Friday, July 12, 2019

2019 WIMBLEDON: Women's Final Preview (and Semifinals Review)

Serena Williams (USA) [11] vs Simona Halep (ROU) [7]

This is my prediction post for the 2019 Wimbledon women's final. Last year I did not predict that Angie Kerber would defeat Serena WilliamsThis year I correctly predicted the results of  2 of 2 men's semifinals, 2 of 2 women's semifinals, 4 of 4 men's quarterfinals and 3 of 4 women's quarterfinals


Serena Williams (USA) [11] d. Barbora Strycova (CZE) 6-1 6-2.  This was a devastating performance by Serena; she had 28 winners to just 10 errors. Although there was much ink spilled about how Strycova was replacing Roberta Vinci as the oldest first-time major semifinalist and what this might portend for Serena's chances to win this match. However, by playing first-strike tennis Serena was able to rush her opponent and not give her a chance to deploy her net-based skills and tricky spins Strycova also did not player her best. She attempted multiple drop shots that failed to clear her side of the net and suffered double faults at inopportune times. For Serena it was an awe-inspiring performance.

Simona Halep (ROU) [7] d. Elina Svitolina (UKR) [8] 6-1 6-3. Each of the first two games of this match were extremely high quality and were tense, 10-minute affairs that featured over 10 deuces between them, and multiple break points and game points and very long rallies. But Halep won both of these games and did not look back from there as she served out the set quickly. In the second set Svitolina put up much more fight but once the first break happened Halep took advantage and never looked back.


Despite now holding the record for the oldest woman to appear in a major final, Serena has to be considered the overwhelming favorite to win her 24th major title. Serena has a dominant 9-1 head-to-head record against Simona Halep. But this is the third time in a year when she had an opportunity to win her 24th major title and in the first two (2018 Wimbledon loss to Angie Kerber and 2018 US Open loss to Naomi OsakaSerena was unable to play anywhere close to her best tennis. Most observers attributed these results to Serena's nervousness and tension caused by finally confirming her G.O.A.T status by winning her 24th title. I agree that the emotional/mental side was part of the reason she lost those matches (especially the  US Open final) but also she never looked like she was moving as well as she has in the past and her serve was not as effective as it has been in this tournament. With all that said, I think Halep has a non-trivial chance to win the match. The courts are playing more like a clay court and Halep is a better mover than Serena on clay (or slow) courts. She will get a lot of balls back in play and this may frustrate Serena if she has to hit 2 or 4 winners to win the point. But I think Serena will be mentally prepared and physically to do so. MadProfessah's pick: Serena.  

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