Friday, July 10, 2015

Wimbledon final between Williams and Muguruza of historical interest

Tomorrow, world number 1 Serena Williams has a chance--a very good chance--to attain her second "Serena Slam." More notable, should she win the 2015 Wimbledon final, she'll be three-quarters of the way toward winning the Grand Slam, one of the few great accomplishments missing from her tennis resume. Also, a win tomorrow would make Williams, 33, the oldest woman to win a major in the Open Era.

Standing in Williams' way is a Spanish upstart, Garbine Muguruza, who--unlike most of her generation--already has a significant Serena victory among her accomplishments. It was Muguruza who took Williams out of the 2014 French Open in straight sets, in the second round. Should 20th seed Muguruza win the 2015 Wimbledon title, she will be the first Spanish woman to do so since Conchita Martinez denied Martina Navratilova her 10th Wimbledon title in 1994. Regardless of tomorrow's outcome, Muguruza will enter the top 10.

The top doubles seeds, Martina Hingis and Sania Mirza, will face the 2nd seeds, Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina, in the other final. Hingis and Mirza defeated 5th seeds Raquel Kops-Jones and Abigail Spears in the semifinals. Makarova and Vesnina reached the final by defeating 4th seeds Timea Babos and Kiki Mladenovic.

Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Lucie Safarova, seeded 6th, were halfway to a Grand Slam when they were defeated in the quarterfinals by Kop-Jones and Spears.

Timea Babos could still win a doubles title. She and partner Alexander Peya, seeded 5th, will play 7th seeds Martina Hingis and Leander Paes in the mixed doubles final. Hingis, obviously, has a chance to do a doubles sweep.

In an odd moment yesterday, Aga Radwanska, defeated by Muguruza, made a late-match challenge that could conceivably have cost her the victory, and at the very least, virtually took her out of the match. It was an odd moment because the same thing happened to Petra Kvitova (only the Kvitova version was considerably stranger) in the third round. These incidents are reminders that the smallest lapse of judgment can be deadly in professional tennis.

Despite its unusual (and for many, unsatisfying) ending, however, the three-set Radwanska vs. Muguruza match was a good one. The other semifinal, between Williams and Maria Sharapova was just a bit too predictable.

Here are the players' paths to tomorrow's final:

round 1--def. Margarita Gasparyan
round 2--def. Timea Babos
round 3--def. Heather Watson
round of 16: def. Venus Williams (16)
quarterfinals--def. Victoria Azarenka (23)
semifinals--def. Maria Sharapova (4)

round 1--def. Varvara Lepchenko
round 2--def. Mirjana Lucic-Baroni
round 3--def. Angelique Kerber (10)
round of 16--def. Caroline Wozniacki (5)
quarterfinals--def Timea Bacsinszky (15)
semifinals--def. Agnieszka Radwanska (13)

British number 1 Heather Watson served for the match against Williams in round 3. As if that weren't enough, the number 1 seed then faced three very familiar opponents in a row--Venus Williams, Azarenka and Sharapova. There was a lot of drama in that draw.

Both players faced opponents who were mentioned as potential champions of the event. Williams beat both her sister, who is a five-time Wimbledon champion, and Sharapova, who won the tournament in 2004. Muguruza defeated both Kerber and 2012 runner-up Radwanska.

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