Wimbledon, Day 10: Serena Williams, Simona Halep through to the final

Serena Williams and Simona Halep got past Barbora Strycova and Elina Svitolina respective to set up a showdown for the Wimbledon title on Saturday.

Serena Williams has won all three of her meeting with Barbora Strycova so far.   -  Getty Images

 

Right. So that's that. Simona Halep and Serena Williams sailed through their respective semifinal clashes to set up a showdown for the Wimbledon title on Saturday. Let us know what you think of today's matches, and the upcoming ones.

Until then, ciao!

8:33 pm: SERENA WILLIAMS IS THROUGH TO THE FINAL! Strycova manages to take two points off Serena but the American's serve and her forehand see her past the Czech player to and seal her place in the final. Less than an hour, 59 minutes to be exact, is all it took for Serena to seal her place in the 11th Wimbledon final.

8:27 pm: Serena Williams will now serve for the match.

8:26 pm: Up a double break against, Serena is making that forehand of hers sing. And she breaks Strycova to go one game away from the final.

8:21 pm: Everything is going Serena's way now. She holds to love to take a 4-2 lead in the second set. The American is now two games away from the Wimbledon final.

8:19 pm: And now Serena breaks to lead 3-2.

8:15 pm: Serena with the serve and volley and she holds at 15, makes it 2-2.

8:11 pm: Incredible from Strycova. Very clever to push Serena wide with her serve before going the other way to get the point. And then she makes Serena go so deep that her return nestles into the net. And she seals that game with a backhand winner. The Czech player is 2-1 up in the second set.

8:06 pm: Serena Williams has won her last 20 matches when winning the first set and she is in the mood to extent that run. She goes 40-0 up, loses a point to a backhand down-the-line shot before sealing the second game. 1-1 in the second set.

8:03 pm: Strocova races to a 40-0 lead and holds her serve, after giving away a point from an unforced error, to start the second set on a positive note.

7:59 pm: Serena forced to the net again but she doesn't panic. A calculated drop shot takes her to set point and she seals it 6-1.

7:57 pm: And Serena saves the third break point too.

7:57 pm: Serena saves a breakpoint with a backhand winner and then a forehand down the line makes it 30-40. Strycova still has one break point.

7:55 pm: Oh yes! At 15-0 up, Strycova forces Serena to the net and then hits a cross-court winner that has Serena stretching and missing.

7:55 pm: Yes, Strycova was 4-1 down against Konta the other night but, with all due respect, this is Serena Williams. She reads two drops shots well to hits a backhand and a forehand winner. And at 40-15, Strycova goes long and is broken. 5-1 and will serve for the set now.

7:50 pm: Serena holds to love, aided by two aces, and she leads 4-1 in the first set. And it ha taken just 18 minutes for her to get there. The American is now 9/9 on first serve points won.

7:48 pm: Serena breaks! The first break of this match goes the American's way and she gets it with a great passing shot.  On a breakpoint, she makes Strycova run to the net and then hits a passing crosscourt winner to go 3-1 up.

7:41 pm: Beautifully done by Serena. At 40-30, she races to the net and waits for Strycova to run back to the center of the base line before hitting a forehand winner that lands right on the edge. From 30-30, she took the next two points to make it 2-1.

Strycova is holding her ground so far. She is finding ways to draw errors by changing the height and pace of the ball but she needs to make the American run up and down a lot more rather than allow her to play along the baseline.

7:38 pm: Strycova holds to 15 for 1-1. 6 minutes gone. The hold should give her confidence agaist an opponent she has never beaten.

7:34 pm: Serena Williams goes 30-0 up but is pegged back to 30-30 before two consecutive overhead shots tkaes her through. Barbora Strycova has been the story of the second week this time but Serena Williams makes light work of the Czech to take the first game in under three minutes.

* Both the players are out on the court, warming up now. We are minutes away from the second women's singles semifinal. Who will face Simona Halep on Saturday? Let know know.

* Next up is the other women's singles semifinal: Serena Williams vs Barbora Strycova.

A look at the records of American Serena Williams and Czech Barbora Strycova before their semi-final match at Wimbledon on Thursday:

SERENA WILLIAMS

Age: 37

WTA Ranking: 10 (Highest ranking: 1)

Grand Slam titles: 23

2018 Wimbledon performance: Runner-up

Best Wimbledon performance: Winner (2002, 2003, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2015, 2016)

Williams, who is chasing a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam that has so far eluded her since maternity leave, was made to work hard for her quarterfinal win over fellow American Alison Riske.

A niggling knee injury limited her court time and the rust was all too visible heading into the tournament but her big-match experience will come in handy against unseeded Strycova.

BARBORA STRYCOVA

Age: 33

WTA ranking: 54 (Highest ranking: 16)

Grand Slam titles: 0

2018 Wimbledon performance: Third round

Best Wimbledon performance: Semifinals (2019)

Just like Williams, Strycova has dropped one set en route to the semi-finals and the 33-year-old knocked out four seeded players - Lesia Tsurenko, Kiki Bertens, Elise Mertens and Johanna Konta.

