By Ros Satar, at

  • Angelique Kerber [11] v Jelena Ostapenko [12]
  • First meeting
WIMBLEDON, UK – 2016 finalist Angelique Kerber is just a math away from a second crack at the title, but 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko stands in her way.

 

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Angelique Kerber v Jelena Ostapenko | First meeting

It may seem strange to many, given Jelena Ostapenko’s recent prominence on the tour, but it will be the first time that two-time Slam champion Angelique Kerber will have met the Latvian.

In fact, the semi-final sees them having wrapped up all the remaining surface Slams between them as they vie for a spot to bid for the title on grass.

Kerber did it first with her stunning win over Serena Williams at the 2016 Australian Open, backing it up with a run to the Wimbledon final and then capping the year not only with the coveted Year-end No. 1 title but the US Open title too. Meanwhile Ostapenko stunned favourite Simona Halep in 2017 to claim the Roland Garros title.

So, if we think that the pressure of being in a Slam title would be telling, then think again as both these Ladies have the game to win the most coveted prizes on the tour.

For Kerber the journey back to this kind of form has been arduous. The demands on her as she reached the pinnacle on the WTA Tour took its toll. She started the year listlessly, and outside of reaching the Monterrey final, she struggled to hit the heights of the 2016 season.

READ MORE | Wimbledon 2018 | Kerber will call on ‘experience and memories’ to reach a second Wimbledon final

Wimbledon 2018 | Kerber will call on ‘experience and memories’ to reach a second Wimbledon final

However, dropping out of the Top 20 has freed her up once more, and she started the year with a title in Sydney, before delivering (along with Halep) on of the best matches of the Australian Open in their semi-final. Since then she has gone on to reach the quarter-finals or better at all three of the Slams – Kerber 2.0 is back.

Meanwhile the challenge of defending a Grand Slam final for our resident butterfly catcher Ostapenko proved to be tricky. She seemed to be letting all the build-up pressure about her title defence bounce off her, but her first round loss in Roland Garros was a sobering epitaph.

READ MORE | Wimbledon 2018 | Ostapenko looking to dance her way into the final

Wimbledon 2018 | Ostapenko looking to dance her way into the final

Ostapenko’s natural aggressive play gives her an easy advantage on a surface she professes to be one of her favourites. She hits with an easy power and she is hitting free right now. Kerber will be the one with all the pressure – she is a former finalist, the highest seed left standing, and she will never have a better time to grab that title to become a three-time slam champion at three different Slams.

Kerber had dropped one set to America’s Claire Liu but since then has looked pretty solid, although she seems to produce her best tennis these days when her back is against the wall. She can relish the fight, and she will look to make Ostapenko run all day long, and that is where she could find her advantage – you would have to give her the advantage in the longer rallies.

This is going to be a real battle – and it is a tough one to call but will opt for experience over freedom.

Prediction: Kerber in three sets.

The Ladies’ semi-finals will take place on Centre Court on Thursday, from 1pm (BST).

 

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