With every top ten seed in the women’s draw already knocked out, Serena Williams’ path towards an eighth Wimbledon title appears wide open. But she faces a real challenge in her quarterfinal against world #52 Camila Giorgi who, though making her debut in a Major quarterfinal, has no shortage of talent. Will Williams take another step towards history or will the Italian score a memorable upset win?
This will be the fourth time Giorgi and Williams have clashed, in a rivalry that Williams has dominated. Their first two meetings were both on clay, with Williams winning both in straight sets; the first was an easy 6-2 6-2 victory, the second a little tighter at 7-6 6-2. The last time they played was at another Grand Slam, in the first round of the 2016 Australian Open. Giorgi pushed Williams throughout, but ultimately went down 6-4 7-5.
Path to the quarterfinal
Serena Williams hasn’t yet dropped a set on her way to the quarters. She started off with a 7-5 6-3 win against Dutchwoman Arantxa Rus, before destroying Viktoriya Tomova of Bulgaria 6-4 6-1. Kristina Mladenovic, the world #62, provided a challenge in the third round, but Williams was still able to escape in just under two hours to record a 7-5 7-6 win. She then smashed Evgeniya Rodina in straight sets 6-2 6-2 to book her place in the last eight at the All England Club.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Giorgi hasn’t had things quite as easy. She began her Wimbledon campaign with a win against 21st seed Anastasija Sevastova, who she beat 6-1 2-6 6-4. She then managed to beat American Madison Brengle in straight sets in the second round, before being pushed to the brink by Katerina Siniakova. She escaped that one a 3-6 7-6 6-2 winner to reach the fourth round. There she was more comfortable, beating Ekaterina Makarova 6-3 6-4.
How do they match up?
Serena Williams is, of course, one of the most powerful players in the history of the game, and few can match her in a toe-to-toe baseline battle, in part due to Williams’ ability to combine her power with impressive accuracy. Giorgi, despite her small stature, is able to generate a level of power which belies her size. But her aggression is less controlled than Williams’, meaning her power can be as detrimental to her as it is beneficial at times.
Nor is Williams simply a big-hitter. The American's defensive skills are also hugely impressive, both in terms of her court coverage and her ability to use the ball well even at the end of her range. Thus it may ultimately prove to be to Giorgi’s benefit that she generally tries to finish points quickly. But she will need to play at her very best if she is to hit through Williams' defence without also making a costly number of unforced errors.
Giorgi will come out hard at the seven-time champion, going for the lines at every opportunity. It will also be interesting to see how she deals with the Williams serve, considering her aggressive returning style and Williams' thunderous serve. But the problem for Giorgi will not be a lack of aggression, it will be an ability to consistently combine that aggression with accuracy. Williams will not share in those difficulties and expect the American to advance in straight sets.