By Amanda Barlow

  • Angelique Kerber [4] v Simona Halep [5]
  • Dominika Cibulkova [19] v Elena Vesnina

WIMBLEDON, UK – We take a look at the pick of the women’s quarter-finals as we get to the business end of The Championships

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Angelique Kerber [4] v Simona Halep [5] – H2H: Halep leads 3-0

After what looked like a troubled lead in to the grass court season, Halep really seems to have hit her stride. She had yet to drop a set on her way to the R16 encounter with Madison Keys, and found herself on the wrong end of a tie-break in the first set.

For many, Keys was one of the dark horses that could have taken the tournament by storm, and after numerous injuries in her short career, for the first time this season she seemed to be on song.

She did pull up a couple of times with cramp as the match drew on, with Halep fighting back from going an immediate break down at the start of the second set, before breaking back and sneaking another break to level the match.

The third set saw them give no quarter, before just a single break, to clinch a place in the quarter-finals for just the second time.

Meanwhile Kerber diced with Misaki Doi again in a Grand Slam. Having been match point down to the Japanese player in the Australian Open, before going on to win the whole thing, she was far more in control this time.

She broke twice to take the opening set before repeating the pattern in the second, unable to take two match points on the Doi serve, third time was the charm for the German.

Kerber has done her preparation by the book, although she may have wanted a lifeboat given the amount of rain that followed her from Birmingham to Eastbourne to Wimbledon, but she has improved the more time she has had on the grass.

Her serving has become a little sharper, she always moves well and can get down low on the grass, and so she is as well equipped as she can be to face the scrambling Halep.

The Romanian has really looked like she has a spring back in her step. Her movement in the Keys match was sure-footed and her attacking game has worked well for her.

Even if we disregard their first meeting at a 50K in 2009, Halep has the tour edge over Kerber – the German’s only win over her was this year in Fed Cup. Grass ought to favour Kerber.

She has made great strides in being far more aggressive but she still retains that ability to run down everything. Then again so can Halep.

This is a tough one to call – maybe having not played any of the grass court season has helped Halep a little more. She may be a touch fresher in the limbs out there.

Kerber looks hungry to put that post-Slam winning hangover to bed, finally. Halep has talked a good talk for a couple of years now about wanting to challenge for the Slams again.

Tough one to call, but we’re giving Kerber the edge this time.

Prediction: Kerber in three sets.

 

Dominika Cibulkova [19] v Elena Vesnina – H2H: 3-3

There can have been no greater drama than Cibulkova once more reigning supreme over Agnieszka Radwanska on the grass this season. She undid the Pole in Eastbourne, and then repeated the feat in arguably the best match of the tournament so far.

Cibulkova may have other issues though – a win on Tuesday may mean having to move her wedding, which is planned for the day of the final!

She joked that in the past she had not always had the results on grass, but now she should reconsider. In fact she has surprised herself on both clay and grass this year – making the final in Madrid and now with a great shot at a deep run at SW19.

But on the other side of the net is an equally resurgent Vesnina. Also a former champion in Eastbourne – she had a pretty strong run there too, and has been impressive on the grass so far, edging past her doubles partner Ekaterina Makarova in three sets with a battle royal in the decider.

Vesnina can expect Cibulkova to latch on to her serves as early as possible, and will need to maybe stretch the Slovakian’s speed and agility to the limit with ball-placement and her strength at the net.

Cibulkova ran herself ragged in the match against Radwanska, and is currently on a nine-match winning streak. The prospect of postponing her wedding for a shot at a second Slam final may carry the pocket rocket through.

Prediction: Cibulkova in three sets.

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