Angelique Kerber vs Jelena Ostapenko: Wimbledon semifinal preview and prediction

RealSport preview the semifinal clash at Wimbledon between the highest two seeds left in the draw, Angelique Kerber and Jelena Ostapenko.

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(Photo credit: Katherine Shann)

In a battle between the two highest seeds left in the draw, Angelique Kerber and Jelena Ostapenko face off for a place in the Wimbledon final. Kerber is a two-time Grand Slam winner and former Wimbledon finalist, but she has never been able to go all the way at the All England Club. Ostapenko, at just 21 years of age, also has a Major to her name after lifting the title in Paris last year and last year made the final eight at Wimbledon.

History

Perhaps unsurprisingly considering Ostapenko hasn’t been on the Tour for long, this will be the pair’s first meeting. Ostapenko only competed in her first Grand Slam event in 2015, but had a fine year at the Majors last season, reaching at least the third round at all four and winning the French. Kerber disappointed last year, but does have two Slams to her name having bookended 2016 with victories in Melbourne and New York, whilst also reaching the Wimbledon final.

Path to the semifinal

Kerber hasn’t really been challenged yet during the course of this tournament. She started off with a solid 7-5 6-3 win over Vera Zvonareva, before recovering from a set down to beat Claire Lui, last year the champion in the juniors at Wimbledon, 3-6 6-2 6-4 in the second round. She hasn’t lost a set since, beating Natalie Osaka 6-2 6-4 in the third round, Belinda Bencic 6-3 7-6 in the fourth, and 14th seed Daria Kasatkina 6-3 7-5 in the quarterfinals.

Ostapenko has had an interesting tournament. She hasn’t yet dropped a set during her five matches, but is also yet to face a seeded player. She beat wildcard Katy Dunne 6-3 7-6 to start the tournament, before disposing of Kirsten Flipkens 6-1 6-3 in the second round. In the third round, she crushed Vitalia Diatchenko 6-0 6-4, before comfortably beating Aliaksandra Sasnovich 7-6 6-0. She then conquered #33 Dominika Cibulkova with a 7-5 6-4 win.

How do they match up?

This will be an entertaining match to watch, with both players aggressive baseliners with the propensity to hit winners. Ostapenko, in particular, is extremely aggressive, and is renowned for her high-risk high-reward game style. Indeed, the Latvian made headlines last year at the Championships when it was revealed her forehands were faster, on average, than then defending champion Andy Murray’s.

Kerber is a capable defender, and will make her opponent search for the lines more so than usual, with the German more than able to turn defence into attack. That is particularly true off her forehand, with Kerber possessing one of the best running forehands in the game, which she displayed with a fine winner against Liu. Nonetheless, expect many points in this match to be finished relatively quickly as each player looks to overpower the other.

Prediction

This will be a close one. Both have been very solid throughout the tournament, but have yet to face an opponent of each other’s quality. It’s hard to see either player getting comfortably on top of the other at any point throughout the match, and a three-setter seems almost inevitable. But expect Kerber’s greater consistency to tell in her favour with the German advancing to her second Wimbledon final after three close sets.

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