Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Serena Williams
- Serena Williams, Angelique Kerber, Jelena Ostapenko and Julia Goerges are the four ladies left standing at Wimbledon.
- Serena will look for her 11th consecutive grass semifinal win and 20th straight win at Wimbledon against Goerges.
- Kerber and Ostapenko, both former Slam winners, will meet for the first time on Thursday.
After countless early upsets, we have four seeds left standing on the women’s side — three of which have previously won a Grand Slam.
All four ladies had to battle in fantastic quarterfinal matches to get to this point. Let’s take a closer look at both semifinals to see if there is anything worth betting.
Jelena Ostapenko (+145) vs. Angelique Kerber (-160) | O/U: 22
Time: 8 a.m. ET
Where: Centre Court
The first match on Centre Court will feature an intriguing matchup of two former major champs who have never faced off.
Kerber fought her way to the semis, securing impressive wins over Belinda Bencic, Naomi Osaka and Daria Kasatkina. Those three players had a combined 7-5 record against Kerber before this tournament. Despite the tests, Kerber hasn’t dropped a set since losing the first set against Claire Liu in the second round.
Some might initially think Ostapenko will have the match on her racket, but not so fast. Kerber absolutely loves the pace, as she struggles to create her own. The German feeds off her opponent’s power, creating impossible angles for winners. That’s one of the reasons she struggles with players such as Bencic and Kasatkina — who possess very creative games that don’t rely on power.
On the other hand, Kerber has excelled against the power games of Maria Sharapova and Madison Keys. Angie owns an 8-0 record over that duo since Wimbledon in 2014.
Ostapenko certainly qualifies as a power player. The 2014 Wimbledon girls’ champion can fill up a stat sheet — with both the good (winners) and bad (errors). The Latvian plays an angry brand of power tennis, holding nothing back on the court.
Neither should be afraid of the stage, which means this will come down to the matchup. Ostapenko could certainly redline, but her power (and lack of variety) should play right into Kerber’s hands. The German can redirect the Latvian’s pace to create winners and can also use her relentless defense to force the error-prone Ostapenko into mistakes.
Bet to Watch: Kerber live if she goes down a break in the first set
Serena Williams (-325) vs. Julia Goerges (+295) | O/U: 21.5
Time: 9:30 a.m. ET
Where: Centre Court
H2H: Serena leads 2-0
Unlike the first matchup, these two have faced each other — but not since 2011. Serena won both of their previous meetings in straight sets (2010 French Open, 2011 Canadian Masters) — winning three of the four sets by a scoreline of 6-1.
Despite Georges’ ranking, her run to the semis came out of left field. The German lost five consecutive first-round matches at Wimbledon before this year. In fact, her five wins in this year’s tournament equal her total wins at The Championships in her previous 10 appearances — where she went 5-10 overall and never advanced past the third round.
Goerges has not had an easy path, as three of her five wins came in three sets — including a 10-8 final set win over Barbora Strycova in a match the Czech never lost serve in until 6-6 in the decider. But after not making a single Slam quarterfinal in her previous 41 tries, Goerges finds herself in the 2018 Wimbledon semis. Her reward? A seven-time Wimbledon champ.
Serena will look to continue her grass domination by securing her 20th straight win at Wimbledon. Words don’t do Serena’s domination justice, so let’s just focus on her greatness in career grass semifinals — all of which came either at Wimbledon or the Olympics.
Serena has won 10 straight grass semifinal matches (nine at Wimbledon) since Venus beat her in London in her first one. That was 18 years ago! In those 10 wins, she’s won 20 of 22 sets — 12 of which came by a score of 6-2 or better. Just take a look at some of the names she dispatched with ease during that stretch. She’s also won 12 straight semifinal sets on grass between the Olympics and Wimbledon. In the last six sets (against Sharapova, Azarenka and Vesnina), she lost a total of 11 games. Simply spectacular.
While we know Serena won’t fear the moment, Goerges has never been on this stage. It’s not easy to play in your first career Slam semifinal on Centre Court against a 23-time major champ. If nerves overtake Goerges, it could get ugly quick — like it did for Vesnina in her first Slam semi against Serena in 2016.
But if Goerges can find a way to hold her head, she can lean on her tremendous serve to potentially force a tiebreaker or two — and anything can happen in those lotteries. As of July 9, the German led the Tour in aces (257) and ranked second in percentage of first-serve points won (73.2%) in 2018. Julia also has the most aces in this tourney with 44, five more than Serena’s 39. However, the American leads the field with a phenomenal 79% of first-serve points won in her five victories.
In a match of two power servers in great rhythm, you have to trust the greatest women’s server of all-time — especially given the experience mismatch.
Bet to Watch: Serena live if Goerges takes the first set
The lines usually get very tight later in Slams, and this year is no exception. I just don’t see much pre-match value on Thursday. However, I will look for an opportunity to back Serena and/or Kerber at a reduced price in the live market.