Kerber Breezes Into Wimbledon Final - UBITENNIS
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Kerber Breezes Into Wimbledon Final

Too many unforced errors for Ostapenko. Fourth Major final for Angelique Kerber, second at Wimbledon

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The first of the two Ladies’ semifinals was considered the more uncertain of the day, since it was showcasing the two highest seeds left in the draw, both of them former Major champions and with only two ranking places to divide them (Angelique Kerber n.10 and Jelena Ostapenko n.12).

Strangely, the two had never met before, but it wasn’t difficult to predict a match with Ostapenko firing blistering groundstrokes from the baseline and Kerber playing her proverbial defensive game returning the balls long enough to drive the Latvian player into an unforced error. However not many people expected such a one-sided end to the match, in which Ostapenko sank under the weight of 36 unforced errors in 18 games (a clean average of 2 errors per game) coupled with 25 more forced errors that made her task impossible.

During the coolest day of this year’s Championships, Ostapenko started the match with the clear intention to take control of the rally on her serve and close the point on her first or second shot. She knew her deep shots push her opponent away from the baseline, therefore in the first few games, she successfully produced a few winning drop-shot on both sides. However, her hopes were short-lived, as errors started mounting and Kerber took control of the match. From 3-3 in the first set, the German player won six games in a row to dig a very deep hole between herself and her opponent. With only 2 unforced error in the first set (against 19 by Ostapenko) and an astonishing 89% first serve percentage, Kerber kept very good control of her service games, cancelling the only break point she conceded in the set (at 2-3) with her first ace of the match.

Kerber broke for 2-0 in the second set thanks to a backhand drop shot and an unforced error by Ostapenko. She served for the match on 5-1 when she probably showed some tension for the first time in the whole afternoon and allowed Ostapenko to attempt a comeback with a 6-point streak that brought the Latvian back into contention. Two games later, serving again for the Wimbledon final at 5-3, she had to face another break point, but Ostapenko netted a backhand return on a second serve, she repeated the same shot on the following point and her final forehand unforced error ended the match after a mere 68 minutes.

I was expecting that she would play like she played from the beginning: really hard, pushing me back – said Kerber after the match – I was trying to remain focused and playing every single point because she started really well. Then I was just trying to find my rhythm and take my chances when I had them. In the second set, it was a little bit at the end; tricky because you never know what’s going on. She can be down, then she is coming stronger back. So I was trying to stay in the moment“.

After a 2017 season that saw a big slump following a magic 2016, Kerber is now confident that her game is back to where it should be and she has surrounded herself of the best possible team:  “I think I changed a few members of my team. I was doing a good pre-season. Also with Wim [Fissette], with fitness coaches, some physios, my whole team, I think they helped me a lot to come back, to really believe in myself again. We have been working together for six months now. I think we are on a good path. But I know that there is still some work to do. But for the moment we are happy how it’s working“.

Jelena Ostapenko met the press over two hours after the end of her semifinal and she had some surprising remarks about Centre Court: “First of all, I think the Centre Court is much slower than the other courts I played before. I think she had really many advantages because of that. My shots were not that effective on such a slow court. But in general, I think she was defending quite well and she was also serving quite well today“.

When it was 5-3, I had a couple of breakpoints, I felt the match could turn the other way – continued Ostapenko – She started already to miss a couple of balls which she didn’t before because she was playing very consistent during the whole match. But then, again, I was rushing too much and hit some unforced errors, which I shouldn’t, of course. Then the match finished“.

After a disappointing French Open, where she was ousted in the first round as defending champion, Jelena feels that she has now regained her confidence back: “At the French Open, obviously, [my confidence] was not there because I had to defend such a big title, and I didn’t play my best at all. But I think every match here I was winning and I was getting my confidence back. Just every match I was playing better and better. Unfortunately today the result is not the one I wanted, but I was still fighting out there“.

On Saturday Kerber will play her fourth Major final: she has won two but her only defeat dates back to Wimbledon 2016 when she lost to Serena Williams.

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Krejcikova Comes Alive With Her Serve To Win 12th Grand Slam Title At Wimbledon

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image via x.com/wimbledon

It must have seemed like the whole world was against her when Barbora Krejcikova served for the match for a third time against crowd favorite Jasmine Paolini.

But Krejcikova was only going for her 12th Grand Slam title. She was well prepared.

So, she released her patented way-out-wide serve to the smallish Paolini’s backhand, and the best the Italian could do was get her racket on the ball enough to return the serve far off the court, long and wide.

ARMS UP FOR A CHAMPION

The weight of the world was gone as Krejcikova threw her arms over her head and calmly walked to the net to greet the Wimbledon runner-up.

Now, Krejcikova was half-way home to a career Grand Slam in singles. She already owns a career Grand Slam in doubles among her dozen Grand Slam titles that also include one mixed doubles Grand Slam title.

She has won the hard ones, the French Open on clay and Wimbledon on grass.

At 28 years old, anything must look possible to this 5-10 Czech.

