After a tournament that has seen the top ten seeds in the women’s draw fall before the quarterfinal stage, even the relative stability of a day in which each match was won by the higher seeded player felt surprising. Among the four women remaining, three are former grand slam champions and all are exciting players to watch; a testament to the current depth of the women’s game.
Day 8 Recap
Jelena Ostapenko blitzed her way past Dominika Cibulkova in a thrilling display of what coach and commentator Brad Gilbert referred to in a tweet as “rock solid” tennis. Ostapenko, who reached the Wimbledon quarterfinals in 2017 after her win at the French Open, has spoken about how she feels a mental burden has been lifted now that she does not have to defend the points from her 2017 French Open victory. Her clarity of mind was evident in the pureness with which she struck the ball, blasting 33 winners past Cibulkova in just under an hour-and-a-half.
Angelique Kerber has also struggled mentally because of success. After reaching World #1 in 2016, she has only this year begun to recover her consistency in big tournaments. Her straight sets win today against an in-form Daria Kasatkina proves that she has fully banished the demons that saw her to early exits at every grand slam in 2017. Kerber’s returning was particularly sharp. She won 53% of her receiving points and converted 6 of the 10 break points opportunities she created. While Kasatkina was hitting the ball as hard as she could in rallies, Kerber’s solid defense proved too much for the young Russian.
Julia Goerges needed three sets to defeat Kiki Bertens enroute to her first grand slam semifinal. Goerges played smart tennis and eventually overwhelmed her opponent with solid play striking seventeen more winners and 6 fewer unforced errors than Bertens. Her next task, one that is perhaps too great, is to face Serena Williams.
Williams showed in her victory over Camila Giorgi, that she still has not only the on court skill, but also the mentality to win more grand slam titles. As exceptional as her talent and legacy are, the deck was stacked against Williams. She was playing matches on back-to-back days, a feat which has troubled her recently. Giorgi, while someone who had never made it past the fourth round of a grand slam before, was one of the few players left who could match Williams’ power. If she was a step slow around the court, Giorgi’s powerful shotmaking could have been too much to handle.
In her press conference after her fourth round win, Williams stated, “Every single match I play, whether I’m coming back from a baby or surgery it doesn’t matter, these young ladies bring a game that I’ve never seen before.” That was true in the first set of her quarterfinal. Giorgi came out slamming down serves that rivaled Williams’ for power and went for broke on returns. While Giorgi can produce powerful shots, it is rare to see her constantly red-line her game. The strategy worked, but Williams’ patience and experience kept her in the match. In both the second and third sets one break of serve in each was all she needed to seal victory over her Italian opponent.