Wimbledon Day 10, Semi-Final Preview #2: Garbine Muguruza v Agnieszka Radwanska

Radwanska

While the first of the 2015 Wimbledon semi-finals was expected, the second one, which will feature Agnieszka Radwanska and Garbine Muguruza is more unexpected. Radwanska has had a poor year by her standards; before the grass court season started, her best results were a quarter-final appearance in Doha and a semi-final showing in Katowice. The former world number two picked up her form significantly during the grass warm-up tournaments, reaching the semi-finals in Nottingham and the final in Eastbourne. However, both those tournaments ended with third set bagel losses that felt a little like one step forward and two steps back.

Prior to this Wimbledon, Muguruza had only ever won one main draw match before at Wimbledon. On the BBC coverage, they mentioned that Muguruza had previously called the grass “weird”. Away from the Slams, Muguruza has been disappointing this year, posting a 12-10 W-L record and winning back-to-back matches at just 2 out of her 10 WTA tournaments. However, Muguruza’s best results have come on the big stage, reaching the fourth round of the Australian Open, the quarter-finals of the French Open and now the semi-finals of Wimbledon. Sam Smith in the commentary said that Garbine apparently had a practice session with Petra Kvitova at Wimbledon where something suddenly clicked on the grass. There were definitely no signs of this at Birmingham and Eastbourne where the Spaniard suffered losses to Magdalena Rybarikova and Johanna Konta.

On quarter-finals days, Radwanska overcame Madison Keys in three sets, 7-6(3) 3-6 6-3. It was a very scrappy start, particularly from Keys who was hitting balls into the net for fun. The American player settled though and it turned into a really decent match. Keys saved three set points at *5-6 in the first set to force a tiebreak where Radwanska’s consistency and ability to get one more ball back in court paid dividends. Keys played her best tennis of the entire tournament to win the second set and force a decider. She maintained her pressure on serve and finally grabbed an opportunity on the return, breaking through a lucky net cord.

The third set was really entertaining; Keys got to deuce on Radwanska’s service game at 3-3 but could not carve out a break point. In the next game, Madison had a shocker with a horrible leave and then a double fault. A forehand into the net saw Radwanska break and she then served out the match to progress into her third Wimbledon semi-final. This was Keys’s best performance of the week and she was close in that final set. One poor game and too many errors at the end cost her. The stats were as you would expect; Radwanska hit 13 winners to 7 unforced errors while Keys maintained a similar ratio but much higher in both categories with 48 winners to 40 unforced errors. Radwanska has had an excellent tournament and the matches on grass in Nottingham and Eastbourne definitely seemed to have gone in her favour. She will move back into the world’s top ten when next week’s rankings are published.

In the first quarter-final on No.1 Court, Garbine Muguruza edged Timea Bacsinszky in straight sets, 7-5 6-3 to reach her first Grand Slam semi-final. Bacsinszky started with real intent, taking chances on Muguruza’s second serve and showing off some of the variety that has seen her wreak havoc on the tour this year. The Swiss player probably just edged it in the first set. Both players dug out of *0-30 holds on multiple occasions but it was the Spaniard who looked the more stable. Bacsinszky was a little passive when she got some openings and she played a tight game at *5-6 as her forehand started to spray. Muguruza took the first set, 7-5.

After an exchange of breaks, the second set had that inevitable feeling. While Bacsinszky never stopped fighting, she looked more flustered and surprisingly, the more erratic of the two. Muguruza continued to impress as she won the crucial points and continued to get up to the net to close points, a very effective tactic on grass (14/22 net points won). Muguruza broke with a crashing winner and then served out the match without any problems.

Radwanska and Muguruza are tied at 2-2 in their head-to-head. Radwanska won their first two matches comfortably in straight sets (6-3 6-2 and 6-1 6-3) and Muguruza has found answers in their last two matches, winning 3-6 7-6(4) 6-2 in Sydney and 6-4 6-2 in Dubai earlier this year. It’s worth noting that all four matches were on hard courts. I struggled greatly picking winners for the quarter-finals but surprisingly, I feel very decisive about making a pick in this one.

I have been so impressed with Muguruza this week, particualrly how well she has played the big points in all of her matches. Against Mirjana Lucic-Baroni she saved a break point at *2-2 in the third set before not losing another game. Against Angelique Kerber, she saved nine set points in the first set, most of them winners on the line. She has been clutch in the big moments and looked the stronger player in her last three matches against higher ranked opposition.

