Venus Williams vs. Johanna Konta: Wimbledon 2017, Semi-Final Preview

The number six seed, Johanna Konta and the number ten seed, Venus Williams have progressed through the bottom half of the draw to meet in a blockbuster Wimbledon semi-final match set for Thursday. While Williams will be bidding to reach her 9th Wimbledon final, Konta will be going for her first ever Slam final.

V.Williams d. Ostapenko, 6-3 7-5 (QF)

Delivering a stunning display of serving, Venus Williams snapped Jelena Ostapenko’s winning Slam streak at 11 matches. Williams made a bright start with three aces in the first game and then immediately got the first break of serve. Ostapenko struggled with a few ball tosses and took some time to adjust to her first outing on Centre Court. It was all about serve and return for Williams – her first serve was brilliant and she was ultra-aggressive on Ostapenko’s second serves. The key stat in the first set was Ostapenko’s first serve percentage at just 44% and winning 43% of points behind her second serve.

Ostapenko was blasting winners, as we’ve been accustomed to seeing, and she held at the start of the second set with one of the shots of the match, a forehand on-the-run from way outside of the court that she arrowed down-the-line for a spectacular winner. I was impressed how Williams was never phased by Ostapenko’s shotmaking. Williams had the early break in the second set, which she lost on a double fault down break point. Ostapenko began to take charge and there was a sense this was heading the distance as she moved ahead on serve.

Williams was down *4-5 *15-30, but reacted with a gorgeous serve down-the-tee, one of a few which moved away from Ostapenko for a glorious ace. Two more decent serves saw Williams level up at 5-5. Williams broke Ostapenko’s serve in the very next game with the Latvian player offering up a trio of shots into the net, before serving out the match, in style, to love.

This was another stunning performance from Williams who has spent practically her whole tournament playing the up-and-comers and young talent on tour. Ostapenko finished with a better winners to unforced error differential, but it was Williams’s serve that was the key factor – she hit 66% first serves in and won 78% of points behind it. Once again, experience prevailed.

Konta d. Halep, 6-7(2) 7-6(5) 6-4 (QF)

What a match! From a set down and two points away from defeat, Johanna Konta battled terrifically in a high-pressure situation to beat Simona Halep in three thrilling sets. Konta recovered from a break down at *1-4 to force a first set tiebreak. Halep was solid, but passive during the first part of the tiebreak and went 4-2 up on the changeover after a drive volley disaster from Konta. Halep outlasted Konta from the baseline and then became more aggressive at the end of the tiebreak. It was a fabulous set for Halep to win considering that Konta had landed 89% of first serves in.

Konta held from *0-30 down in the first game of the second set and just kept plugging away. The Brit was beginning to dictate more and more of the rallies, and was more assured closing points up at the net. Konta missed two break points at 4-3, both with missed returns. Konta also came close to the lucrative break at 5-4 where, having missed a lot of returns, she got a few into play, yet couldn’t finish off the points having built them so well.

Into another tiebreak and it was so intense – edge-of-your-seat tennis! A backhand lifted long by Kont meant that Halep was within two points of the match at *5-4 in the tiebreak. Konta held her nerve and won the last three points to force a decider. For Halep, I think she’ll remember those points at the end of the second set tiebreak where she became very passive. Konta was ultimately rewarded for being the bolder of the pair and going after her shots.

After a lengthy toilet break for Konta, the third set went with serve until Konta chalked up two break points at 2-2 *40-15 – having missed returns on most of her break points, Konta got a meaningful return into play and forced the error from Halep to break. She consolidated with a love hold and back-behind winner. Halep’s intensity noticeably dropped in the decider.

Serving for the match, Konta opened with a nervy forehand long. She followed it up though with a couple of great points – a backhand cross-court winner and a passing shot winner with Halep making a move forward. I’m gutted about what happened on match point as a lady screamed out loud during the rally with Halep dumping a ball in the net. Neither player deserved that ending.

A fantastic performance from Konta who battled so hard – a key stat was that she won 24 of 32 net points up at the net. This was another tough loss for Halep. Thrilled for Jo, but feeling bad for Simona!

Head-to-head record: Konta leads the head-to-head, 3-2 and the pair are split at 1-1 in 2017 encounters – Konta toughed out a tight two setter in Miami, 6-4 7-5, while Williams snapped a three match losing streak to the Brit with a 6-1 3-6 6-1 win on the clay courts of Rome. The pair have never played each other on grass.

