The final four is set at Wimbledon 2018 after Tuesday’s quarter-finals. There has been plenty of talk about no top ten seeds left after the last 16. I think this is yet another example of the depth that currently exists on the WTA tour because the quality of players left and these quarter-finals are totally legit. Read on for 10 stories in a bumper Set Points including recaps of the QF matches and previews of the SF matches. I should split these up but i’m really spent and am hitting the wall. My Wimbleholiday is now over and I am feeling blue!
Kerber vs. Kasatkina (Wimbledon, QF)
Angelique Kerber needed seven match points to see off Daria Kasatkina in a Centre Court cracker, 6-3 7-5. This is the best Kerber-Kasatkina match that i’ve seen in terms of the quality of tennis. The final game is probably the best game i’ve seen all year and I was screaming the house down!
In her first match on Centre Court, Kasatkina looked a little nervous to start with. Kasatkina started to find her mojo down two break points at *1-4, coming up with a trademark jumping backhand winner. Kasatkina got the break back, but remained iffy on serve as she handed it straight back with two double faults in the game. Kerber was a complete rock in the first set, serving out to 15 and hitting seven winners to just *two* unforced errors.
Kerber was three times up a break in the second set. Kasatkina kept pegging her back. There were flashes of absolute brilliance from Kasatkina as she played some really positive and precise points. However, this was not sustained and she continued to look vulnerable on her serve. A key point for Kasatkina was at *4-4 *30-0 where she had a simple putaway which she pushed long. Kerber went onto break in that game. Kerber generally seemed to tighten and tire towards the end of the second set but played well on the return games and earnt a second opportunity to serve for the match again at *6-5.
This game was absolutely bonkers and will be one that is remembered come the end of the year. Wimbledon even produced a video of the final game. It was THAT good. Kasatkina produced some absolutely remarkable shots down match point. I’ll read off the list of what Dasha did, but PLEASE WATCH THE VIDEO LINKED BELOW.
- MP #1 – A drop shot that brought Kerber into the net who went long down-the-line with the forehand
- MP #2 – One of the most powerful forehands i’ve ever seen Kasatkina hit, cross court for the winner
- MP #4 – Kasatkina drop shot from outside of the court – insane!
- MP #5 – A jumping backhand followed by a deft drop shot winner
The pair played the point of the match and perhaps the tournament at deuce where Kasatkina slipped in the corner of the court but got back into the point, drew Kerber into the net with a drop shot but Kerber put away the volley. I screamed so loud. Kerber eventually scored the win on her seventh match point with her trademark forehand down-the-line. AMAZING.
Props to Kerber who kept bringing up the match points and didn’t face a break point in that final game despite all of Kasatkina’s hot shot heroics. I think this is noteworthy because Kerber did have those missed match points against Wozniacki in Eastbourne. The German player also saved set points in the second set vs. Bencic. Kerber is into her third semi-final at Wimbledon and her second Slam semi-final of the year. Without doubt, she’s been one of the most consistent players in 2018.
Daria Kasatkina has come a long way in 2018… and she’s still got a long way to go! Back-to-back Slam quarter-finals is a big achievement. I feel that grass can be really good for her game because it almost forces her to be aggressive. The way she was hitting her forehand during the last three rounds was something I haven’t really seen, bar Indian Wells earlier this year. I’m so pleased she managed to bring her style on Centre Court and it was clear that the crowd were totally into this match. Some of those match point saves were simply extraordinary and will be in my Best of series posts come the end of 2018!
While producing an array of hot shots, it wasn’t sustained enough from Kasatkina to rival a very solid Kerber. This is something that i’ve been barking on about for ages with Kasatkina. She is still patchy in matches and struggles to maintain a gameplan. This happened in today’s quarter-final as she went through spells of playing peak, aggressive tennis but then would disappear for the next few games. Against someone of Kerber’s calibre and against the best, this just won’t cut it. Sometimes she reminds me of how I play table tennis – I can make these crazy, wild shots that just don’t make sense, but then I miss the easy, straightforward ones!
Kasatkina’s serve is also an area of concern and needs to improve. She’s got time on her side! I feel the serve is better than people make out but it does seem to suffer when she’s nervous and/or feeling pressure. There’s been plenty of progress this year and I was rather taken aback to notice that Kasatkina is currently in the top eight for Singapore on the live rankings.
Keep going, Dasha.
Kasatkina Press Conference
Wimbedon have done an amazing job this week at posting all the press conferences on the website. I’ve spent entire evenings watching them all and it’s been so refreshing to have this kind of access.
Kasatkina’s quarter-final press conference can be found HERE. She spoke about going to Centre Court before the actual match and that she is so pleased she did this! She talked about being mentally “dead” at Eastbourne and here at Wimbledon, and recognised that this is what the top players are so good at, being able to perform when not mentally 100%. Dasha picked out her favourite shot of the match which was a jumping backhand drop shot winner. I haven’t yet found a video of this one!
Ostapenko vs. Cibulkova (Wimbledon, QF)
Despite double streaming the first two quarter-finals, I was so engrossed in Kerber-Kasatkina that I didn’t get to see a great deal of the first match on No.1 Court between Jelena Ostapenko and Dominika Cibulkova. Ostapenko produced another lethal display of hitting to win, 7-5 6-4.
