Strycova vs Williams : Strycova will be confident against the unseeded Williams who is playing in her first grand slam semi-final. Now at the semi final stage, Serena Williams‘ chances of finally getting her 24th singles grand slam look very big. The winner will play either Elina Svitolina or Simona Halep, who play in the first match on Thursday. Every champion must be tested. She will be the heavy favourite against Barbora Strycova who is in her first slam semi final at the age of 33.
Serena looks to be in fine form now, heading into the deep end of the tournament where she gets tougher and tougher to beat. She did have to be at her best to fight off an inspired Alison Riske, beating her fellow American in three sets – 6-4 4-6 6-3. “She was not giving it to me. I needed to step up and take it. That’s what I had to do.” she said.
Strycova is now in the semi finals of both the doubles and singles after a win against Johanna Konta on Tuesday. She had to come from a break down in the opener but was always in control after taking the first set, eventually cruising to a 7-6 6-1 victory. Her more traditional grass court style is a rarity these days and Konta didn’t know what to do for large parts with 34 unforced errors helping her opponent out a great deal.
“This is the first time since Australia that I actually felt, like, good, It’s been a really, really long year for me already, and hard year, because I’m usually not typically injured. I don’t know where I am [in terms of my level]. I do know I feel good. Now that I feel good, I can actually focus on training and technique and practice, something that I just literally haven’t been able to do a lot of.” Serena said afterwards. It’s hard to bet against her if she’s fit and confident but Strycova will look to the 2015 US Open semi final for inspiration. There, a stunning performance from Roberta Vinci bamboozled a Serena who was looking to complete the calendar year grand slam. Keeping Serena from teeing off at will is going to be key for the Czech, otherwise it could be over very quickly.
Prediction – Serena Williams in straight sets
When Serena Williams was beaten in the third round at the French Open last month, while struggling with a right knee injury, the idea that only a few weeks later she would be on the verge of yet another Wimbledon final seemed unlikely, even for her. But here we are, and the 37-year-old stands one match away from fighting for grand slam title No 24.
The significance of that number is not lost on anyone in the women’s game as Williams tries to equal the all‑time record of grand slam singles titles held by the Australian Margaret Court.
Ever since she returned to tennis in March of last year, following the birth of her daughter, Williams has been focused on the record.
Wimbledon: Nadal and Federer set up semi-final, Williams and Murray out – as it happened
At times, especially at the US Open last September when she had a meltdown, the stress it has caused her has been all too obvious; but as she prepares to face the Czech Barbora Strycova in the semi-finals on Thursday she seems at ease.
“I think she is in a good place at the moment,” her coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, told reporters.
“She is happy. She has a house here, her husband is here, her daughter is here and she is pain-free now for three weeks, so she feels so much lighter [mentally].”
Lacking match practice all year because of the knee injury Williams had flirted with the idea of playing a warmup event before arriving at Wimbledon. Mouratoglou advised against it, telling her she should get treatment. It worked, and over the past two weeks she has improved with every round. Playing in the mixed doubles with Andy Murray has sharpened her reflexes and she is beginning to look like the woman who has won the title here seven times before.
“With both singles and mixed doubles she has been able to spend quite a lot of hours on the tennis court playing matches – that is what she needed – and in the last match you could see she has been able to raise her level when necessary, which is one of her trademarks,” Mouratoglou said. “And this is back so everything is positive.”
Williams will be confident against the unseeded Strycova who is playing in her first grand slam semi-final. The American has won all three of their previous matches in straight sets. The most recent one was two years ago at the Australian Open and in the past fortnight, the 31-year-old Czech has been enjoying the time of her life. Her win against Britain’s Johanna Konta in the quarter-finals was an example of what she is all about.
Trailing 4-1 she mixed up her game, serve and volleying on occasion, sneaking to the net when she could, slicing and dicing and generally making her opponent play the way she did not want to play.
“I never saw a player more talented than Barbora with the touch for the ball,” said Lukas Dlouhy, a former top doubles player and now Strycova’s coach. “That’s why she’s playing good on grass and why she loves this tournament.”
In the bottom half the former world No 1 Simona Halep of Romania takes on the Ukrainian Elina Svitolina, two of the best athletes and competitors in the game. For Halep it is a second semi-final here, five years after her first, while Svitolina is the first Ukrainian woman to make a grand slam last four.
On paper Halep is favourite but Svitolina, coached by the Briton Andrew Bettles, has won four of their six meetings and won their last one, in Doha this year.
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