Wimbledon 2019, Day 8 Review: Semi-finals all set, Serena vs. Strycova & Svitolina vs. Halep

The last four is all set in singles after women’s quarter-finals day at Wimbledon. I went back to work this morning and have just one final afternoon of holiday to watch the semi-finals on Thursday! This post reviews the four quarter-finals, and also features media highlights of the day. Read on for Tuesday’s Set Points post from day 8 of Wimbledon 2019.

Match reviews 🎾

(11) Serena Williams d. Alison Riske, 6-4 4-6 6-3

Serena Williams ended the courageous run of Alison Riske, winning an exciting three setter on Centre Court. I thought Riske’s celebration on Monday after beating Ashleigh Barty was quite understated, almost of the tone of “bring on the next one”! Riske started this quarter-final brightly, twice going up a break in the first set. However, Serena started to zone on the return and played a sensational service game at *4-4.

As has been confirmed on numerous occasions this tournament, Riske never gives up and never stops fighting. She did so well at getting Serena on the move and in uncomfortable positions. Riske’s return was again superb today – she found the line with a return on break point at 4-3 before breaking with a volley winner. Riske confidently served out the second set.

The decider was a really gripping affair and the Centre Court crowd seemed to really embrace this match. Serena played one of her most convincing service holds of the entire match at *3-3. Riske came under pressure in her next service game and saved the second and third break points with bold, gutsy second serves. She couldn’t do it on the fourth going wide with a double fault but I respected that she went for it and knew she had to up against the Serena return. Serena served out the win to reach yet another Wimbledon semi-final. The American served 19 aces and I generally loved her use of angles which remains an underrated strength in her game.

(8) Elina Svitolina d. Karolina Muchova, 7-5 6-4

Elina Svitolina is into her first Slam semi-final… and at Wimbledon 😲. Svitolina survived an early barrage of peak Muchova play, rallying from 2-5 down in the first set to win five straight games. Svitolina didn’t panic when Muchova was dialled in and dictating at the net. Svitolina improved her depth and played a bit more aggressively. The game at 5-5 in the first set was nuts. Muchova saved four break points, all with fantastic winners, but just wasn’t consistent enough with a few too many unforced errors.

Muchova faded in the second set and wasn’t able to exploit Svitolina’s second serve. There was a late flurry from Muchova including another hot shot volley winner but Svitolina steadied herself and managed to serve out the match at the second time of asking. I’m really happy for Elina to finally make that breakthrough at a Slam and reach the final four. When you least expect it, Svitolina seems to enjoy some of her best results. As i’ve said before, I think Muchova is the real deal. She’s still relatively inexperienced on the tour and at this stage of Slams so i’m excited to watch her progress over the next few years.

(7) Simona Halep d. Zhang Shuai, 7-6(4) 6-1

Simona Halep rallied from a first set deficit to beat a fast-starting, Zhang Shuai. Halep saved four break points down *1-4 in the first set as Zhang came out firing winners all over the shop. The sixth game was the turning point as Halep got stuck in, chasing everything down and playing with better depth as she prevented Zhang from unloading. Halep increasingly began to control the points with relentless baseline aggression. Zhang started to miss a bit more as Halep forced her to take risks earlier in the rallies. Halep won the first set on the tiebreak and then rolled through the second set.

Early into this match, it looked like one of those days where Halep was going to get completely hit off the court. I thought she competed well and managed to halt Zhang’s rhythm. Once in control of the match, Halep never let up, making just 13 unforced errors for the entire match. Halep was also helped with her serve as she landed 76% of first serves in.

Barbora Strycova d. (19) Johanna Konta, 7-6(5) 6-1

The final match of the day produced the only “upset” of the four quarter-finals as Barbora Strycova produced a typically bamboozling display on the grass to beat Johanna Konta in straight sets. Strycova made life so awkward for Konta who was mostly error-strewn from the middle of the first set. It was just not Jo’s day.

Strycova returned exceptionally well and neutralised Konta’s serve which has been a real weapon for her over the past few months. Curiously, Konta won more points behind her second serve (64%) than the first serve (51%). Strycova slowed down the pace and took the buzz out of her opponent and the crowd to claim a historic win.

Stat watch πŸ”’

Halep’s grass-court pedigree never really gets mentioned but her record at Wimbledon is decent as she’s reached the last eight in Wimbledon in three of her last four appearances. Svitolina and Strycova have both broken new ground to reach their first ever Slam semi-finals. Meanwhile, Serena is into her 12th (!) Wimbledon semi-final.

Point of the day πŸ‘

A great point in the first set of Zhang-Halep.

Hot shot of the day πŸ”₯

Muchova played some fabulous points at the net today 😍.

Handshakes and hugs πŸ€—

A nice moment at the net between Simona Halep and Zhang Shuai. The Chinese player had some lovely words about Simona in press via WTA Insider.

