Women’s semis: Kerber vs Ostapenko, Serena vs Goerges


FROM WIMBLEDON — Many players are very nervous on court, but others aren’t nervous at all. When you have won a Grand Slam, that nervousness can go away.

That is why Angelique Kerber and Jelena Ostapenko will face off on Thursday. German Kerber won the ’16 US Open and ’17 Australian Open, while Latvia’s Ostapenko won ’17 Roland Garros. This season, they have been OK, for the most part. But, in the last 11 days, they were so good and so driven. Kerber has been around a long time, while Ostapenko is very young. Kerber is super steady as she is very fast, while Ostapenko crushes her forehand and backhand. 

However, after you win a major, the so-called pressure is on in the next year. You are the champion, so do it again. Ostapenko admitted that last month that she was emotionally messed up. But not now.

“I’m not like at the French Open because I had all that pressure, now it’s gone. Finally it’s gone,” Ostapenko said. “Now it’s another tournament, another great opportunity for me. I’m just not afraid to miss. I’m just going for the shots. In general, I think my level is much better the last Grand Slam.”

Kerber has reached a number of semifinals this year, but she has yet to win tournament since she won Sydney at the start of the year. In Australia she reached the semis, and she was very close, but Simona Halep pushed her back 9-7 in the third set. Since then, Kerber has been gaining momentum. When she goes deep in an event, she will back off and lose. Perhaps on Thursday, Kerber will be substantially more aggressive and return well. She has to. Her young opponent will make Kerber step it up.

“It’s a big challenge, especially with Ostapenko where I never played against her. She won also a Grand Slam,” Kerber said. “The match starts from zero. The pressure is not always on my side. There are no favorites anymore. We are in the semis. I’m not looking left or right. I’m not looking about the others. I’m really taking care about my game.”

This is a toss-up, but in the third set, Ostapenko will hit the corners and capture it. 

Serena Williams is once again back into the Wimbledon semifinals. She is the favorite, but she still is not playing 100 percent, yet. She needed to best Camila Giorgi 6-4 in the third. Her serves were tremendously good in the last hour, but still, her forehand is a little off. Regardless, she is still so smart, her backhand is lethal, and her returns is very deep. As long as the rallies go quickly, she will be find her game.
     
Julia Goerges will go up against Serena. Goerges is relentless, and even when she gets down, she goes forward, and she finds ways to win. It has taken the 29-year-old many years to reach the pinnacle of her career. Now, she is in the semis at Wimbledon, so the folks will say, “Who is Julia?”

Well here it is, things changed: “It was almost three years ago when I decided to make a change in my team. I went completely a new way. I took a new physio, a new coach [Michael Geserer]. I changed my residence,” Georges said. “I went from the north to the south of Germany really to start everything from zero.

“I thought there is much more potential in my game and in myself to reach my goals I want to achieve, to become the best player I can be with my abilities I’m having. This work we are putting in every day, you can’t expect it happening in three months, and it’s just there. It needs a lot of time and a lot of work. I think it’s everything worth it for the season I’m playing now, that I’m sitting here right now. I’m able to play on the semifinal against Serena Williams. That’s something what a player is dreaming of.” 
 
She is correct. Last year, she won two titles, and this season, the German has beaten some very good players including Caro Wozniacki, Daria Kasatkina, Karolina Pliskova and Ash Barty. She is strong. But here is what is crucial: At Roland Garros, she lost to Serena 6-3 6-4 in the third round on clay. So how is she going to attack on grass? That is risky business. Even if she does, Serena will win in straight sets.

The men
It was a heck of a day on Wednesday, very long with a couple of wonderful contests.

The famous Roger Federer went down in a spectacular fashion, losing to South African Kevin Anderson 2-6 6-7(5) 7-5 6-4 13-11. Federer had a number of chances, but Anderson stepped up to the plate, hit some huge forehands and his slamming serve. He came though, perhaps his best match, ever. Federer was a little bit shaken up.

“I was very happy that I got off to the right start, was able to take control somewhat,” Federer said. “I just don’t know exactly how I couldn’t create more opportunities once the third set came around. I had my chances, so it’s disappointing. No doubt about it. He was consistent. He was solid. He got what he needed when he had to. Credit to him for hanging around really that long.”
 
The other multiple champion, Rafa Nadal, survived in nearly five hours, beating Juan Martin del Potro 7-5 6-7(7) 4-6 6-4 6-4. The fifth set was a true classic, with both men returning well, going side to side, hitting hard or soft, changing everything. But in the end, Nadal was slightly more consistent, and brilliant, which is why he will have a decent shot to knock down Novak Djokovic in the semis. But first, Nadal was thrilled.  

“I am very happy the way that I survived a lot of important points in that fifth set. I think I did a lot of things well,” Nadal said. “I went to the net. In general terms, have been a positive match. Only negative thing is I played almost five hours, and I had the chance maybe to play less winning that second set. For the rest of the things, great news, semifinals of Wimbledon again. Great feelings.”

Serbian Djokovic was extremely good, as he was very focused and his backhand was spot on. In the last hour, he whipped Kei Nishikori 6-3 3-6 6-2 6-2. Nishikori had some good moments, but then he totally lost his game, committing errors after errors.  

“I feel if I have to compare the game that I’ve played, the level of tennis that I’ve had those years and today, I think it’s pretty close,” Djokovic said.

American John Isner finally reached his first Grand Slam semis ever, beating Milos Raonic 6-7(5) 7-6(7) 6-4 6-3. In the second set in the tiebreak, it looked Raonic was going to grab it and go up 2-0, but Isner kept strong and snared it. After that, he was on cruse control. 

“Pure elation right now. With how I’m feeling physically and mentally, I’m in a very good spot,” Isner said. “I think I can keep doing damage here. This is amazing. It’s by far the best Grand Slam I’ve ever played in my career, and I’ve been playing for 11 years. I’m super happy.”

They winners are all happy. Not so much for the those eliminated in a glorious day of tennis.

Speak Your Mind

*