Final thoughts: Considering Konta came into Wimbledon with a slight injury cloud after that fall in Eastbourne and having never previously made it past the second round of Wimbledon, she’s done a remarkable job. Konta has battled through three gruelling three setters, holding her nerve in some tense moments. The Brit has also had to deal with the media bubble surrounding her and I must say, she’s handled it all remarkably well. Everything will ramp up for the semi-finals.

Williams had a lot of stuff going on off the court, but she has looked so assured on it and dropped just the one set during this week in the second round against Wang Qiang. The serve has been fantastic and she’s shown her experience to see off some younger and huge hitting players. The way she handled Ostapenko, and did not let the winners flying past her phase her, really impressed me.

Both are looking in good form and have been serving well during the tournament. The crowd will obviously be behind Konta but I doubt this will phase Williams. Konta has dominated the head-to-head on hard courts and i’d guess the grass will favour Williams compared to previous matches.

Of all the matches so far this week, this is *the one* where i’m really struggling to pick a winner. Normally writing the preview helps and looking at the stats too, but it has made it no clearer for me!

Right now i’d say I am 51-49 in favour of Venus but honestly, on the fence with this one…

Photo in this post by mootennis.com

17 thoughts on “Venus Williams vs. Johanna Konta: Wimbledon 2017, Semi-Final Preview

    • I won’t give 30% chances to Rybarikova to win against Muguruza, maybe she can win a set with chances of 42%, but upset Mugu? hah.

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      • Who knows? Myguruza lost to players who love to slide – Strykova, Mladenovic and even Barty lately. If it is on hard court, I will go with Muguruza. Grass is Rybarikova best surface. Also, the lousy and uneven grass surface will play to Rybarikova advantage. I agree that this is Muguruza’ call (on paper) but….if Rybarikova holds her nerves well, she has a chance.

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  1. Credit to Konta because she began so tense and really played her way into form. Her serving was pretty solid! I do think Halep could have done much more on the Konta second serve- many of her returns were landing inside or close to the service box. I also think she should have fought to have the match point replayed…

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    • I thought the same about Halep’s return, she seemed to get a lot of back into play but Konta was still able to take control more often than not.

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  2. Pieman is right. I don’t see Venus winning a long grueling match. I think Konta is good enough to not lose in straights so I’m picking Konta to outlast Venus….

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    • Not sure I’ll get to watch it but will be sneakily following on radio likely! Originally felt Venus, swayed a little, but I will stick with Venus. She has served so well and handled some tricky opposition. I wonder if the experience of being in a Wimbledon semi-final, a huge moment, may favour her. I’ve been so, so impressed with how Konta has battled through these three setters. Must hand it to her, the pressure keeps building, but she continues to handle all the attention admirably. Looking forward to seeing how the match pans out. Hopeful it will be a good one!

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      • The thing that works against Konta is that she HAS shown nerves and gotten tight, her opponents have just not quite been able to translate that into a win for them. But Halep and Garcia lack the killer instincts that Venus, 5 time Wimbledon champion has. The poise and steely calm that Venus has shown this week has been pretty scary! It’s like she’s literally just carrying on where Serena left off…

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      • Indeed, she is in all kinds of ways. It’s just great to see her play so well at her age as well. Muguruza is looking to be like some game of attrition. I’m looking forward to this final, fascinating, hope it is something like Venus vs Davenport with that awesome 3rd set.

        Shame, no fresh Champion but both finalist are absolutely worthy grass courters. As Cibulkova said
        “It’s really tough sport. And if you’re not strong enough, then everybody else will eat you.” You’ve got to be steel. I hope Aga is watching; the kids are not coming, you’ve got to go out there effi**** play your heart out.

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  3. I’m torn one again. And, once again, I won’t be able to watch it 😦 I would love to because I like both players and would be happy for both of them.

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  4. You were right on both Semi, good calls, particularly Venus which was the far tougher match to predict. Also you were accurate when you stated that you didn’t expect a grueling match even if it goes 3 sets do to the nature of their games. It was a match dominated by serves, with very few long rallies….That’s why I read your content, drop some knowledge, and keep picking winner$!!!!

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