Super snap πŸ“Έ

Love this shot of a jumping-for-joy, Elina!

Recommended media πŸ“Ί

Jo Konta’s press conference is linked below. The tone of one of the journalists at 3:30 was completely out of order.

WTA News πŸ“°

GarbiΓ±e Muguruza has finally parted ways with coach, Sam Sumyk. Fascinated to see who Garbi pairs up with next…

Thursday’s OOP ⭐

Thursday’s semi-finals are all set. Who you got?

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22 thoughts on “Wimbledon 2019, Day 8 Review: Semi-finals all set, Serena vs. Strycova & Svitolina vs. Halep

  1. My heart wants Elina to beat Simona, and we all know she is capable of doing it, but my head thinks Halep will win. The Serena/Strycova clash is really intriguing, because it could go either way to be honest. Babz has a game that could frustrate Serena, and we’ve seen Serena get tight in big matches the past couple of years. It could easily be a straight sets thumping too, though!

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    • I feel like Svitolina has been the underdog all tournament and will be in this semi-final too so it wouldn’t surprise me if she reaches the final. I did just read on Twitter that Svitolina has never played on Centre Court before!

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      • Centre court plays a little slower than 1, so it might even help her out. Historically, Simona has had trouble getting the ball past Elina. The only two wins Halep has over Elina were gigantic collapses from the Ukraine being up 51/52 and getting tight closing out. So it will be interesting if that factors at all…

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      • Strangely, I quite like Svitolina’s chances in this semi-final. I feel she’s been beatable through much of the tournament and I had her out a few times. She did get a bit fortunate against Gasparyan in the second round but she’s been very steady and I thought she was smart against Muchova. She said in her press about making it a physical match after Muchova’s match vs. Pliskova.

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  2. Just a word on the Jo Konta interview. I think Aga Radwanska should thank her lucky stars that she isn’t British. Since the only thing that matters to the public and much of the press is whether or not a player wins Wimbledon, can you imagine the headlines she’d have got in our papers in the course of her career? “Sadwanska crashes out again”, or “The Aga saga goes on”?

    I’m sad Jo didn’t make it further into the tournament this time and I’m sure most of us are, but these things happen in women’s tennis and it shouldn’t detract from the fact that Jo was up against a very good and crafty opponent who’s clearly at the top of her game at the moment. I didn’t see the match but I gather Bara kept on getting Jo’s serves back and this seems to have affected Jo’s confidence to the point where she lost her mojo in the match, so it was a psychological problem on her part. Nice hug at the net after the match though; the players clearly respect each other.

    Onto the semifinals. I’d like to see a Barbora-Elina final but I think both Serena and Simona are going to be too good (though I could be wrong; if Roberta Vinci could beat Serena in a slam, Bara, who’s got a somewhat similar game, could too).

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    • Good point, Graham! Some of the British media are awful. I keep seeing articles shared on Tennis Twitter with these dramatic headlines. I wish people would just ignore them because it’s giving them clicks and attention which is just what they want.

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    • The British press are all or nothing. They either hype a player as being the second coming of Christ, or they tear them apart. It’s one of the reasons I respect Andy Murray so much, even if I’m not particularly a fan of his game or his on court demeanor, because he’s handled the pressure splendidly.

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    • πŸ™‚ If at the start of the tournament, a certain sorcerer had told you there was a 1 in 14,000,605 chance that Strycova will be playing Svitolina in a Wimbledon grass court final, would you still be bold to pick this. Svitolina making the final is even more believable than Strycova. Anyway, it’s just good for the women’s tennis. Svitolina virtually escaped defeat in round 2 when Gasparyan retired with injury. It may be a sense of providence for her.

      Yes, Jo did seem to fall apart in her match, but nothing was gifted to Strycova. She earned her semi place from her own play. It kind of reminded me of the way Halep went about her game against the young CoCo. Coco, I think was fortunate to get by Hercog who I feel run out of steam mentally/physically. When Strycova is playing well, she is a handful at the very least. She can beat Serena, although unlike the Us Open against Vinci, this is Wimbledon grass with different/less pressures for Williams. Even if Serena makes the final, I wonder how her mixed doubles run with Andy will affect her conditioning.

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      • Can I just say that I don’t like the whole narrative that had Gasparyan not retired, she would have won. Nothing in tennis is so certain, and unless I’m mistaken Svitolina had the momentum at the time Margarita began cramping.

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      • Oh I didn’t mean to imply that. Just that Gasparyan did have Svitolina on the ropes for a time and she was only two points away. Gasparyan was a bit impatient in a few rallies at 5-4 and then I think it was the next game when she started cramping.

