Serena Williams set up a dream Wimbledon final against Simona Halep after swatting aside Barbora Strycova in 59 minutes on Centre Court.
Williams won her 11th straight semifinal at the All England Club thanks to a 6-1 6-2 victory over the Czech, a result sending her through to an 11th Wimbledon final.
She will be shooting for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam singles title when she comes up against Halep, who earlier on Thursday dismissed Elina Svitolina 6-1 6-3 to reach her first final at SW19.
In their 10 previous meetings, Williams has won nine, the most recent being a three-set thriller at Australian Open 2019.
|2019||Australian Open||hard||R4||Williams||61 46 64|
|2016||US Open||hard||QF||Williams||62 46 63|
|2016||Indian Wells||hard||QF||Williams||64 63|
|2015||Miami||hard||SF||Williams||62 46 75|
|2014||WTA Finals||hard (I)||F||Williams||63 60|
|2014||WTA Finals||hard (I)||RR||Halep||60 62|
|2011||Wimbledon||grass||R2||Williams||36 62 61|
“I will believe that I have my chance to win against her. Of course, I respect a lot what she has done and what she’s doing,” Halep said. “But now I feel stronger mentally facing her. We will see what is going to happen. It’s just a big challenge for me.”
Halep, a former world No.1 and last year’s Roland Garros champion, broke Svitolina for a 2-0 lead in the opening set but those two games alone took 20 minutes as the two women slugged out a series of physical rallies on Centre Court.
Yet despite the set remaining a competitive affair, Halep won the points that mattered most to take it. The second set was closer on the scoreboard, yet lasted far less time, as Halep overwhelmed Svitolina with her aggression and intensity.
Her sparkling stat sheet included 26 winners (to Svitolina’s 10) and just 16 unforced errors, plus a tidy 8-of-10 points won at net.
They’ve now played 31 9+ rallies.
Svitolina has won 6 of them.
— Courtney Nguyen (@FortyDeuceTwits) July 11, 2019
“Today I think it was, again, one of the best matches on grass,” Halep said.
“I knew that I was actually prepared against her to fight for every ball. I played many times against her, and I knew that she doesn’t let the rhythm low. I had to be there, I had to be strong.”
Svitolina felt that strength first-hand.
“I think she played unbelievable today,” said the Ukrainian, playing in her first Grand Slam semifinal and for the first time ever on Wimbledon’s Centre Court.
Some recent injuries had Svitolina doing training during the tournament. "I'm little bit behind with my strength in my lower body."
— Kamakshi Tandon (@Kamakshi_Tandon) July 11, 2019
“She was moving really good, striking the ball perfectly. It’s little bit of me making poor decisions in some important moments, and then her playing unbelievable which made the score like that.”
Williams was even more dominant, extending her winning head-to-head record over Strycova to 4-0.
She has not dropped a set in any of those matches.
In perhaps her cleanest match of 2019, Williams served big, hit crisply from the baseline, moved athletically, and simply had too many weapons for Strycova, who like Svitolina was appearing in her first major semifinal.
Little of the court-craft Strycova is renowned for seemed to bother Williams, and several times the Czech erred when trying to bail out of points too quickly with a drop shot or sharp angle.
Down 1-6, 2-4, 30-40, she had the entire open court in which to play a volley – which would have kept her alive at deuce – yet pushed her shot wide and screamed in anguish.
Leading 6-1 5-2, Williams closed out the match confidently.
Simona Halep only plays GREAT Grand Slam finals…
2014 Roland Garros: 4-6, 7-6, 4-6
2017 Roland Garros: 6-4, 4-6, 3-6
2018 Aus Open: 6-7, 6-3, 4-6
2018 Roland Garros: 3-6, 6-4, 6-1
See no reason why Saturday vs. Serena will be any different. Both excellent today. #Wimbledon
— The Tennis Podcast (@TennisPodcast) July 11, 2019
“Even be in those two finals last year was unbelievable. Now I’m in a different place,” said Williams, who in 2018 was a finalist at both Wimbledon and the US Open.
“Like I just am more calm. Instead of having nothing to lose, I feel like I have things to lose, but I also have nothing to lose. It’s like I’m in the middle.
“I really want to do it. I’m in a different place because I wasn’t really playing a month ago, like, at all. So it’s all kind of coming together.”
That’s ominous news for Halep, although Williams is not taking the Romanian lightly, despite her head-to-head dominance.
“There’s so many impressive things about her. I think obviously her tenacity. I think her ability to improve every time, just to keep improving. Her ability to find power,” Williams said.
“Can’t underestimate her. She’s like a little powerhouse.”
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