Friday, July 14, 2017

2017 WIMBLEDON: Women's Final Preview (and Semifinals Review)

Garbiñe Muguruza (ESP) [14] d. Magadalena Rybarikova (RUS) 6-1 6-1. This match ended up being more of a mismatch, as Muguruza was ruthlessly aggressive, repeatedly approaching the net to control the outcome of the point. The result of the match was also negatively impacted by the fact that Rybarikova was a bit overwhelmed by the occasion of playing in her first major semifinal and thus was unable to take advantage of her excellent return game. It was over in under an hour.

Venus Williams (USA) [10] dJohanna Konta (GBR) [6] 6-4 6-2This was expected to be a hard-fought, high-quality match with an uncertain outcome. For the first set it lived up to that billing, with Venus sneaking out the set after boldly saving two breakpoints (one with a 106 mph second unreturnable serve!) and an untimely Konta wobble.  Although Venus had one one ace (compared to Konta's 9) she won far more points by using well-timed body serves that Konta could not seem to handle at all. Some people said it was Venus's most impressive match of the tournament (I would argue that her straight sets dismissal of the reigning French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko in the quarterfinal was even more significant.) Venus is still hitting winners from every part of the court, but her error count was strikingly low, which demonstrates how well she is playing.

Women's Final Preview
The Williams sisters have won the Wimbledon title 12 of the last 17 years with only Petra Kvitova, Maria Sharapova, Amelie Mauresmo and Marion Bartoli breaking up their dominance. However, Venus has not been here since 2009, while Muguruza last played in the Wimbledon final in 2015. Head-to-head, Venus leads 3-1 but lost the last time they played, on clay in Rome. This was the first match that they played after Muguruza had become a major champion in her own right. 

Most people think that this is a very hard match to predict and I agree that I believe it will be close but I still think the person who is playing in their 16th career major final  (7W-8L) has an edge over the person playing in their 3rd career major final (1W-1L record). It is true that the last time there was such a sentimental favorite playing in a surprise Wimbledon final was 1994. That was Martina Navratilova against Conchita Martinez. In a shock, the Spanish clay courter beat the 9-time Wimbledon champion, denying Martina her 19th major title. Interestingly, Martinez is now coaching Garbine as she tries to deny a 5-time Wimbledon champion her 8th major title.

Looking at the x's and o's Venus is simply playing better tennis than Garbine. She is hitting more winners and aces than her opponent in the first six rounds and her forehand, which used to be a liability is now her weapon. Look out!

MadProfessah's prediction: Venus.

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