Thursday, July 5, 2012

Wimbledon 2012 Women's Semi-finals Preview

We are down to the last 4 in the women's draw at Wimbledon 2012. Both the defending champion and world no.1 are out of the tournament, but with the remaining four featuring an all-time great, the Australian Open champion and players ranked 3 and 8, the semi-finals shouldn't lack for quality.

Angelique Kerber (8) vs. Agnieszka Radwanska (3)
Kerber could make a case for the most improved player on tour in the last year. After coming through a classic quarter-final against her compatriot Sabine Lisicki, Kerber should be extremely confident about her chances. Kerber possesses excellent tactical play with brilliant angles, however her biggest concern is finishing matches. When facing crucial points, Kerber has the tendency to go into her shell, and can play some infuriatingly safe tennis.

This is Radwanska's best grand slam performance to date. Her ranking and the fact that she won Wimbledon as a junior should make her the natural favourite. However in her quarter-final victory against Kirilenko, she showed that when a player with natural finesse plays against her, her baseline play can unravel very quickly.

Kerber's meteoric rise started with a shock victory over Radwanska at the US Open last year. While not quite on the same scale, I am going for another upset at Wimbledon. If Kerber stays composed, her shots and angles should be too much for Radwanska.

Serena Williams (6) vs. Victoria Azarenka (2)
There have been many instances in all of sport, when a semi-final turns out to be better than the final. Many may feel that this match-up should really be the final.

Serena is once again displaying the hallmark of a champion by getting better in the second week of Wimbledon. After putting in some lethargic displays in the first four rounds, almost losing the last 2 matches, Serena seemed a transformed player against defending champion Petra Kvitova in the quarter-finals. Her serve was simply untouchable, and her movement in the baseline rallies was absolutely brilliant. Kvitova couldn't have done much better, but Serena was simply in another zone.

Azarenka has done really well to recover from her shock at Roland Garros, and has played some brilliant tennis to get to the semis without losing a set. Her forehand has been the most dominant shot of the tournament. However, against a fellow heavy-hitter like Tamira Paszek in the quarter-finals, Azarenka's movement at times was suspect.

Considering Serena's dominance of the surface and the fact that she is peaking at the right time, Azarenka will have to wait another year. One get's the feeling that Serena wants to win a few slams against the new challengers that include Azarenka and Kvitova. Another serving master class should enable her to do exactly that despite Azarenka's best efforts.