried Tsonga on Friday for a place in Sunday’s final after the Frenchman disposed of Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber in 4 sets in their quarter-final duel to reach his second Wimbledon semi-final.
The other semi-final will pit 6-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer against defending champion and top seed Novak Djokovic after they each claimed straight sets quarter-final victories on Day 9. Djokovic recovered from losing serve early in the first set to overpower Florian Mayer, compiling 50 winners against just 14 for the German. Federer extended his perfect record against Mikhail Youzhny, beating the Russian for the fourteenth time in as many matches and showing no signs of the back problems that hindered him against Malisse.
Today is women’s semi-finals day at the All England Club, and my predictions for the matches are set out below.
Match of the Day – Day 10
1. Angelique Kerber vs. Agnieszka Radwanska
Whoever wins this match will be into their first ever Grand Slam final, and that fact alone makes this match a difficult one to analyse. On the one hand, Radwanska is the more experienced player, having been a top 10 player on the WTA Tour for a longer period of time than Kerber, and having won some big tournaments during that time. On the other hand, this is Radwanska’s first Grand Slam semi-final – for all her consistency, the Pole had never been beyond the quarter-finals of a major before this tournament.
Kerber, by contrast, shrugged off a bad spell of form late last season to charge into the semi-finals of the US Open as a virtual unknown. Since then, the German has established herself as a true force on the WTA Tour, breaking into the top 10 and producing some fine results, such as a quarter-final appearance at the French Open last month and now a great run at the All England Club.
Whoever handles the enormity of the occasion better will have a huge advantage as far as winning this match goes. The other key factor is how well Kerber is able to execute her shots. The German is the more powerful and aggressive player and, at her best, will have too much firepower for Radwanska. Nicknamed “The Wall”, Radwanska gets almost everything back into play and makes very few mistakes. Accordingly, if Kerber is misfiring today, Radwanska will ride such inconsistency all the way to Saturday’s final. On the basis of her good grass-court form at Eastbourne and the All England Club, I’ll back the German to cause an upset and overpower Radwanska in this one. Kerber in 3.
2. Victoria Azarenka vs. Serena Williams
Taking advantage of some upsets of her fellow seeds, second seed and Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka has cruised into the semi-finals without being overly challenged in any of her matches. That all changes now for the Belarusian, who faces 13-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams for a spot in the final.
Williams, by contrast, has had to fight her way through to this stage of the tournament, surviving lengthy 3-setters against Zheng and Shvedova, and overcoming defending champion Petra Kvitova in a tense quarter-final encounter. But I think it’s exactly what Williams needed after her surprise opening round exit in Paris. The American is now match-fit and battle-hardened, and that will hold her in good stead going into this blockbuster clash.
Both players hit hard and heavy from the baseline, so to an extent it will be a case of who can execute at a higher level in today’s match. But I think Williams has a couple of additional advantages over Azarenka. The first of these is her serve, which worked so well against Kvitova and was essential to her victory over the Czech. If Williams can get a high percentage of first serves into play, that will make holding serve an easier task and it will allow her to be more aggressive on Azarenka’s service games.
The second advantage for the 4-time Wimbledon champion is her abilities at net. Unlike Azarenka, who rarely ventures inside the service line, Williams is comfortable coming into the net and is an adept volleyer. Even if Williams only does so occasionally in this match, it’s an extra weapon that she can use to throw off Azarenka’s rhythm from the back of the court. Given these advantages, I favour Williams to go through to the final. Williams in 2.
That’s it for today. Enjoy the tennis and I’ll be back with another serve tomorrow.