Muguruza’s match against Kerber was stunning and it’s been so impressive how she has continued to back up that win. She’s been playing effective grass court tennis and kept a rein in on her unforced error count. Radwanska poses obvious threats with her defence and court craft, and on her favourite surface. She also faces a similar match-up to the one against Keys. However, I would say that Muguruza has been surprisingly solid while still dominating with her power and she also faces a similar match-up to her recent matches.  I think it’s Muguruza’s time to shine…

Prediction: Muguruza d. Radwanska in 3 sets

Poll results: 65% correctly predicted that Radwanska would beat Keys and 62% correctly predicted that Muguruza would beat Bacsinszky

25 thoughts on “Wimbledon Day 10, Semi-Final Preview #2: Garbine Muguruza v Agnieszka Radwanska

  1. Great review, James! I must admit I’ve become a fan of Garbi throughout her last three matches. It’s great how she was able to back up her win against Angie. Also, I liked her pure joy after winning. I recognized that in RG already, it’s definitely something what makes you feel good as a tennis fan. I really would like to see her making the final and winning it. I think she has the belief and confidence for winning against Serena (let’s not talk about Maria… the last match on grass between the two was the olympics match if I remember it correctly? says it all really! I can see Maria winning one day though – maybe on clay? but definitely not in the semifinal of Wimbledon. I cant help the feeling that Serena is extra motivated when playing against Maria 😀 )

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    • Yeah Serena always steps up her game when she plays Maria because she clearly doesn’t like her. I think those losses in 2004 have always stung. And being the undisputed best of the past decade and being the second highest earner through endorsements is like a slap in the face.

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      • I think Serena definitely regrets her 2004 loss to Maria which immediately rose Maria to huge huge stardom. And Serena even though had more grand slams was completely sidelined by the media and magazines and it was Maria everywhere.
        I think it was Serena who lost that Wimbledon final rather than Maria winning it, and Serena soon realized what a huge mistake she had made giving the Wimbledon away to tall lean blonde Maria who began to be adored by magazines and fashion houses.
        I think Williams has since probably decided she is not going to lose to Maria ever again, you never see Serena as focused and as determined as she is against Maria.

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      • Well I’m no Sharapova fan, but I thought she played a GREAT game against Serena in that final. She really rushed her in a way Serena had never been rushed before.

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  2. Aga has found her game and confidence on the grass courts,she deserves to be in the s/final.Garbine is a surprise to me,especially on grass,though she has shown at Wimbledon she has adapted well to the grass courts.I especially loved her match against Timea and her celebration when she won,she is a breath of fresh air on the women’s circuit:) again she will have to keep her UFE low,she has the power to hit through Aga,though on this surface Aga will be a big test for her.Aga will move her around the court,like she did with Madison and try to bring her forward to the net.

    I will pick Garbine in 3 sets.

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  3. Oh God, it really can go either way. I am stunned and ecstatic Aga actually made the SFs after her awful year. I think Aga will need to play better than she did against Keys because I really did not think she looked very solid. She’ll also need an early lead to keep Muguruza under pressure. If she lets Garbine get a foot in the door, she’ll probably get the confidence to bash Aga away. I think it’ll probably be three sets either way unless Garbine really has an awful day. Really hope Aga can make her second final but I’ll be happy with Garbine as well as I think she could be entertaining in the final.

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  4. Match will be very tight and will be a three setter.Garbine has an edge but inexperienced at this level and thats whereas Aga’s defensive play can let her plunge.Just lay the first set winner and enjoy!!!!

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    • I agree. Aga will always be Aga, she will not change her styles. It depends on Garbine’s racquet. If Garbine continues to play “Bashing” tennis, it is difficult for Aga to move Garbine around. Garbine will miss some shots as usual (hope she does not miss too many). Aga has no chance at the baseline.

      Keys aware of her unforced errors. It was so clear that she did not hit as hard as she could due to errors. Garbine is a different machine. She will go all out. I hope she wins but I don’t want to underestimate Aga.

      Based on their H2H and faster surface conditions, Garbine will prevail in 2 sets.

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  5. I think Muguruza is a far more consistent player than Keys, but I am sure who will win this. If Aga plays well she has a definite chance.

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    • Aga is another version of Sara Errani with a better serve and more power. Everyone knows how she will and can play on court. Keys is an error machine like Ms Kvitova. She should beat Keys in 2 sets if she was good enough that day.

      Unless Garnine breaks down, I don’t think it will happen. Also, when Garbine blasts the balls over the other end, I don’t think Aga has times to come forward. She will send pushwanska home.

