Venus v Garbiñe: Uncertainty looms over the Wuhan final

VenusThe Wuhan semi-finals featured some fantastic quality tennis but both ended on a sour note with a pair of frosty handshakes. For the second straight day, Venus Williams pulled out another victory in a third set tiebreak, saving a match point on this occasion to defeat the US Open finalist, Roberta Vinci, 5-7 6-2 7-6(4) in two hours and 43 minutes. This is pretty noteworthy since Venus has had some heartbreakers in third set tiebreaks over the past couple of years. Venus had led 5-2 in the third set and served for it at *5-3 but, struggling with a leg injury and fatigue, was pegged back by Vinci who won four straight games. The Italian player had a match point serving for it at *6-5 but dumped a backhand slice into the net.

The third set tiebreak featured some stunning rallies and Venus, moving better towards the end, went on the all-out attack and produced some superb shotmaking at the net. Vinci was clearly bothered with the time that Williams was taking between points and there was a minor altercation in between the first and second serve on match point with Vinci yelling something and Venus responding with an “excuse me”. Vinci went wide on the match point…

It was another plucky display from Venus who is into a first final since the very first week of 2015 when she defeated Caroline Wozniacki to win Auckland. Her last two matches in Wuhan, against Johanna Konta and Vinci, have both been brutal and it’s going to be a really tough turnaround for her against Garbiñe Muguruza who she will play in Saturday’s final. On paper this looks like an absolute cracker but Muguruza, who twice failed to serve out her semi-final match against Angelique Kerber, appeared to pick up an ankle injury after falling on her first match point.

It was another wonderful match between Kerber and Muguruza and I could happily watch them play every week on tour. Muguruza eventually won through, 6-4 7-6(5). The first set was really, really, really good with Kerber playing a solid set but Muguruza’s hitting taking it to a new level. There were a number of mini-battles with five of the first six games going to deuce. Muguruza served it out in real style…

Muguruza was three times up a break in the second set but Kerber kept plugging away. Two of the breaks saw Muguruza serve for the match; the first time saw the Spaniard play a shaky game at *5-4, going long on a couple of points. Muguruza produced some outstanding tennis to break Kerber at 5-5 but once again, she couldn’t put her gutsy opponent away. Muguruza earnt a match point at *6-5 *40-30 but in a promising position up at the net and in complete control of the rally, couldn’t win the point with Kerber producing an accurate pass. Muguruza tumbled to the ground. Muguruza will want to erase the final two points of the game from her memory; a framed smash and then an inexplicably bad volley that landed a longgg way out of the tramlines. Pressure can do funny things to the brain.

Muguruza seemed to be feeling her ankle but it still came as a surprise when she opted for a medical time-out at 3-3 in the first set tiebreak. At least the score was even but it’s not something you see very often. Muguruza was clearly injured as her serve seemed to be the main issue. Kerber was up 5-3 and two points from the set (and arguably the match as Muguruza may not have continued) but the Spaniard switched in lethal hitting mode and produced a couple of winners before Kerber went wide on the second match point. It was a strange and unfortunate ending to what had been a quality match. Muguruza had wobbled majorly at the end but injury aside, a straight sets win over Kerber is an excellent result.

Venus leads Garbiñe 2-0 in their head-to-head with wins in Florianopolis (6-4 2-6 7-5, 2013) and Auckland (6-3 6-3, 2014). I’m concerned about both players; Venus has battled tremendously well but she looked extremely laboured at times in her semi-final match as she was seen stretching out her leg which she appeared to injure during the third set. Muguruza is troubled by her ankle and looked dejected during her post-match interview. Injurys aside, I would go Muguruza in this final. Her intensity of hitting has been superb all week and i’ve loved the way she has looked to come in after decent first serves and take balls out the air. Who knows though what will happen with this one… it got me thinking about whether we’ve ever seen two players pull out of a match through injury and how that would unfold. I would imagine both players will be ultra-aggressive and be looking to finish points as quickly as possible. For that reason, perhaps it could still turn out to be an entertaining match…

11 thoughts on “Venus v Garbiñe: Uncertainty looms over the Wuhan final

  1. Shame to see both Venus and Garbine making the final with niggling injuries,after their s/final wins.Both Venus and Garbine were stretched both mentally and physically in their matches,still both found a way to win.

    I agree with your comment James,I think both players will want to keep the points short,taking the ball on early,remaining aggressive.I think the serve of both players will be a important factor in this final.Both players will have to watch their margins on their shots,controlled aggression being the key factor.If Venus is to win,I feel she will have to do it in straight sets.I have really been impressed with Garbine during this tournament and I will pick her to win in 3 sets,hopefully straight sets:)

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  2. They are both about the same type of tennis players( sans the age difference), and given how each made the final, I think it will come down to who can sustain their level of play through this. In theory, this could’ve have been an excellent hitting contest of wills, but in practice, injuries and whatnot, will just have to wait and see.

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  3. Sad to see Garbine having to retire in the 2nd set trailing 3 games to love,to me her movement was fine in the first set.Though in her 2nd service game of the 2nd set,she seem to have tweaked her ankle again.Garbine is still in contention to make the end of year finals,I think she made the right decision to retire.Another observation,Garbine needs to play the percentages better,hopefully her trial coach Sam or maybe full time:) can work in that area.I think the experience of Venus in finals showed especially in the first set.Congrats to Venus!!!!!

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  4. I knew Venus would of win in 2. She should of won all her matches in 2 set. I hope she can reach quarters or semi in China Open and she is good to go. Well done Venus at least you can win big titles, unlike Vinci who beat Serena one time and think she done won the lotto. It was a fluke won , ssh o let’s be for real.

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