The 2016 Wimbledon women’s final will be a repeat of the Australian Open final from earlier this year as the world number one, Serena Williams will play the world number four, Angelique Kerber on Saturday afternoon.
Semi-finals day was a swift one for the women with both matches finished within two hours. Serena took just 48 minutes to see off first time Slam semi-finalist, Elena Vesnina, 6-2 6-0. It was an absolutely sensational performance from Serena who produced a dreamy set of stats:
77% first serves in
3 points dropped behind the serve
28 winners to 7 unforced errors
5/7 net points won
Vesnina may have only won two out of 14 games but she still came away with a positive winners to unforced errors differential of +2. The Russian player gave it her all but Serena was on a mission. Vesnina looked very nervous as she stepped out to serve for the first time and her footwork was slightly hampered, which is completely understandable. Vesnina can hittt the ball, but her flat strokes kind of played into Serena’s hands; with her lack of variety, there wasn’t much to disrupt the world number one’s rhythm and she was ON it from the start.
Vesnina saved a break point at *0-4 to get on the board in the first set, displaying a rather relieved smile! Serena wrapped up the first set with an ace. The American quickly broke at the start of the second set and then delivered a quite breathtaking service game at *1-0; Two aces, an unreturnable with her fastest serve of the match, and then a delightful angled forehand winner. Serena tore through the second set, breaking twice more, and sealing a *5-0 lead with an incredible passing shot winner. Huge credit to Vesnina for what she has achieved during this tournament but on this occasion, Serena was just simply too good.
The second semi-final was a much tighter affair but still decided in straight sets; Kerber defeated Venus Williams, 6-4 6-4, The first set was a break-happy affair with seven breaks in ten games. Kerber earnt the first hold of serve to lead 4-2 but was unable to serve out the set at the first time of asking. Second time round, Kerber sealed it with a forehand into the net from Venus on set point. The forehand continually let down Venus and another wild one sailed long to give Kerber the early advantage in the second set.
Venus didn’t play her best but like all her matches during this tournament, she grew into it and kept plugging away. Venus prevented Kerber from going up a double break with a gorgeous pick-up at the net down break point. Kerber maintained her break of serve and had a super hold at 4-3, sealing game point with a smart and well-executed drop shot winner. There were a handful of smoking rallies and the match point may have been the pick of the bunch. After going toe-to-toe, Kerber’s willingness to go down-the-line opened up the rally and she finished off proceedings with a trademark forehand passing shot winner.
Head-to-head record: Serena leads Angie, 5-2 in their head-to-head. All five of Serena’s wins have come in straight sets, but it was Angie who won their last match back in the Australian Open final, producing the performance of her career to triumph, 6-4 3-6 6-4. All seven previous encounters have taken place on hard courts.
Interesting stat: For the second consecutive year, Serena has reached the final of the first three Slams of the year. 2015 was the first time she achieved this feat in her career. While she has been runner-up in the two Slams this year (the first ever time she has lost consecutive Slam finals), Serena’s consistency has still been remarkable, reaching the final at seven of her last eight Slams. For Kerber, Wimbledon is now her most consistent Slam in terms of W-L record (20-8). She’s also got a perfect 100% record in Slam finals after the win over Serena in Melbourne!
Final thoughts: The pressure will firmly be on Serena in this final as she seeks Slam #22. She said in press about something being different at Wimbledon and she is calmer. It’s up to you whether you believe that but her performances in the last few rounds have gone a long way to validate those claims. While Kerber is at home on this surface, I think this match-up on grass will favour Serena in terms of the serve. It wasn’t firing in the first few rounds but as has become tradition with her previous title runs, Serena has found her mojo on the serve and looked incredibly secure behind it, particularly in the semi-finals.
Kerber showed in Australia that she has plenty of assets to her game that can make life very tricky for the world number one. Her defence is second to none and her ability to pick a target when her opponent is at the net makes her dangerous. Kerber has produced nuggets of variety this week with drop shots and slices that have helped her to reach the final without dropping a set. This will be imperative in the final to try and throw Serena off her game and not allow her to settle.
For me, it comes down to the serve on grass… i’m going for Serena and #22.