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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 19 July 2018

Serena Williams reaches final as Jelena Ostapenko powers past Angelique Kerber - Wimbledon semi-final predictions

Only four women remain in the singles draw, but which two players will make it to Saturday's showpiece?

Serena Williams is on course for her eighth Wimbledon title. Kirsty Wigglesworth / AP Photo
Serena Williams is on course for her eighth Wimbledon title. Kirsty Wigglesworth / AP Photo

Julia Goerges v Serena Williams

Let's be honest, it was always going to happen, wasn't it? Serena Williams, competing in only her fourth tournament since returning in March following the birth of her daughter, is on the cusp of an eighth Wimbledon title.

Arriving at the All England Club with just seven matches under her belt, and having withdrawn from the French Open fourth round with a shoulder injury, there were justifiable concerns surrounding her fitness and ability to last the course of a two week tournament.

Those concerns have been well and truly mocked as Williams carved her way through the field to reach the semi-finals. The debate over awarding the American the 25th seeding now only seems to serve the purpose of asking why she wasn't seeded higher.

Williams, 36, faced her first test in the quarter-finals against Italian Camila Giorgi when she had to recover from a set down, but once she unleashed at the start of the second, there was only going to be one winner.

The 23-time grand slam champion now faces her biggest test of the tournament in 13th seed Julia Goerges.

The pair met as recently as the French Open third round last month, with Williams claiming a comfortable victory to extend her unbeaten record against the German to three matches.

But on the faster grass courts, Goerges' powerful groundstrokes and serve are more potent weapons than on the slower clay. Goerges, 29, has faced - and come through - harder challenges than Williams, so will approach their encounter well prepared.

However, Goerges will have to be at her very best to stop Williams, who seems to be gathering speed and momentum at just the right time.

Prediction: Serena Williams to win 2-0. Julia Goerges will end up playing the occasion rather than the opponent and won't be able to recover from her slow start. It won't be a blow out, but it will be comfortable.

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Jelena Ostapenko v Angelique Kerber

Jelena  Ostapenko has the power and shot-making ability to reach the Wimbledon final. Tony O'Brien / Reuters
Jelena  Ostapenko has the power and shot-making ability to reach the Wimbledon final. Tony O'Brien / Reuters

Jelena Ostapenko is the most wonderfully unpredictable player in the women's game. Capable of sublime shot-making that will crush any opponent, the 21-year-old Latvian can equally produce displays of such erraticism that she would struggle to beat a club player.

Both sides of Ostapenko have been on show this season. From January to March she never won three successive matches. Then seemingly out of nowhere, she blazed her way to the Miami Masters final.

The same pattern applied throughout the clay court swing and at Eastbourne - a warm-up tournament for Wimbledon - and again, she arrives at the All England Club and destroys her opponents to reach the semi-finals.

Can Ostapenko, whose first WTA Tour title was none other than the 2017 French Open, maintain her blistering levels for her showdown with Angelique Kerber? Or is an error-strewn performance about to rear its ugly head?

There are few players more equipped than Kerber to take advantage of a wayward Ostapenko. The German 11th seed, who reached the 2016 Wimbledon final, is a supreme athlete, dependable on both wings, and possesses enough punch to trade with power-hitters like Ostapenko.

Kerber has come through a tough draw unscathed, taking out Indian Wells champion Naomi Osaka, the talented and in-form Belinda Bencic, and rising Russian star Daria Kasatkina. Of the four players remaining in the draw, Kerber has been the most impressive.

But even a player of Kerber's class and consistency will struggle to contain an all-guns-blazing Ostapenko.

Prediction: Jelena Ostapenko to win 2-1. After a shaky start, the Latvian will start to let her shots go in the second set, and once she's dialled in, Kerber will not be able to hang with her.