In a battle between two players both looking to reach a maiden Grand Slam quarterfinal, 13th seed Julia Goerges takes on Donna Vekic of Croatia. Goerges, who made her top ten debut earlier in the season will surely see this as a great chance to put together a deep run at a Slam, the one thing missing from an otherwise excellent resume. But Vekic is in sparkling form and has downed one big name already. Who will come out on top?
Goerges and Vekic have met just once before although there was considerably less riding on the outcome of that match. It was won comfortably last year by Goerges on the hard courts of Budapest in the second round. The German lost just four games in a 6-2 6-2 win and went on to reach the semifinals, losing to eventual champion Timea Babos. But with neither player having reached a Grand Slam quarterfinal previously, how they will cope with the pressure of the situation remains an unknown.
Path to the fourth round
Goerges, who has had to battle tooth-and-nail to reach the second week, began her tournament with a difficult assignment against Rio gold medallist Monica Puig. But the German delivered a fine performance to oust Puig in straight sets 6-4 7-6. She then overcame Vera Lapko of Belarus in three sets, 6-2 3-6 6-2 to reach the third round where she faced Barbora Strycova. What followed was a classic, but it was Goerges who was victorious, outlasting the Czech 7-6 3-6 10-8.
Vekic began her tournament against the heavily favoured Sloane Stephens, who was fresh from reaching the final in Paris. But the Croatian destroyed Stephens with apparent ease, delivering a clinical performance to win 6-1 6-3 and has hardly looked back. She next overcame Sweden’s Rebecca Peterson in straight sets 7-5 6-4 to reach the third round at Wimbledon for the first time before finishing strongly to oust Belgium’s Yanina Wickmayer 7-6 6-1.
How do they match up?
Goerges is solid off both wings and whilst not amongst the most powerful players on the Tour, her forehand is deceptively heavy. What she lacks in pace of shot, she makes up for in accuracy with the German exerting excellent control over the ball. Her serve, however, can be a weakness. Whilst she does hit a fair number of aces, no less than 15 against Puig, she has also hit 17 double faults already this tournament and won less than 50% of the points behind her second against Puig and Lapko.
The 22-year-old Vekic is the better ball striker of the two, with the Croatian confident stepping into the court to really go after the ball. She showed as much in hitting through Stephens’ defence with ease, a feat made all the more impressive by how well the American moves. Vekic has also been fairly dominant behind her first serve, winning no less than 74% of the points behind it in all of her matches, peaking an impressive 94% against Wickmayer, although she too has struggled behind her second.
Both Vekic and Goerges are dangerous baseliners playing well and, with the draw so open, both could put together a deep run if they can get through this match. Goerges will be particularly eager to get the win, having still never progressed beyond the fourth round at a Major, despite having now reached that stage at every Slam. But she will have to swallow further disappointment after this one. Vekic is playing the sort of tennis she has so long promised and expect her to pull off the upset in three.