1. Serena Williams v Venus Williams (Wimbledon, R4)
There are many intriguing women’s matches that are set to be played on Magic Monday, but the stand-out has to be the all Williams clash. This will be the first time that Serena and Venus have played at Wimbledon since the 2009 final. For a time, it looked like the hotly anticipated clash between Serena and Venus may not happen. Step forward, Heather Watson. I expected Heather to get three or four games at best against Serena… I was wrong. Heather produced a tremendously gutsy and determined display, and was just two points from WINNING the match as she got Serena well and truly on the ropes.
Heather did a magnificent job to serve out the second set when her first serve went on holiday. She chased everything down and fed off the passionate home crowd. Ironically, when serving for the match at *5-4 in the third set, she got a fair share of first serves in. She didn’t actually play a bad game at all and there was definitely a sense of Serena, who looked as tight as a drum for much of the match, stepping it up. There were several GIFable moments… @WTAReactions were ON IT. As she keeps on doing this year, Serena dug it out. It was her 15th third set win of the year and 19th in a row. The last time that Serena lost a three set match was against Venus in Montreal last year.
In complete contrast, Venus had a very straightforward match out on court No. 2 against Aleksandra Krunic. Venus won through, 6-3 6-2 in 71 minutes. The American player won 21 out of 29 points up at the net. She has reached the second week of Wimbledon for the first time since 2011 and has yet to drop a set through her first three rounds. She was tested by Yulia Putintseva in the second round but came through that superb match in two tight sets.
This will be the 26th career match-up between Serena and Venus with Serena leading 14-11. In their Wimbledon encounters, Serena leads 3-2. The pair have only played twice in the last five years and it was Venus who won their last match, an entertaining three setter in Montreal last August, 6-7(2) 6-2 6-3. There is always an element of the unknown going into these matches. I can’t begin to imagine what it would be like to play a sibling competitively. When I looked at the draw, Venus was the only name I picked out as a potential threat to Serena. If anyone knows how to do it then it’s Venus. However, after that marathon match with Watson, I think Serena will have tightened up her game and with the Serena Slam and Grand Slam still a possibility, she will be even more motivated to win.
Prediction: Serena d. Venus in 3 sets
2. Victoria Azarenka v Belinda Bencic (Wimbledon, R4)
Belinda Bencic just keeps on winning. The 18-year-old was down 5-1 in the first set of her third round match against Bethanie Mattek-Sands but came back to win six straight games and then edge the second set, winning through 7-5 7-5 to reach the second week of Wimbledon for the first time in her career. I watched Belinda in her mixed doubles match and she didn’t seem to be troubled by her leg injury, which affected her in her first round win over Tsvetana Pironkova. I heard she took an MTO in the first set of her match against Mattek-Sands. This has been a superb grass court season for Belinda and it’s nice to see the Eastbourne champion backing up her run at Wimbledon. Belinda has won 14 matches on the grass this year and more than doubled her match wins for 2015 in just the last few weeks.
Bencic faces her toughest test of the Championships as she takes on Victoria Azarenka in the fourth round. The Belarusian has had a very smooth progression through the first three rounds with much of the attention focused elsewhere. I thought she was set for a really tough match against the in-form Kristina Mladenovic but she handled it well, coming through, 6-4 6-4 in one hour and 38 minutes. Azarenka hit 27 winners to 13 unforced errors, and returned especially well. Mladenovic won just 18% of points behind her second serve. Azarenka’s been dealt some rough draws at the Slams. This week she was dealt a slice of luck being drawn into Carla Suarez Navarro‘s section and she is reaping the benefits. I was also pleased to hear that Azarenka has entered Washington. Personally, I don’t think she has played enough International events to simply get matches under her belt, which is what she has been missing.
Azarenka and Bencic will be playing each other for the first time on the WTA tour. Bencic reached the quarters of the US Open last year so she at least has experience of playing at this stage of a Slam. I’ve really warmed to Belinda during this month and i’ve seen her so many times in the last few weeks. This is going to be a tough ask and it may just be one step too far. Belinda has played a lot of tennis in the last few weeks and although she is confident, I think she’ll need to be 100% physically to give Azarenka a run for her money. Belinda’s second serve is a weakness and Vika could go to town with it. Vika for the win…
Prediction: Azarenka d. Bencic in 2 tight sets