Wimbledon Day 10 Preview: The Ladies’ Semifinals
We’re down to four women remaining in the ladies’ draw, with none of the top four seeds advancing to this stage. One is a five-time former champion who on Tuesday won her 100th Wimbledon singles match, and is the oldest ladies’ semifinalist at Wimbledon in 23 years. Another is a former major champion who struggled mightily in the year following her triumph, but is finally finding herself again. Then there’s the first British female semifinalist in 39 years, who until this year was 1-5 lifetime at the All England Club. And lastly we have a shocking semifinalist who was 453rd in the world just four months ago, and is now 18-1 on grass over the past month in main level and ITF-level events. Which two ladies will face off for the Venus Rosewater Dish on Saturday?
Garbine Muguruza vs. Magdalena Rybarikova
Muguruza has played like a woman reborn now that she is free of the pressure to back up and defend her 2016 French Open Title. Much credit must also be given to Wimbledon Champion Conchita Martinez, who has joined Muguruza’s team in the absence of her regular coach to help guide the fellow Spaniard back into form. This semifinal run from Rybarikova has come from almost nowhere: she arrived at SW19 with a 17-35 career record at the majors. Rybarikova dominated Coco Vandeweghe in Tuesday’s quarterfinals, and Coco plays a similar style of power tennis to Muguruza’s. Will Rybarikova be able to absorb Muguruza’s power and use it against her in the same way? These players have split four previous meetings, most notably and most recently on the grass of Birmingham two years ago. In that match, Rybarikova won easily, dropping only four games. Magdalena is yet to show any signs of being overwhelmed in her first time being past the third round of a major, but being in the Wimbledon semifinals on Centre Court must make an impression on her. Muguruza’s been here before, and has looked like a champion during this fortnight. It’s hard to imagine Garbine won’t find a way to overcome Rybarikova, but no one imagined Ostapenko would win Roland Garros either. Rybarikova would be an even more shocking major finalist.
Johanna Konta vs. Venus Williams
The two highest seeds remaining have already played each other twice in 2017. Konta defeated Venus in the Miami semifinals on a hard court, while Venus defeated Konta in Rome on clay. Konta is yet to figure out how to play on the clay, so her loss on the terra battue was not surprising. However, beating Venus on a hard court in her home state of Florida was impressive. The two have never met on grass, which is a surface that must favor the five-time Wimbledon champion over a player with only one previous match win at Wimbledon prior to this year. Konta has really embraced the British crowd support in her matches during this tournament, but I doubt the crowd will be quite as boisterous with a respected and popular champion in Venus Williams on the other side of the net. Venus has spent much less time on court than Konta in this fortnight: the American has only dropped one set and is yet to have a tight three-set battle, while Konta has already had three. It’s also important to consider this is Venus’ tenth Wimbledon semifinal, while Konta has never experienced the pressure of being one step from the championship match in her home country. Possibly the most significant statistic? Venus is 8-1 in Wimbledon semifinals, with her only loss coming last year to Angelique Kerber. Konta will need to draw upon all of the energy and inspiration of the home crowd to prevent Venus from advancing to her ninth Wimbledon singles final.