Thursday, July 12, 2018

Angie and Serena--together again, as you always wanted to see them

This has been a strange Wimbledon, with so many seeds going out early, and with the most highly favored seed going out very early. But now we're down to two, and the tennis gods have so conspired to make that pairing a very tasty one indeed. Angie Kerber and Serena Williams, who bring out the best in each other, will contend for a major title for a third time on Saturday.

I expected the semifinal played between Kerber and Alona Ostapenko to go three sets, but it didn't, despite Ostapenko's strong second set resurgence. My main takeaway from the match was that Ostapenko--who has made a real improvement in her serve--still needs to calm down a bit with the hitting. She continues to remind me of early Kvitova--swings that are hard and laser-accurate. Except when they aren't.

Ostapenko is very young, and has plenty of time to add some nuance and safety to her already impressive game. Today, she was unable to take so many risks and still dominate. After all, she was playing against a human wall, but a clever wall who also has a lot of offensive skills.

Kerber's 6-3, 6-3 victory puts her into her second Wimbledon final. In 2016, she was the runner-up, defeated 7-5, 6-3 by Serena Williams. The German had beaten Williams earlier that year in the Australian Open final, in which Williams was the defending champion.

Now, Kerber and Williams will meet again on Centre Court to determine who is the 2018 Wimbledon champion. Williams defeated Kerber's countrywoman, Julia Goerges, 6-2, 6-4 today in the semifinals. It was a wonderful run for Goerges, who has more or less re-invented her entire career, and who handled the biggest match of that career with poise and grit.

Because of an injury, Williams wasn't able to serve for a while, and had no serving warmups before Wimbledon. Her service speed hasn't been as fast as it it's been in the past, but her placement remains spot-on. 

Here are the players' paths to the final:

1st round--def. Vera Zvonareva
2nd round--def. Claire Liu
3rd round--def. Naomi Osaka (18)
round of 16--def. Belinda Bencic
quarterfinals--def. Daria Kasatkina (14)
semifinals--def. Alona Ostapenko (12)

1st round--def. Arantxa Rus
2nd round--def. Viktoriya Tomova
3rd round--def. Kristina Mladenovic
round of 16--def. Evgeniya Rodina
quarterfinals--def. Camila Giorgi
semifinals--def. Julia Goerges (13)

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