Tuesday’s Set Points, Wimbledon 2018 Day 9: Kerber-Kasatkina Centre Court cracker, SF Previews

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.

Angelique Kerber

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

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.

Julia Goerges

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.

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21 thoughts on “Tuesday’s Set Points, Wimbledon 2018 Day 9: Kerber-Kasatkina Centre Court cracker, SF Previews

  1. The Kerber vs Kasatkina match is definitely one of the matches of the tournament! I was hoping it’d go to three sets.
    For all the seeds that are out and upsets, I couldn’t have pictured 2 better semi finals than what we have. I’m hoping Kerber vs Ostapenko is a cracker of a match but part of me is thinking since it’s the first time they’re playing one another, Kerber will chase down everything and force Ostapenko into error or she’ll just produce insane winners from all angle.

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    • Yes I wanted three sets! Even two sets, it was definitely one of the matches of the tournaments.

      Agreed, i’m excited about the SF line-up. I’m fascinated to see who comes out of the Kerber-Ostapenko match to reach the final.

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    • Really? Wow. I was so disappointed with the Kerber v Dasha match! It was just SO tense and nervy from both women, I don’t think either brought their best for more than a game at a time. I’d say it was one of the lowest quality matches that I’ve watched so far, even.

      I feel like it should be Kerber v Serena in the final, but Goerges and Ostapenko have every chance at making it if they come out swinging.

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      • Haha really?! Each to their own. There were some tense moments towards the end of the second set and Dasha did struggle to play her best consistently. What about that final game though?! I really loved this match.

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      • I thought the MP saves were terrific but they were followed with weak points and at that point it felt fairly certain Kasatkina, who hasn’t been ahead at any point in the whole match, was just clinging on in futile.

        I think had Dasha broken in the first game it would have been a totally different match.

        But I would compare the first set of Giorgi v Serena much higher than this match. Serena narrowly losing for being too conservative (she hit 6 winners and only 2 ufe) but Camilla just playing lights out tennis!

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      • Fair enough. The Kerber-Kasatkina match is the one that I will remember from this day. Granted, the quality in the first set of Williams-Giorgi was sensational. The final two sets didn’t do much for me.

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      • It was a pretty good match to say the least though.. I’m still waiting for that one match that will stick to my head for the women’s side
        I mean in 2014 it was Kerber vs Sharapova and Kvitova vs Venus. 2015 it was Vika vs Serena, 2016 it was the women’s final of a high quality and the Muguruza vs Kerber matches in 2015 and 2017 were amazing.
        I’m very fascinated with an Ostapenko vs Serena final if it comes to fruition.

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      • The best matchups are usually between a big hitter going for broke and a counter punchers trying everything to survive. This year we haven’t seen many great matchups of those kinds. The big hitters have played other big hitters and the counter punchers have played fellow defensive types.

        Kerber v Serena could be a GREAT match though.

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      • Ostapenko, I Hope she can bring her free hitting game in the semi finals. That could really light up the tournament. I believe Angelique can see the finish line so she will fight to get there. I enjoyed Daria’s game simply because it was loose and creative. But, it doesn’t win you matches like that. It reminded me of the likes of monfils etc. They can play some genius tennis for some games but mentally you know they are not locked in to winning the match. Kerber is focused on the final.
        I still like her, she’s full of passion and a talent as well. Needs to find some consistency and a decent serve for all surfaces she will be formidable.

        Like

  2. Wednesday’s big singles match of the day
    Bouchard playing in a clay ITF event in France. IMO a smart move for her.

    There are three ITF clay court events in Europe this week, two $100 events and one $60.
    I’m surprised at the lack of ‘name’ clay court players in these events, with only three weeks of clay events left.

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    • Paula Badosa (R#177) def Bouchard (R#188) 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 at the $100K ITF in Contrexeville, Fr

      Badosa is about the same height as Bouchard and has a good athletic body, but doesn’t have great power or great eye/hand coordination. The 20 y/o Badosa could become a top 100 player. Bodosa and Bouchard have similar games, but the match was decided on errors. Badosa hit an excellent running cross court passing shot with Bouchard at the net on match point.
      The court Bouchard played on included box seats, which is highly unusual for a ITF event. I suspect Bouchard received a pretty penny as an appearance fee.

      Like

  3. I enjoyed the Kerber vs. Kasatkina match apart from the result. I think that James has given a good summary of how Dasha is progressing well with some room for improvement regarding being patchy in some of her matches and that her serving needs to get better etc. Dasha said that she enjoyed every second of this match and tweeted that it was fun but she still has a lot to learn so it is good to hear that she is not getting ahead of herself. The final game was wonderful to watch and will remain in my memory for a long while and I was surprised that the incredible rally in it at deuce ( which Kerber won ) was not shown on ‘ Today at Wimbledon ‘ later on the BBC.

    The Ostapenko vs Cibulkova match was not as good as I hoped which was partly due to both players struggling with their serves in the 1st set and also because Cibulkova did not play as well as I expected. Ostapenko played some excellent tennis in the 2nd set and I enjoy watching her on court. She has been charming and more sporting recently and I hope this continues.

    I think that Kerber will win the semi final. She seems back to her best and is enjoying her tennis. I do not expect Ostapenko to be overwhelmed at all as she seems to relish the limelight and the big occasions but I think that she will need to serve and play more consistently than she did in the QF to beat Kerber.

    I’d love to see Goerges win Wimbledon. She played some very good tennis in the final set against Bertens and she is serving well and making plenty of aces. Serena will probably beat her but it could be close. I said that Vekic would beat Goerges and she did not & I said that Bertens would beat Goerges and she did not so I hope that I am wrong again when saying that Serena will beat her.

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    • I would’ve loved for Bertens to have come through but my fears played out as I had thought. Gorges was going to ask a lot of her, a little too much after raising her game against Pliskova. Gorges would make a worthy unexpected first time winner. Like Giorgi she can challenge Serena. From the presser it seems like she isn’t looking for scalps, just wanting to play the best tennis she believes she can. I hope she plays great. I feel both semifinals will be better than the finals, fingers crossed.

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      • Agreed (and with Peter too). Julia’s the only one of the four left in who has not so far won a slam, and I’d also be happy to see her win this one..

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    • Ostapenko doesn’t serve well enough to challenge Serena properly. And you can’t beat Serena hitting that many errors.

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      • Gauff(14y/o) vs Xiyu Wang(17y/o)
        Wang down a set and 0-3 started hitting with more pace, saving a MP and winning the 2nd 7-6(7-1).
        Both girls are hitting the tar out of the ball and look to have a good future in the WTA, and both are tall and good athletes.
        Wang up 4-3 in the 3rd is getting cramps and is no doubt finished.

        Like

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