KREJCIKOVA COMES THROUGH UNDER PRESSURE

Paolini simply was out played in a second straight Grand Slam final, on clay and on grass. Now she faces the real tests, two straight Grand Slam tournaments on hard surfaces that might not be overly friendly to the 5-4 Paolini.

But there it was, a 6-2, 2-6, 6-4 victory for Krejcikova on Wimbledon’s famed Center Court.

After what might be called a throw-away second set for Krejcikova, she came alive in the third set, pinning Paolini to the deep corners while nailing low hard-hit balls to both corners.

Krejcikova got off to 40-0 starts on her first four service games of the decisive set and ended all four with service winners to take a 5-3 lead (with the aid of the only service break of the third set). She yielded only one point in those four service games, a double fault at 40-0 that was followed by an ace.

Of course, it was the serve again that saved the day for Krejcikova and gave her set points two and three, then sealed the deal for a spot in Wimbledon history.

James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award  for print media. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com. 

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Wimbledon Finalist Jasmine Paolini – ‘I’m A Little Bit Scared To Dream Too Much’

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After coming close to her maiden Grand Slam title at Wimbledon, Jasmine Paolini believes consistency is key to having another shot at glory.

The 28-year-old dropped only one set en route to becoming the first Italian woman to reach a Wimbledon final. However, she was denied the title by Barbora Krejcikova, who won in three sets. Paolini was broken once in the decider which was due to a double fault from the Italian following an unsuccessful hawk-eye challenge made on her first serve. Then she failed to convert two break points when down 4-5 before Krejcikova held to seal glory.

“I started bad,” she reflected afterwards.

“I took some time and try to relax and to come back in the second set stronger to try to push the ball more because I was a little bit controlling too much, and I missed a lot of shots.

“She was playing, honestly, very good the first set. She was serving really, really good. High percentage of first serves.

“It was tough but I think I did better than the last final (at the French Open), but still it’s not enough.”

Prior to Saturday, Paolini had scored wins over former US Open champion Bianca Andreescu, Medison Keys (via retirement) and a marathon victory over Donna Vedic. She has now won 15 Grand Slam matches in 2024 compared to just one last season.

The defeat comes less than two months after the French Open where Paolini contested her first major final but lost in two sets to world No.1 Iga Swiatek. Since the start of this season, she has risen more than 20 places in the rankings and will reach No.5 on Monday.

Despite being in her late 20s, the Italian is producing some of her best tennis on the Tour. Something she credits to a combination of things. 

“I improved my game a little bit. I believe more in myself. I improved my serve. I think I improve the return.” She explained.

“I think physically I’m better than two years ago. I’ve been working with a new fitness coach for one-and-a-half years.

“There are many things, I think. Not just one. I think also winning matches helps a lot.”

Whilst she is heading in the right direction on the Tour, Paolini has vowed not to get too ahead of herself.

“Sometimes I’m a little bit scared to dream too much.” she said.

“I’m going back, trying to practice and stay in the present. This is the goal for me and my team, to try to keep this level as much as possible.

“If I keep this level, I think I can have the chance to do great things.

“Today I was dreaming of holding the (Wimbledon) trophy but it didn’t go well.

“I’m just enjoying the position where I am right now.”

Paolini has won 30 out of 43 matches on the Tour so far this season.

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Jasmine Paolini’s Wimbledon Run Hailed By Italian Prime Minister

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Image via x.com/twitter

The Prime Minister of Italy has praised Jasmine Paolini for lighting up the hearts of others during her Wimbledon run. 

Paolini missed out on her first Grand Slam title to Barbora Krejcikova, who prevailed in three sets to capture her second major trophy. Despite her defeat, she has made history at the tournament by becoming the first female player from her country to reach the final. Until this year, she had never won a Tour-level main draw match on the grass. 

Whilst disappointed about missing out on the biggest title of her career, Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni posted a tribute to Paolini on social media just moments after the final had concluded.

“Proud of Jasmine Paolini,” The Agenzia Nazionale Stampa Associata (ANSA) quotes Meloni as saying. 

“The first Italian tennis player to reach the final of the prestigious Wimbledon tournament. 

“Despite the defeat, you lit up the hearts of the Italian people, succeeding in conveying grit and passion to all of us who supported you”. 

Paolini is the first player ranked outside the top five to reach the final of both Wimbledon and the French Open within the same year since the ranking system was introduced in 1975. She is also only the fourth female player in the Open Era to have reached her first two Grand Slam finals in the same year at Roland Garros and Wimbledon after Chris Evert (1973), Olga Morozova (1974) and Steffi Graf (1987). 

Should she win three or more matches at the US Open later this year, she will also set a new Open Era record for the most Grand Slam wins achieved by an Italian female player in a single season. 

“The last two months have been crazy for me. I want to thank my team, and my family. They always support me and I wouldn’t be here without them. The crowd have been amazing. I received a lot of support. Just incredible to feel the love from them, I enjoy it so much.” Paolini said following her Wimbledon defeat. 

The 28-year-old will rise to a ranking high of No.3 on Monday. 

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