Garbine Muguruza has reached the Wimbledon final before in 2015, but can she move one step further to lift the Venus Rosewater Dish? Someone who already has done so is Venus Williams, five time Wimbledon champion, who will compete with Muguruza for the trophy.
(14) Garbine Muguruza [No.15] vs (10) Venus Williams [No.11]
Overview: Garbine Muguruza produced another emphatic display of offensive tennis to blast past Magdalena Rybarikova, 6-1 6-1, in the first women’s semifinal. This was Rybarikova’s first time ever in a second week of a Grand Slam and that showed as nerves creeped into play and she was never allowed to dictate things on court.
The match happened just like how Rybarikova described it. Muguruza just couldn’t hit a ball long and was getting so much depth on the balls that Rybarikova couldn’t do anything with them at all. Both players were tensed at the beginning but it was Muguruza who was willing to put more pace on her shots. Soon, Garbine became aggressive and was potent on her favourite shot – the backhand down the line, which Rybarikova couldn’t see it at all. The weaker forehand wing was also good with Muguruza knowing when to go down the line and when to keep it more central but deep. With the Slovak getting more and more passive, Muguruza pounced and closed it out with a break to 15, on a backhand down the line. In case you didn’t know, the Spaniard will be bidding to lift her first trophy since last year’s Roland Garros.
Venus Williams into another Grand Slam final at the 2017 Wimbledon Championships. I don’t think anyone would even think that that would be happening again after she got that Sjögrens Syndrome. Going for broke on those serves, fortune favoured the brave as Williams defeated home hope Johanna Konta 6-4 6-2.
The first set was on serve for the first eight games with both players being able to come back from 0-15 or 15-30 deficits to hold without having to defend any break points. The crucial moment came when Williams was serving at 4-4. Bothered by the sun, she served a double fault then placed a swing volley into the net, a rare sight to behold in Venus’ matches! Facing two break points, Konta could only see the ball fly past her as Williams saved the first point with a one-two punch, before coming up with a 106 mph second serve! Buoyed by some more aggressive groundstrokes, the American took the first set.
Konta was less aggressive in the second set. The forehand, especially when returning the Williams serve, was really cracking under the pressure. Breaking for a 3-1 advantage, Williams broke once more in the last game to secure her passage into the final.
Head to head: Venus leads the head to head 3-1, and has won all the matches on hard courts. Muguruza won their previous encounter, in this year’s Rome tournament on clay. This is their first time they are meeting on grass.
Ranking Watch: Both players will break into the world’s Top 10 once again after the tournament. Venus will be at No.8 if she loses, but at No.4 if she claims the title. Muguruza will be at No.9 in the rankings if she loses, but will climb to No.5 with the trophy.
In the Race to Singapore, Venus will dethrone Simona Halep at the top of the race if she claims the Venus Rosewater Dish. If she walks away with the finalist trophy she will move to No.3. Muguruza will climb to No.3 if she wins, but is ensured a place in the Top 8, at No.8, if she loses.
Stat: In this whole tournament, Williams has faced players all inside the Top 60 (Mertens, Wang, Konjuh, Osaka, Ostapenko, Konta) and the average ranking of her opponents so far is 36. (Fun stat: Not one player that Williams has played is above 26 years old, her oldest opponent is Konta!)
In comparison to Williams, Muguruza’s draw has been slightly easier, beating Alexandrova, Wickmayer, Cirstea, Kerber, Kuznetsova and Rybarikova enroute to this stage. The average ranking of her opponents is 55.
Thoughts: I don’t think nerves will come in too much into play for this one, obviously Venus is the more experienced in Wimbledon finals but let’s not forget Muguruza has already reached three finals of a Grand Slam stage at the age of 23. Both players will definitely be motivated to win this one, hopefully it’ll end up in a thrilling three-setter!
I would be happy for both players if they win the title, they both deserve it a lot having been at such a high level during this whole tournament! Both came into Wimbledon with uncertainty, Muguruza having played a terrible match just two weeks ago in Eastbourne where she won only one game, while Venus was just involved in that car incident. In terms of serving, Venus’ level has been more superior than Muguruza has she seems to be always able to find the right serve at the right time, especially in crucial moments. Venus’ average first serve speed is 105mph, while Muguruza is at 98mph. The American’s second serve speed is also faster; Williams’ is at 90mph while Muguruza’s is averaging at 83 mph.
I don’t know if Muguruza can replicate her aggressive form as like her past three matches, as her opponents so far are all relatively counter-punchers. Kerber doesn’t inject much pace into her shots, Kuznetsova usually mixes it up, while Rybarikova wasn’t able to do anything with her groundstrokes due to her tentativeness. But when she plays a hard-hitter like Venus Williams, who doesn’t give you any time at all to set up her strokes, can Muguruza continue to play offensive tennis?
Due to the uncertainty with Muguruza, I’ll go for Williams to prevail and capture her sixth Venus Rosewater Dish, her first since 2008. But remember how Muguruza beat Serena Williams in the 2016 Roland Garros final? If she manages to inject some sort of that play here, the Spaniard could well and truly claim her second Slam title…