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      • It’s a fair dislike Andrew, it’s as subjective an opinion as they come. But sometimes as a neutral observer, you may feel an opponent has the edge over a player in a game. Granted Svitolina played better than she had on grass 2 weeks prior, Gasparyan still, in my opinion, had the stronger game. I could say, the cramping had began even before the spectators could observe it and it was the reason why Svitolina was gaining the momentum. Likewise, Osaka came up against Putintseva for the second time, and she was just outfoxed this time. Something about Yulia she can’t seem to overcome.

        You know I don’t wish ill on Svitolina, infact, I expected her to use the moment as motivation to play well on the grass as she has done. She’s been quite smart about her play. You can see her joy with every game she’s won thereafter.
        Remember, I’ve always argued that I wanted her to use her natural game to get herself to a slam final, and win it. Wouldn’t impress all her naysayers but would do wonders for herself and her fans.

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      • Sure, it’s your personal opinion and you were very polite in how you put it across. Others (including former players like Courier) have made out like Svitolina didn’t deserve to get through, which is just disrespectful!

        I agree about her natural game. Her best tennis is when she’s being really aggressive, but it doesn’t seem that she can play it (or sustain it) in pressure moments against the very best. I thought she was more true to her own tennis in Singapore than she usually is and look how that worked out for her! I get the impression that Elina herself would agree with us too- she made a comment this week that she often disagrees on tactics with Andy. Wouldn’t be surprised if we see them parting in the near future.

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  3. Ha! Got it! πŸ˜› For a moment there you had me thinking, you didn’t believe in good fortunes, lucky escapes, sorcerers..maybe even unicorns πŸ™‚ . I was about to say even Djokovic looks up to the heavens, mumbles and signs to the firmaments after his victories!

    On a serious note though, I thought she was going to get a new coach after the Australian open, but still keep Andrew Bettles as a hitting partner and someone to sound off on. Andy is quite young, and I thought she may go for an experienced head to chase a slam title. If she does win Wimbledon, I feel he may just hang around for a while longer seeing as he is also her ‘travelling coach’.

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    • You could well argue that in this case Svitolina made it a physical battle, which resulted in her opponent cramping. Which would mean fortune and luck had little to do with it.

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  4. I agree in general with other comments here about the Press being interested all too often in sensation, controversy, failure and the rest. But – and I’m very happy to be corrected – I thought that particular journalist’s questions to Konta, to which she objected, were fair and reasonable ones. If the tone they were asked in is objected to, I still can’t see a problem with how he asked his questions.

    It seems to me that people just don’t like direct and pertinent questions. I can understand why she wasn’t happy to hear them (who would be, she’d just lost an important match which most thought she’d win), but I still think they were reasonable questions to ask.

    Konta handled it all well though.

    By the way, for anyone who’s missed it and is interested, here’s Serena’s recent article about the 2018 US Open. I’m not that impressed by it.

    harpersbazaar.com/culture/features/a28209579/serena-williams-us-open-2018-essay

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    • What were you not that impressed with? My only real thoughts are that she didn’t need to say any of it, because she isn’t going to convince anybody who isn’t already convinced of what she’s saying…

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      • Fair point about why did she bother. Well, we call make up our own minds about that.

        I admire Williams deeply as a tennis player. She is the best player ever. I watch her and I enjoy watching. But the article was terrible and I assume that must be a reflection of her attitude. It was all about her, when a good part of it was supposed to be about making amends to Osaka, about how she wish she hadn’t spoiled Osaka’s day by making it all about herself, but then makes the whole article all about herself, sometimes in a self-pitying way. She can’t even see that obvious point. She’s also unduly preoccupied with identity, and this is explicit in the article, when she writes about not wanting the light shining away from Osaka, especially because she’s a black woman. Why especially because of that? Do others sometimes deserve less recognition for their achievements because they don’t have those characteristics? The only relevant thing is the tennis and how well a player plays. The article also somewhat misrepresents – again – why she was given the game penalty. I can’t work out if she really does believe what she says on this point. Perhaps best not to go over the point again in these comments (okay, I will), but it’s as clear as anything in the penalty schedule section of the Slam rules why she (rightfully) was penalised – and her claim men are not subject to the rules in the same way is fantasy.

        The whole article is self-absorbed and she plays the victim far too much.

        Apart from that, I loved it.

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      • Well in this article Serena quotes Osaka’s response to her apology letter, which Serena viewed as being justification for her reactions in the match. Naomi encourages her showing strength and being a trailblazer, even if that is mistakenly viewed for anger.

        Why “especially a black woman” – I mean, do i even need to explain this one?

        I’m not going to get into the penalty discussion again. All I’m going to say is that rules are not rules when they are not exercised consistently, fairly or objectively.

        Again… it’s not going to change anybodies mind. I do feel like Serena is a victim and she has been for her whole career. I have empathy for how she felt robbed in that moment, and therefore that her reaction to this was understandable, given the occasion and what it meant to her.

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