For Serena Williams’ quest for an eighth Wimbledon title and an incredible 24th Grand Slam to continue she will have to get past the only other mother left in the draw, world #120 Evgeniya Rodina of Russia, in the last 16. Rodina has shown incredible fortitude to win through three very difficult matches so far in the tournament, but will face a huge step up in class against Williams. Will she be able to pull off the upset or will Williams have too much?
These two have never played against one another on the WTA Tour. Rodina, whose fourth round appearance at this year’s Wimbledon is her best ever result at a Major, has generally been unable to stick around for long at Grand Slam events. She has been knocked out in the first round in 12 of her 21 Grand Slam appearances, and aside from Wimbledon in 2008 and this year, has never made it past the second round.
Williams, in contrast, has made it past the second round on more than a few occasions. At Wimbledon she has an incredible winning record of 86-10, having won seven of the 17 events she has entered at the All England Club. Her success rate in fourth round matches is also very impressive, with Williams having lost just nine. She has won 46. Overall, her record at the Grand Slams is 319-43.
Path to the fourth round
Williams was somewhat challenged in the first round by world #105 Arantxa Rus, but still managed to advance in straight sets with a 7-5 6-3 win. She followed that up with a relatively painless 6-1 6-4 victory over Viktoriya Tomova of Bulgaria, before she faced her toughest match yet in the third round against Kristina Mladenovic. Mladenovic is the world #62 but has been top ten and seriously pushed Williams. But the seven-time champion escaped in straight sets nonetheless, 7-5 7-6.
Rodina, in contrast, has had to toil hard for every victory. In the first round she beat German Antonia Lottner 3-6 7-5 6-4 in over two hours, before again bouncing back from a set down in the second round to beat Sorana Cirstea 1-6 6-3 6-3. But her biggest test was still to come. In the third round, where she faced world #11 Madison Keys, Rodina delivered a terrific performance to outlast Keys and win 7-5 5-7 6-4 in a match that lasted over two hours.
How do they match up?
Williams’ successes have relied, in large part, on her incredible power. She is able to punish players with her groundstrokes on both wings, and her serve is one of the best the game has seen. She doesn’t rely purely on brute force, however, with her accuracy ever impressive. The American is also one of the best defenders in the game and excels in turning defence into attack with a single shot.
Rodina, in contrast, relies more on her fighting spirit than power off the ground. Her serve will pale in comparison to what Williams can summon when stepping to the line. She has managed to advance this far in the tournament largely due to an impressive ability to break serve, but that won’t be so easy to do against Williams. Rodina’s relatively slow serve could also cause problems and expect Williams to look to punish any below average serves.
Rodina has done incredibly well to make it this far in the tournament, twice coming back from a set down and stunning the world #11 in three sets. Her run will end here, though, as Williams will simply have too much for the Russian to cope with. With nine of the top ten seeds already out of the tournament, the draw has opened up beautifully for Williams, and she will breeze through to the quarterfinals with a straight sets win.