Thursday, July 13, 2017

2017 WIMBLEDON: Women's Semifinals Preview

Here are my predictions for the women's semifinals at the Wimbledon Championships for 2017. Last year I correctly predicted 1 of 2 men's semifinals and correctly predicted 2 of 2 women's quarterfinals. This year I correctly predicted 4 of 4 this year's women's quarterfinals and 2 of 4 men's quarterfinals.

Magadalena Rybarikova (RUS) vs. Garbiñe Muguruza (ESP) [14]. This is the first time Rybarikova has been past the 4th round of a major and she is all the way to the 6th round, which is quite impressive. She has previously been a runner up in the Girl's Wimbledon title (losing to Caroline Wozniacki) its so she clearly knows her way around a grass court.  Data shows that even though she does not have a huge serve she has one of the most effective return games, winning more than 50% of breakpoints.The problem with that is if she faces an excellent server (like Muguruza) she may not get very many opportunities to break. In fact, Muguruza has already dispatched two 2-time major champions in her last two round (Angie Kerber and Sveta Kuznetsova) so I seriously doubt that an unseeded player having the match of her life will prevent the 2015 Wimbledon finalist from returning to the Ladies championship match again this year. PREDICTION: Muguruza.

Venus Williams (USA) [10] vs. Johanna Konta (GBR) [6]This has a strong likelihood of being a scorcher of a match. Konta leads the head-to-head 3-2 but the two have never met on grass. In their very first meeting in November 2015 these two played one of the best matches of the year in Wuhan, and it was his performance that put Konta on the map for me, which was compounded when she summarily dismissed Venus in the first round of the Australian Open a few months later on her way to reaching her first major semifinal. Konta has had many of her biggest career moments mediated by a showdown with Venus. She won her first WTA title at Stanford beating Venus and she beat Venus (in the semifinals) on the way to winning the Miami Open this year. So it is probably not surprising she has to get through Venus to reach her first major final. Prior to last year Venus had never lost in a Wimbledon semifinal, but she still has a pretty impressive 7-1 record as she is trying to reach her 9th Wimbledon final (5-3 record). One interesting factor will be the British crowd, will they really be able to rot so heartily against a 37-year-old 5-time Wimbledon champion for an Australian-born player who just became a citizen 3 years ago? I suspect some in the Centre Court audience will be torn, and then the  question will be what impact will less than unanimous support have on Konta? Just looking at the level of play to reach this point one would have to give an edge to Venus since she still has not lost a set, while Konta has repeatedly had to come back from deficits to remain in the tournament. I do worry that if Venus loses a set (which I am almost certain that she will do) she won't have the wherewithal to gut out a 3rd. Hopefully, she won't have to, and she will continue to play the majestic tennis that has gotten her to this point. PREDICTION: Venus.

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