I wrote about the dynamic on serve being key to this match in my QF preview with both being very aggressive on return. Despite serving well for much of the tournament, Cibulkova’s second serve was absolutely ripped to shreds by Ostapenko as she won just eight out of 30 points behind it. In stark contrast, Ostapenko’s second serve held up remarkably well, winning 15 of 25 points behind it.
In a tight opening set with what seemed like few rallies, Ostapenko won 12 of the last 13 points. Cibulkova did well to stay with Ostapenko in the second set but increasingly struggled to make an impact on return as Ostapenko finished the match with consecutive love service holds.
Ostapenko is into her first Slam semi-final at Wimbledon. She is the only semi-finalist not to have dropped a set at this year’s tournament. The closest she came was back in the first round where she saved a pair of set points against the Brit wild card, Katy Dunne. Cibulkova was very complimentary of Ostapenko’s level in her press conference and said that Ostapenko didn’t allow herself to play the way she wanted. Cibulkova hit just six winners in the match!
S.Williams vs. Giorgi (Wimbledon, QF)
Serena Williams fought back from a set down to defeat Camila Giorgi, 3-6 6-3 6-4 in a high quality Centre Court encounter. Giorgi played a fantastic first set. The Italian player was not phased at all by Williams on the other side of the net and was so aggressive, stepping inside the baseline and pushing Willliams back. Giorgi was very successful behind her first serve and and saved four break points at *4-2. Williams dropped just four points on serve in the first set. All four points came in the one game where she was broken!
Williams remained a demon on serve throughout the rest of the match and unlike the first, had no lapses in any service games. Williams dropped just ten points (!) on serve during the final two sets. Williams managed to get the first break on the Giorgi serve at 2-1 in the second set with some returns deep down the middle of the court. It felt like Williams adjusted and got used to Giorgi’s speed and pace as the match developed. It was noticeable in the third set that Giorgi wasn’t as sharp or decisive in her groundstrokes. While she battled well on serve, Giorgi made barely any imprint on Williams’s service games in the final two sets.
Williams moves into her 11th semi-final at Wimbledon and is just two wins away from #24!
Goerges vs. Bertens (Wimbledon, QF)
The second match on No.1 Court between Julia Goerges and Kiki Bertens was so much better than I expected it to be. I thought it would be riddled with nerves but it was actually decent for the most part. Goerges came from a set down to beat a fading, Bertens, 3-6 7-5 6-1 and reach her first Slam semi-final!
There wasn’t much in the first set with Bertens saving a break point at *3-3 and then managing to break in the next game. Goerges’s stats were on the whole better, yet Bertens won the key points. Goerges’s forehand made more of an impact in the second set. Despite missing some opportunities including letting slip a 4-1 lead, the German player didn’t get down on herself and won the second set.
I felt something change in Bertens towards the end of the second set. Her footwork looked off, she was going for some wild shots and generally didn’t quite seem to be there mentally. Goerges got the break and played a couple of peak games right at the end to sail into the semi-finals.
Goerges and Bertens shared a wonderful embrace at the net. I was so happy these two made the QFs and am thrilled for Goerges that she’s finally made this breakthrough at a Slam. It’s well deserved and and further validates the last year where she has improved immensely. I just can’t believe it came on the grass but then again, this is the WTA where we all know to expect the unexpected.
Semi-Final Preview #1: Kerber vs. Ostapenko
Ring the bells again! New match-up alert! 🔔🔔🔔
I really can’t believe Kerber and Ostapenko have never played each other before on tour.
I think generally speaking Kerber likes playing the big hitters because she is great at defending, running and redirecting pace. I do wonder whether Ostapenko’s level of hitting may be good enough to hit through but then again, Kerber is playing with a great deal of confidence and making so few errors at this tournament. Kerber’s serve has looked impressive too although I did feel some of her second serves were sitting up against Kasatkina and could of got the treatment.
Most impressive for Ostapenko this week is how she has managed to deal with mini-setbacks and play well in the key moments. First match against Katy Dunne she faced two set points. She saved them and won in straights. Against Aliaksandra Sasnovich, she was down 2-5 in the first set and got a code violation for coaching. She came back to win the first set on the tiebreak and eased through the second set. Even against Cibulkova, she found her best level at *4-5 when it really counted.
I’m really on the fence with this one. I think Kerber has been so steady this tournament that a lot comes down to Ostapenko’s level. Kerber’s the safe pick, Ostapenko is the slightly risky pick. I’d probably side with the latter in how Ostapenko has handled the setbacks and with the grass clearly suiting her game. I LOVE Kerber on grass but i’m worried about if peak Ostapenko makes an appearance. It’s going to be a fascinating match for sure.
Semi-Final Preview #2: Serena Williams vs. Julia Goerges
The pair played just last month at the French Open where Serena Williams played her best match at Roland Garros, winning 6-3 6-4 in the third round. My big concern for Goerges is her mindset for this match and whether she’s happy and content about achieving a first Slam semi-final or whether she wants and expects more. I do question whether deep down, she has the belief that she can beat Serena Williams in the semi-finals of Wimbledon. Serena had that first real test against Giorgi and my hunch is she’ll be on it. Serena has won her last nine Wimby semi-finals. I really hope Julia can bring her best to the table and I think she’ll need to to stand a chance! I’m going for Serena in straights.