Wimbledon 2017 - Garbiñe Muguruza and Venus Williams set up final date
Garbine Muguruza, last year’s French Open champion, checked into the Wimbledon women’s singles final courtesy of a straight-sets win over Magdalena Rybarikova on Thursday. Facing her there will be Venus Williams, who saw off Johanna Konta in the day’s second semi-final. It's the ninth SW19 final for 37 year-old Venus, a five-time Wimbledon champion (2000, 2001, 2005, 2007, 2008).
Clinical Muguruza gets the job done
The British media had a word to describe Garbine Muguruza’s semi-final demolition of Magdalena Rybarikova on Thursday: “Mugu-ruthless”. The 2016 French Open champion showed no mercy to the Slovakian, who was appearing in her maiden Grand Slam semi-final. Breaking her opponent at the first opportunity, the Spaniard raced into a 5-0 lead after 22 minutes and took the first set with a minimum of fuss. The second set followed a similar pattern, with Muguruza securing two breaks en route to closing out an emphatic 6-1, 6-1 victory in an hour and four minutes.
Overwhelmed by her opponent’s speed and powerful groundstrokes, Rybarikova was simply unable to threaten with her sliced backhand. In producing three aces, winning 74% of points on her first serve and hitting 22 winners, Muguruza summoned up a near-perfect display. “I wasn’t expecting anything because I didn’t know,” said the victorious Spaniard afterwards. “I saw her play before and I saw she was playing very good, very talented. I just went out there and expected myself to be ready as much as I could. Maybe the score did look easier than [it] actually [was] playing.”
In reaching her first final of any description since winning at Roland-Garros, the Spaniard also checked into her second in London, having lost to Serena Williams on her Grand Slam final debut in 2015. Temporarily without the services of her coach Sam Sumyk, who stayed home in California for the birth of his first child, Muguruza has flourished under the watchful eye of Conchita Martinez, her Fed Cup captain, over the last two weeks. Not only does the former world No.2 have bags of experience at the highest level, she also knows what it means to win at Wimbledon, having beaten Martina Navratilova to lift the title in 1994.
“Conchita and Sam are really working together,” added Muguruza. “They are in contact. Before I do something, they both decided. I think I’m here because I’ve been working not only the last few days, but longer time, getting ready for this kind of moment. I think she’s helping me to deal with the stress of the tournament, because it’s a long tournament. So she just knows how to prepare, how to train, what to do. To have her by my side gives me also this little confidence on having someone that has won before.”
Evergreen Venus powers on
Age, it seems, is no impediment to success. Despite having turned 37, Venus Williams has lost none of the assets that have always made her a formidable proposition on the grass of Wimbledon. And like fine wine, she seems to get better with age, all while maintaining the boundless enthusiasm of a child. She expressed that infectious energy by wearing the broadest of smiles on clinching a straight-sets win over Johanna Konta and maintaining it all the way to the locker room. Williams’ potent blend of experience and drive is a winning one that has taken her into a ninth Wimbledon singles final, eight years after her last. Her near-flawless performance against the British No.1 brought her an 87th victory at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, more than any other player still on the WTA Tour.
While “JoKo” perhaps fell short of the lofty standards she has set of late, it has to be said that Williams was virtually unplayable, manoeuvring the British player all over the court with her ranking forehands, hit deep into the corners. The American was simply unstoppable, not least on serve, winning 79% of points on the first and 65% on the second. Despite her resolutely attacking gameplan, Konta, who is coached by Wim Fissette, could force no more than two break points, neither of which she converted. It was all too little to prevent Williams from romping home 6-4, 6-2 in an hour and 13 minutes and edging one step closer to a sixth Wimbledon crown.
“I couldn’t ask for more,” an ecstatic Williams told the BBC after joining Muguruza in the final. “But if I could, then another title would be just amazing. The crowd were very nice to me. The crowd were so fair. I know they love Jo.” Though the older of the two Williams sisters leads the Spaniard 3-1 in their head-to-head, she is expecting Saturday’s final to be a tough proposition. “Both Garbine and I play so well on grass. I’ll have to ask Serena for advice,” said the American, mindful of the fact that it was her younger sister who defeated Muguruza on that previous Wimbledon final appearance in 2015.