Simona v Serena in Wimbledon final

Published by Matt Trollope

Simona Halep (L) and Serena Williams were dominant in their Wimbledon semifinal victories on Thursday (Getty Images)
Serena Williams will aim for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam singles title when she takes on Simona Halep in the Wimbledon final.

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.

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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.

Head-to-head: Williams v Halep (9-1 Williams)

Year Tournament Surface Round Winner Score
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 Cincinnati hard F Williams 63 76(5)
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
2013 Cincinnati hard QF Williams 60 64
2013 Rome clay SF Williams 63 60
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.

“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.

“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.

“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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