But Strycova has never taken a set off Williams in their previous three meetings, all of which have come at the Grand Slams.

 

Head to head: Williams leads 3-0

2017 Williams d Strycova 7-5 6-4 (Australian Open, hard)

2012 Williams d Strycova 6-2 6-4 (Wimbledon, grass)

2012 Williams d Strycova 6-0 6-4 (Australian Open, hard)

 

SIMONA HALEP IS THROUGH TO THE FINAL! A forehand winner takes her through to her first Wimbledon final.

A convincing 6-1, 6-3 victory for Simona Halep. Her attacking play talents took her over the line and becomes the first Romanian woman to reach a Wimbledon final.

The seventh-seeded Romanian won the French Open last year, and has reached the final at Roland Garros on two other occasions. She also reached the Australian Open final in 2018, but her previous best at the All England Club had been a spot in the semifinals in 2014.

REACTION: "It's an amazing feeling and I'm really excited. One of the best moments of my life. I think I played the right tactic and I was very strong mentally and physically," and then adds, "I'm not giving up anymore."

* Key statistics: Simona Halep vs Elina Svitolina

Aces 1-1; Double faults 3-0; Break points won 5/8, 1/5; Net points won 8/10, 4/13; Winners 26, 10; Unforced errors 16, 16; Total points won 68, 46; Match duration: one hour, 13 minutes

6:50 pm: Aggressive from Halep trying to force an error but she finds the net on a return. 40-30 up and still has a set point.

6:50 pm: Wide from Svitolina and Halep has two match points!

6:49 pm: Cheeky from Svitolina as she goes for the drop shot but Halep is very quick. She gets to the return and smashes it make it 30-15 in her favour.

6:48 pm: Svitolina makes it 15-15 with a forehand winner.

6:48 pm: A drop shot from Hale and Svitolina can't reach in time. Halep 15-0 up.

6:68 pm: Svitolina serves now to try and stay in the match.

6:47 pm: Halep loses her first point on the serve this set but that's only a minor blip as she holds her serve and seals the eighth game. 5-3 up in the second set and a game away from a place in the final.

6:43 pm: The power generated by Halep in her returns is incredible. For all of Svitolina's clean hitting, Halep's backhand gives her the first breakpoint of this set and she converts it. She leads 4-3 now and will be serving to take her one game closer to a place in the final.

6:40 pm: Halep holds to love and we are back on level terms. Three games each in the second set.

If Svitolina has found her service game, Halep has taken hers to another level. She hasn't lost a single point in this set when she is serving!

6:37 pm: Halep has varied her drop shots and forehand well. She takes the fifth game to deuce but Svitolina has stepped up now! She makes Halep run across the baseline with each return and the Romanian, looking to get a winner down the line goes just wide. Svitolina leads 3-2.

6:33 pm: The theme of this set is 'you take one, I take one' as Halep holds her serve to love (again!) and makes it 2-2. Long raliies still very much in play but both players are taking their game to the next level when serving. Svitolina has found winner via the serve-and-volley while Halep's forehand is seeing her sail through with ease.

6:30 pm: And now Svitolina holds to love to retake the lead in the second set. She is 2-1 and will be hoping to break the Romanian and take the game into a third set. The Ukranian has finally found her serve!

6:28 pm: Halep holds to love and makes it 1-1 in the second set. After forehand and backhand winners, she uses the drop shot to perfection to seal the game.

6:26 pm: Svitolina comes back strong in the second set, winning the first game in under two minutes. That's the first service game she won in this match!

6:22 pm: After 43 minutes, we come to the end of set one! Halep forces Svitolina into an error and that gives her the first set 6-1.

It’s a joy to watch Simona Halep in this form — swinging freely and aggressively, covering the court with such speed and efficiency. Svitolina did her baest to match it but she must now hit back. Halep one set away from a place in the final.

A 6-1 score, by definition, is not a "close game" but that first set was a very closely fought affair.

6:21 pm: And Halep with a forehand down-the-line winner to match her opponent and she has a sixth set point.

6:21 pm: Exquisite forehand, down-the-line return from Svitolina and we are back to deuce.

6:20 pm: Svitolina goes wide and Halep has a fifth set point.

6:19 pm: Aaaaand we are back to deuce.

6:19 pm: A change! This time, Svitolina takes two points on the trot and has a breakpoint!

6:18 pm: Svitolina makes it deuce, Halep gets a fourth set point. A good backhand winner from Svitolina and we are back on deuce. Phew!

6:17 pm: A forehand shot from Halep hits the net and Svitolina is way behind the baseline to get to that. A third set point to Halep now!

6:16 pm: Halep's forehand doing the work that Svitolina's can't. She has another set point but Svitolina wins the next point and we are back to deuce.

6:16 pm: Nope. Svitolina's returns deep, something that has been a theme in this match, and that Halep's return goes wide.

6:15 pm: A backhand return takes Halep to set point. Can she wrap up the set now?

6:12 pm: Halep break Svitolina again. 40-0 up after long rallies, Svitolina goes for a drop shot. The Romanian runs across the court and smashes the cross-court return to win that game. 5-1 in the first set and cruising.

