The final for Wimbledon 2021 is all set for Saturday and will be contested between the number one seed, Ash Barty and the number eight seed, Karolina Pliskova. Women’s semi-finals day at Wimbledon has been rather disappointing of late with a string of one-sided matches. Not this year as both semi-finals delivered with two of the best matches of the tournament. It was a great day of tennis! Read on for Thursday’s diary and the penultimate post from this year’s Wimbledon.
Day 1️⃣0️⃣ Highlights
(1) Ash Barty d. (25) Angelique Kerber, 6-3 7-6(3)
I silently had high hopes for Kerber-Barty. I was trying to temper my expectations because I was convinced Kerber-Muchova was going to be great and look how that one turned out 😂. Kerber-Barty delivered on my internal hype. For a time, it was on course to be a classic. I wanted three sets!!!
This was Barty’s best performance at Wimbledon by a country mile. Perhaps a bit of recency bias but I think it was her best match of the year?! Barty saved two break points in her opening service game which set the scene for the set as she was absolutely clutch on serve. Barty was down *15-30 in four of her five service games in the first set. Barty was notieably more aggressive than her recent matches and was able to play the match on her own terms. It was all about getting the ball on the forehand and more-often-than-not, the serve and the backhand slice, much more vicious than the previous rounds, allowed her to do that. The forehand was magnificent! As the set wore on, Kerber’s forehand down-the-line began to soar. It was a party of forehands. Barty saved another break point to close out the opening set, 6-3.
Kerber began rolling through her service games at the end of the first set and carried that momentum into the second set as she became increasingly aggressive and began to work those angles. The second set was remarkably similar to the first. Kerber broke Barty in her first service game and then carried the lone break through a few dicey moments to serve for the set. That’s where the similarities between the sets ended. Kerber blinked serving for the second set at *5-3 as Barty surged, playing two sensational games. The second set meandered into a tiebreak. Kerber looked tight with a pair of groundstrokes into the net and a double fault as Barty confidently brought up six match points at 6-0 in the tiebreak. Kerber mounted some late resistance but Barty held on, converting on her fourth match point.
It’s been uplifting to see this resurgence from Angie. Her game is just made for the grass! It was a shame how she ended the second set as she had played it almost perfectly up to 5-2. I am absolutely buzzing for Ash! She’s been steadily improving round-by-round, but this was a huge jump-up in quality. Barty has managed to play her way into form at this tournament. It’s quite a feat to bring this level and I think she knew it was required against Angie. As she said in her post-match interview, on Saturday Ash will get an opportunity to achieve her childhood dream…
(8) Karolina Pliskova d. (2) Aryna Sabalenka, 5-7 6-4 6-4
Pliskova-Sabalenka snapped a run of ten consecutive straight set semi-finals at Wimbledon. It was the first three set women’s semi-final since Muguruza-Radwanska all the way back in 2015. And it was one hell of a match! I was personally more invested in the first semi-final but this was a match of sky-high quality.
If ever there was a set to display the beauty of the tennis scoring system then it was the first set. Pliskova went zero for eight on break points, missing two break points at 2-2, two more at 3-3 and another four at 5-5. Sabalenka served exceptionally on the majority of them including a second serve ace at 5-5. Pliskova was rolling through her service games until *5-6 when she crumbled with a horrible drive volley miss and a double fault down set point.
Pliskova reacted to the disappointment in resilient fashion as she finally converted on a break point in the second set, breaking at love at 2-2. From there on, it was all Pliskova as she served out the second set and rode home an early break in the third set. The second set was peakkkk Pliskova as she produced some outstanding shotmaking. There were so many fun rallies in the final two sets which I really didn’t expect from this match!
Aside from that one dodgy service game by Pliskova in the first set, she was untouchable on serve. Sabalenka has taken apart her last two opponent’s second serve. Didn’t happen in this match with Sabalenka unable to make a dent on return and Pliskova winning 69% of points behind her second serve. Pliskova had the edge on serve and I thought she had the edge in the rallies too. Pliskova defended brilliantly, used the angles to her advantage and just handled everything that Sabalenka threw at her. I felt like something was missing from Sabalenka as she wasn’t able to blast away winners as Pliskova was onto everything in a flash.
I thought Pliskova played a fantastic match against Golubic in the quarters. This was next level. Just like Barty, this has to be Pliskova’s best match of the year? Possibly ever?! I’ve been thoroughly unconvinced by Pliskova all year and to be honest, felt like she was on a downward trend that wouldn’t right itself. I have to put my hands up, didn’t see this run coming AT ALL! Pliskova advances to her second Slam final on Saturday, nearly five years after her first at the US Open.
Super stat 🔢
Between them, Ash Barty and Karolina Pliskova won zero matches on the grass prior to Wimbledon. Now they’re in the Wimbledon final!
Best point 🎾
That first point 😍.
Hot shot 🔥
Funny moment 🤣
This made me laugh.
Snap of the day 📸
Recommended media 📺
Day 12 watchlist 📺
Thoughts about Saturday’s final can be found on the separate page here.
(1) Ash Barty vs. (8) Karolina Pliskova