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  6. Loved the review… gosh Aggie can’t win this as it will make for such a dull final where Serena could double bagel her… Keep the UFE low and you’ll see a Muguruza vs Serena final which would be a far better match up. .. holding thumbs.

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  7. To me, I don’t think Serena or the Williams for that matter are bothered by how much any of the other girls make on tour. It is the nature of the marketing of women’s tennis that causes the high distortion. Last year, six of the top 10 highest earning female athletes were tennis players. Some never even won a slam. At a certain point, money doesn’t mean much anymore. Understanding the Williams backstory, they are driven by other things, some internal, others a perception of external forces. Both Maria and Serena actually have a love for revenge matches. Sometimes it is a personality clash, like Serena and Henin, or even Maria and Ivanovic. It is very possible that Li Na will surpass both girls in earnings simply because of her chinese background, but I doubt any of these girls will ‘throw shade’ her way because her own persona is different.

    I don’t think Maria has a rivalry going on with Serena in the true sense of the word. But, there is something emotional driving their match-ups, a need to prove something to the other person. I’m just happy they let the tennis do the talking and less of the ‘bit*h please!’ verbiage and attitude. And any tennis purist will tell you Serena has Maria beat in all aspects of play from serve, to return, to defense. Even the mind games.
    Serena wins this hands down, the only one caveat is Serena is not unbeatable. As to whether Maria can find the game needed to achieve this on her own is yet to be seen. She can, if Serena throws her some favours. I’ll just wait and see. From here, it seems Serena has this covered.

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  8. I will start by saying that in the last 20yrs or more, I have witnessed so many levels and versions of resistance in female tennis from the pre- Monica Seles era to the present day. Seles herself was something else; acquiring the name “ms greedy” along the way because she was always ready to apply 100% commitment to acquire anything in sight.

    In modern times we have seen this stubborn and stoic resistance taken to a new level with women like Errani, Sharapova, Williams, and now Muguruza…….a name that simply translates itself as “a bitter and persistent destructible wind” (A muguruza that is) Her fierce determination is second to none, panel-beating tennis balls consistently with wanton accuracy and sublime vehemence. Pushers like Wozniacki and Aggy can harrass their opponents into errors by making them play the extra shot……but not Mugu; she is bred for the extra shot. I can never get enough satisfaction of seeing that fierce look of reprimand from her across the net to her opponent after a brutal rally warning them of what they were up against.

    I must also say that I love the Radwanska quiet brand of resistance. the babe being a tough cookie who would throw the bath and the kitchen sink amidst an expressionless countenance. Ruthlessness personified! I just do not think that Aggy can outfox this bullish specimen of the female tennis prototype which is a vivid xray of my belief. It is what Vandeweghe can aspire to become. She has to develop the “muguruza spirit – ferocious and warlike. Not smiling and inciting the spectators during official hours. She looked like she was just happy to get that far. Imagine Muguruza being gifted and equipped with the shot-making prowess of Vandeweghe. It would be game, set and match even before we contemplate any premature analysis..

    I strongly believe that muguruza can win this title especially as her game will match up well to the main two that she needs to get past. It transcends the question of whether or not she is good on grass. That bull-dozing stylie would certainly pass the litmus test anywhere, most especially as it can be tailored to any surface. Come Sunday, I should hopefully look back at my bravado in posting this early! lol!!!!

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    • I think Radwanska has a better chance against Serena than Muguruza does. I think landing Garbine in the final would drive Williams through her nerves, knowing she cant start slow. Whereas she’ll see Aga as a player she should beat with minimal fuss, like Safarova at RG.

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      • Aga plays Serena in the final will be no contest. Garbine will give Serena a run for her money. It is a far more competitive match and possible an upset. Anyway, Aga is going home soon. No point to talk further.

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  9. This is just is superb tennis so far from Garbine,she has not let Aga into the game,pushing her back off the baseline,no sign of nerves,love the early preparation Garbine has on the ball,also the way she gets down low on the ball.

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    • Aga…I don’t know how she does it, but she gave a terrific account of herself. Pasting after pasting she hang in well.
      It’s Muguruza in the finale, it’s going to be a match of attrition regardless of who she plays.

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  10. As expected and said a tough and spirited match…..i just love Garbine’s dimples when she smiles…..may this be a start of new era and change of guard if she beats Serena and lifts the trophy.What a mouthwatering match on Saturday….can’t wait to watch!!!!!

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    • It will not be changing of the Guard. Serena plans to retire next year. Maria and Azaranka will rule when Serena leaves. Garbine is to inconsistence to brand her as the new it girl. All these players you guys called the best can’t even win WTA tournaments.

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