6:08 pm: But that doesn't disturb Halep's rhythm. She smashes a down-the-line winner and takes the fifth game, leading 4-1 in the first set.

6:07 pm: Let after let from Halep. Three in a row. She then gets her serve right, going well deep and wide, forcing Svitolina to return high. Halep runs tot he net, waits for the ball to drop but the anticipation gets better of her and she smashes it long.

6:06 pm: That quick third game was a blip. We are back to long rallies and Halep breaks again.

* This feel like clay-court tennis being played on grass. The one difference between the two are the vocal level. Halep grunts with every return while there's no sound from Svitolina . Makes it easy to follow without having your eyes on the screen, I suppose.

6 pm: Svitolina break backs! And she does it in style. Takes the game to love and makes it 2-1. Less than two minutes for that game.

She will serve and hope to get back on level terms.

5:58 pm: HALEP BREAKS! After twenty minutes and just two games in, Halep leads 2-0. The Romanian converts her third breakpoint with Svitolina going wide. The Ukranian challenges the call but loses it. Well wide.

20 minutes in. 32 points. Two games completed.

5:56pm: Wonderful from Halep! She makes Svitolina run across the baseline and then takes a drop shot to put her off. Svitolina manages to get a return in but Halep slaps the return long and she has a third breakpoint.

5:54 pm: Nope. We are back to deuce. But Halep goes long, again, and the Ukranian has the advantage.

5:54 pm: Svitolina serving and Halep has failed to convert two break points. And as I type this, Svitolana with the advantage after a Halep forehand goes long. Can she convert it?

5:47 pm: Halep eventually takes the first game! It has taken nine minutes but Halep saves three breakpoints to take a 1-0 lead.

If this first game is anything to go by, Serena and Strycova can put their feet up. We are in for a long match.

5:47 pm: Relentless from Svitolina. She is matching Halep and takes back the advantage and has another breakpoint.

5:45 pm: Long rallies, as expected and we are stuck on deuce. Svitolina takes the point but Halep holds through a 23-shot rally, for the second time, to take it back to deuce. She then picks a drop shot that forces Svitolina to go long on the return. Advantage Halep.

5:40 pm: Svitolina takes the first point of the game. A long rally, something I suspect will be a theme during this match, ends with a forehand winner from the Ukrainian.

5:38 pm: Simona Halep to serve for the first set.

 

* A look at the records of Ukraine's Elina Svitolina and Romania's Simona Halep before their semi-final match at Wimbledon on Thursday (prefix number denotes seeding):

ELINA SVITOLINA

Age: 24

WTA Ranking: 8 (Highest ranking: 3)

Grand Slam titles: 0

2018 Wimbledon performance: First round

Best Wimbledon performance: Semi-finals (2019)

Having been knocked out in Grand Slam quarter-finals four times before, Svitolina became the first Ukrainian to reach the semi-finals of a major and has dropped only one set at this year's Wimbledon so far.

She will take confidence from her head-to-head record against Halep, having beaten her four times, although the pair have never met on grass.

SIMONA HALEP

Age: 27

WTA Ranking: 7 (Highest ranking: 1)

Grand Slam titles: 1 (French Open 2018)

2018 Wimbledon performance: Third round

Best Wimbledon performance: Semi-finals (2014, 2019)

Despite a hiccup in the second round against compatriot Mihaela Buzarnescu, Halep has dispatched opponents with ease and came back from 4-1 down in the first set of the quarter-final to beat unseeded Zhang Shuai in straight sets.

The diminutive baseliner has barely come to the net at the tournament, preferring to transfer her clay court strengths to the grass by extending rallies to wear down her opponents.

HEAD-TO-HEAD: 4-3

2019: Halep d Svitolina 6-3 3-6 6-4 (Doha, hard)

2018: Svitolina d Halep 6-0 6-4 (Rome, clay)

2017: Svitolina d Halep 6-3 6-4 (WTA Finals, hard)

2017: Svitolina v Halep 6-1 6-1 (Toronto, hard)

2017: Halep d Svitolina 3-6 7-6(6) 6-0 (French Open, clay)

2017: Svitolina d Halep 4-6 7-5 6-1 (Rome, clay)

2013: Halep d Svitolina 6-1 6-1 (Sofia, hard)

 

* Weather update

THURSDAY’S FORECAST: Partly cloudy. High of 26°C (79°F).

WEDNESDAY’S WEATHER: Mostly cloudy. High of 25°C (77°F).

* Still looking for that 24th Grand Slam title, Serena Williams will first have to get through the semifinals at Wimbledon. The seven-time champion will be second on Centre Court against Barbora Strycova. Former No. 1 Simona Halep will face Elina Svitolina in the earlier match at the All England Club.

Williams needs one more major title to equal the record set by Margaret Court. With 23, she already holds the professional-era record for Grand Slam singles titles, one more than Steffi Graf. Strycova and Svitolina will both be playing in the first major semifinal, while Halep will be trying to reach her fifth Grand Slam final.