Out of the four possible line-ups for the 2015 Wimbledon women’s final, there was only one that intrigued me… we gotttttt it! On Saturday, the world number one, Serena Williams will take on the world number 20 and first time Grand Slam finalist, Garbine Muguruza. By virtue of her performances this week, Muguruza will crack the world’s top ten for the first time in her career.
In the first of the women’s semi-finals, Muguruza defeated Agnieszka Radwanska, 6-2 3-6 6-3 in one hour and 56 minutes. For a time it looked like it would be a routine straight sets result but it blossomed into a really compelling match. Muguruza began in superb form and showing no signs of nerves. She played a near faultless first set to take it, 6-2. The Spaniard was aggressive from the baseline, dictated rallies and continued to look to close points at the net. Muguruza hit 12 winners to 6 unforced errors and looked completely secure, making very few errors. Muguruza’s defence was also impressive; she looked uncomfortable when pushed out wide on the backhand side but managed to stay in many of the rallies. Radwanska was very reactive and appeared to be trying to rally with Muguruza from the baseline, which was not working…
Muguruza went up an early break in the second set but the errors started to come as perhaps the finish line appeared in her mind. Radwanska also started to move Muguruza around the court with better shot placement and also, used more variety with some slices. Radwanska won six games on the trot to win the second set and go up an early break in the third set. Muguruza collapsed a little; she does have the tendency when things start going shaky to just start hitting harder and harder. She was beginning to look a little ragged and had some BAD misses at the start of the third set.
Muguruza broke Radwanska straight back at the start of the third set with a powerful game and then held a crucial service game at 2-2 which went to deuce. Muguruza continued to miss some sitters but she did really well to come out of that game with a hold. In the next game, the Spaniard started to settle and dominate once more, playing close to the level that she delivered in the first set. There were some magnificent points with both players throwing up some wonderful lobs.
Muguruza stepped up to serve for a place in the Wimbledon final at *5-3. There was enough in that final game to unsettle anyone, let alone a player serving for a first ever Grand Slam final…. Muguruza challenged a first serve on the first point which turned to be out. She hit a groundstroke MILES long on the first point. On the next point, Muguruza was called a foot fault on her first serve. The Spaniard kept it together but Radwanska played a majestic return at 30-30 to force a break point. As she has been doing all tournament, Muguruza continued to play the big points well. Muguruza saved two break points, getting a little lucky on the second one with a tame second serve (she had double faulted on the point before) and Radwanka’s return clipping the net and bouncing on her side.
The big, BIG talking point came on the next point. At deuce, one of Muguruza’s rally balls was close to being out and it appeared that Radwanska’s camp urged her to challenge. As she put her hand up to challenge, Muguruza smashed her shot LONGGGG. Aga stopped the point though and Hawkeye revealed that Muguruza’s shot had caught the line… cue angry look from Aga to her box. On her first match point, Muguruza delivered a big serve out wide and a drive volley to seal her place in the final.
I’ve always liked Garbine and it’s great to see her get this kind of exposure and for the tennis world to see her personality shine through. She seems like such a niceeeee person and is enchanting in interviews.
In the second of the semi-finals, Serena maintained her dominance with a 17th consecutive win over Maria Sharapova, 6-2 6-4. The alarm bells started ringing from the first game as Sharapova threw in three double faults in her first service game including one on break point. For this to be a competitive match, Maria HAD to play well and that didn’t happen unfortunately. Sharapova finished the match with a negative winners to unforced errors differential (9 to 13). Serena, not playing at her best, powered to the first set, 6-2, losing just six points on her serve. Sharapova put up more resistance in the second set, winning her first two service games. However, she never looked like staying with Serena despite fighting hard to win four games. Serena eventually won to progress into her eighth Wimbledon final and her first since 2012.
Of the three players left, Muguruza was the one I felt who had the best chance of giving Serena a really tough match in the final. While she has had some issues closing out matches in the past, there is definitely a sense of belief and that she knows she belongs.
Serena leads the head-to-head against Garbine, 2-1. The Spaniard produced a magnificent performance at Roland Garros last year, winning 6-2 6-2 and going all the way to the quarters where she pushed Maria Sharapova to three sets. In their last match, Muguruza took a set off Williams at the Australian Open before falling in three very entertaining sets, 2-6 6-3 6-2.
When a player participates in their first Grand Slam final, it’s always an unknown quantity as to how they will respond mentally. Muguruza dealt with her nerves remarkably well in the semi-finals but there is another BIG step up between the semis and the final. I honestly believe that Garbine has a real shot in this final if she can start well and maintain a high percentage of first serves. However, it’s hard to ignore Serena in this one; she has the experience of playing all those Grand Slam finals and while there will be pressure with being the favourite, she’s dealt with it all through her career. Serena has lost just one match ALL YEAR and is 14-0 in three setters in 2015. Serena will be ready for the threat that Garbine poses and I don’t think she will underestimate her. While I think that Garbine will win a set and make this a very competitive final, i’m going for Serena…
Good match, ladies! I’m mega excited for this one 😀
Prediction: S.Williams d. Muguruza in 3 sets
Poll results: 74% of readers correctly predicted that Williams would beat Sharapova and 49% correctly predicted that Muguruza would beat Radwanska