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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Tuesday July 6, 2021

Aryna Sabalenka

A talented quartet is set to stake their claim to the Venus Rosewater Dish on Thursday. Join us as we preview the women's semis.

And then there were four! The Ladies Singles semifinals are set at Wimbledon, and they are stacked with talent, including the top two seeds plus a former Wimbledon champion.

Let’s break ‘em down:

By the Numbers:

15 – Number of Grand Slam appearances that it took for Aryna Sabalenka to reach her first major quarterfinal. She’s into the semis now at Wimbledon.
1 – Number of former Wimbledon champions remaining in the draw: Angelique Kerber, the 2018 champion.
36 – Number of career wins by Kerber at Wimbledon, which is more than the other three semifinalists, combined (Barty (9), Pliskova (15), Sabalenka (5).
93 – Percent of service games won by Karolina Pliskova, which tops all players remaining.
50 – Ash Barty has broken in half of her return games at Wimbledon (25/50).

[1] Ashleigh Barty v [25] Angelique Kerber
Head to head: Tied, 2-2

Ashleigh Barty and Angelique Kerber are perfect examples of players who make the grass work for them. Many players use power to win on the grass, but Barty and Kerber are artful tacticians that can punch and counterpunch depending on the situation, and what it calls for. That is why the possibilities seem endless for this fifth-time matchup, and first on grass.

Barty can certainly try to take matters into her own hand with spot serving and her booming forehand, which has produced 68 winners in five rounds. But she’ll have to respect the world-class backhand of Kerber, the shot that can turn a rally on its ear. Kerber is averaging more than 10 backhand winners per match at Wimbledon, and many of them come at backbreaking moments in games, just when the German needs a lift.

How will Barty sway rallies so that Kerber’s backhand doesn’t have the final say, and how will Kerber find ways to keep pummeling the Barty backhand?

Barty loves to rely on her slice on the grass, but Kerber is adept at getting low and countering, so it might not be the play for the versatile Aussie. Perhaps she’ll look to employ her two-hander more, or use more drop shots to pull Kerber to net.

One advantage that Barty will have is against the Kerber serve. The German’s first serve is attackable and the Aussie will have to find ways to get Kerber on the run from the get go. The Aussie's break game has been magnificent all tournament, and she'll need to continue that trend to win.

Both players are in such good form and executing their brand of grass-court tennis so well, that it’s hard to imagine this match as anything but a nip-and-tuck battle, a back-and-forth tug-of-war that will come down to sheer determination. If there is an edge to be had, it's the Barty serve and forehand, which could be the x-factor if she plays her tactical cards correctly.

[2] Aryna Sabalenka v [7] Karolina Pliskova
Head to Head: Sabalenka leads 2-0

Aryna Sabalenka and Karolina Pliskova are both in the middle of breakout runs at Wimbledon. Sabalenka, famously, had never broken through to a Grand Slam quarterfinal prior to this week. Pliskova has pushed through to the semifinal at Wimbledon for the first time to complete the quartet—she has now reached at least the last four at every major.

Next up these two mammoth mashers of the tennis ball trade blows for the right to play a Wimbledon final. Pliskova, on paper, has been the more impressive server. The 28-year-old has dropped serve just three times and won an impressive 81 percent of first-serve points and 93 percent of service games.

But if there is one shot that can be attacked it is Pliskova’s second offering. The Czech has won just 47 percent of her second-serve points, while Sabalenka has been ruthless against her opponent’s second serves, winning a ridiculous 62 percent.

If Pliskova’s first-serve percentage dips below 60 percent (her tournament average is 66) she could be in for a rough day. It will allow Sabalenka to take more swipes with her forehand, which has been lethal through five rounds. The Belarusian has 65 winners off that wing, and 96 off both wings (31 backhand), compared to just 65 for Pliskova (49 forehand, 16 backhand).

It promises to be a tough matchup for Pliskova, facing one of the few players who has more power than her, but she’s been excellent at net and good under pressure during her run at Wimbledon.

If Sabalenka plays well, she’ll have to be clean from her baseline and opportunistic when she has the chances, or else she’ll be forced into a defending too much—a losing proposition, unless Sabalenka is missing the mark.


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