Angelique Kerber vs Agnieszka Radwanska
Kerber showed great defensive skills in getting by her hard-hitting countrywoman, Sabine Lisicki. Both Lisicki and Kerber showed a fair amount of nerves in their match on Centre Court, but hopefully getting through this will help Kerber deal with pressure situations in the future. A semifinal against another inexperienced opponent, at least in terms of deep runs in Grand Slams, will definitely be beneficial.
Radwanska still very much feels like she is flying under the radar, which is quite surprising for the #3 seed. She produces consistent results throughout the year but this is really her first major breakthrough in a Slam. And her lack of experience in close, important matches was very evident in the latter portions of sets during her quarterfinal match against Maria Kirilenko. Radwanska just had trouble handling the pressure and a tricky opponent. And Kerber’s defense will trouble her even more. If Radwanska cannot find a way to keep her nerves in check in a Wimbledon semifinal on Centre Court, this could be quite an embarrassing match for her.
This pair have met a total of 4 times, with the head-to-head at two wins apiece. 3 of those 4 matches have gone the full 3 sets. These are two fairly similar players and while Kerber might be the more talented overall, Radwanska is usually the more consistent and stable of the two. Somehow, though, I don’t see that happening here. I think that while both will be nervous, Kerber will be much more ready for the occasion and should make it through to her first-ever Grand Slam final.
Prediction: Kerber in 2
Serena Williams vs Victoria Azarenka
Williams looked nearly unbeatable in her quarterfinal match against Petra Kvitova. Serena’s movement was perfect, she played her shots and hit a lot of lines. She played pure power tennis at a level that we haven’t seen from her in quite a while. In just one match, she made herself a pretty prohibitive favorite among the four remaining players. Her second serve still is a bit of a weakness that maybe a big hitter can take advantage of. But other than that, her game looks nearly invincible and I really can’t see anyone left here beating her.
Azarenka got through what was a very tricky match against a young opponent who really has quite a promising future. Paszek played an impressive match, mixing things up, playing great defense, and counterpunching against one of the biggest hitters on tour. Still, Azarenka got through it and will now face a task of an entirely different order.
Serena and Azarenka both play very similar games. Both move very well, like to take the ball early and inside the baseline, and absolutely love to just hit the heck out of the ball. And Azarenka is one of the best in the women’s game at it. She won the Australian Open this year and seems to have really taken things up a notch. But neither she nor any other power hitter on the women’s tour is a match for Serena when she plays at the level she showed against Kvitova. She is just too good. If Azarenka wants to have any sort of chance here she needs to go after every single second serve of Serena’s and try to scare her into taking something off of the first serve. Once Serena gets a solid hit in any rally, she controls it and it really is on her racket. And not even Azarenka can do anything about that. Unless Serena’s level drops, it’s hard to see Azarenka, or anyone else really, beating her.
Prediction: Williams in 2