The bottom half of the draw has largely gone according to seeding, and we have a huge Wimbledon semi-final awaiting for us. Five-time champion Venus Williams is bidding to lift the Venus Rosewater Dish for the first time since 2008, but standing in her way is home favourite Johanna Konta. Read on for the preview…
(10) Venus Williams (No.11) vs (6) Johanna Konta [No.7]
Overview: Venus Williams always seems to discover her vintage form at her most successful career venue at SW19. The American is into her second straight semifinal at the All England Club, taking advantage of a slightly more open draw to power her way to this stage. The only set she has dropped so far was in the second round to Wang Qiang. Probably still shaken from the car incident, Venus recovered from sluggish service games to take a tight two-setter over Elise Mertens, and then a tough three-set victory over Wang Qiang. Since then it has been more smooth for Venus, ousting Naomi Osaka and Ana Konjuh to the quarters.
Then came another teenager in the form of French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko. Ostapenko has been powering past her opponents with her brutal groundstrokes in the recent weeks, but this time she was feeling how her victims felt when they were being blasted off the court. It was largely dictated by serve in the first but Ostapenko had an opening at 15-30 on a Williams service game at 5-4. However, the American relied on all her 20 years of experience to serve down 110 mph serve bombs, and managed to break once more after Ostapenko rattled. The second set started with the Latvian being more aggressive but Williams continued to serve-bot and serve out the win to love. Venus won 78% of first serve points and her serve down the tee on the Ad-size was just, just, impossible to return!
It is Johanna Konta’s mental fortitude that has helped her to reach the semifinals here at SW19. With all the pressure on Konta, she managed to pull off an epic win against Donna Vekic, winning 10-8 in the third. Konta then beat Maria Sakkari, Caroline Garcia and Simona Halep enroute to this stage. Both of her last two matches have gone three sets, and that one against Halep was a wild ride. Within two points of losing the match, Konta capitalised on some passive play from Halep in the second set tiebreak to come back. The passive play from Halep continued and the Brit always tried to dictate with her groundstrokes and serve. Halep eventually cracked and gave one lone break in the third set, and that was all what Konta needed as she won on an extremely controversial match point where a spectator randomly screamed and caused Halep to net a forehand. That point should have really been called for a replay but anyway Konta deserved that win.
Head to head: Konta leads the head to head 3-2, but Venus won their previous meeting which was on clay, Konta’s worst surface. They have never met on grass before.
Stat: This is Williams’ 21st Grand Slam semifinal, with ten of them coming at Wimbledon. Konta has only reached this stage of a Slam once, in the 2016 Australian Open.
Thoughts: Both players came into Wimbledon with a cloud surrounding around them – Konta with that horrible fall in Eastbourne and Williams with that car crash accident. However, both of them have handled the situation very well and are playing better and better since their first two rounds. Surprisingly, Konta has handled the pressure very well these two weeks but the expectations will definitely increase with her now one win away from her first Slam final.
I would say that the serve is key for both players as the first delivery is what both set up the points with – Konta hit 68% of first serves in yesterday, winning 68% of them but had a good number on the second serve points too, winning 66%.Williams won 78% of first serve points yesterday as the serve meter constantly cracked 110 mph. It’ll be difficult for Konta to break serve if the American keeps getting the first serve in, and I’m not surprised if she’ll be the one to crack under the Centre Court pressure here. Going for Venus to prevail in three.