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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 23 June 2018

Wimbledon 2017: What to expect from women's semi-finals

Garbine Muguruza faces Magdalena Rybarikova and Venus Williams takes on Johanna Konta in the last four.

Garbine Muguruza will face Magdalena Rybarikova in the first semi-final on Thursday. Toby Melville / Reuters
Garbine Muguruza will face Magdalena Rybarikova in the first semi-final on Thursday. Toby Melville / Reuters

Garbine Muguruza (14) v Magdalena Rybarikova - Centre Court, 4pm start The first semi-final is likely to be a battle of wills fought between one player who claims she is not good on grass, despite having reached the Wimbledon final two years ago, and another who has actually beaten her opponent on the surface before. But when Muguruza is on song, it doesn't matter what surface she plays on, and her aggressive brand of tennis is a lot of fun to watch. She hasn't put a foot wrong at All England this month and will relish the prospect of making up for what has been an underwhelming year since she won the French Open title in 2016. Rybarikova, on the other hand, has little experience at this stage of a major tournament and will be tired following two three-set matches on her way to the last four. But one of those wins came against Karolina Pliskova, who was the top contender for the title. The Slovakian is a solid grass-court player whose game is less about power and more about guile. She also knows what it takes to beat Muguruza, having done it twice, even though their last meeting was more than two years ago. She will likely stretch the Spaniard but in the end, lack of experience and possible fatigue may put her at a disadvantage.

Head-to-head 2-2

Prediction Muguruza wins in three sets

Venus Williams is targeting a sixth singles title at Wimbledon. Tim Ireland / AP Photo
Venus Williams is targeting a sixth singles title at Wimbledon. Tim Ireland / AP Photo

Venus Williams (10) v Johanna Konta (6) - Centre Court, second match Williams and Konta both arrived at All England after enduring great difficulty in recent times. Williams was involved in a motorcar accident that led to the death of an aged man and a resultant court case, while Konta suffered an 11th-hour spinal injury that could have put paid to her Wimbledon hopes this year. But as it turns out both players showed great tenacity to reach the semi-finals. At 37, Williams is a veteran who has won the Wimbledon title five times already and is evidently at home whenever she plays there. Yet even as she will be given the respect she deserves on Centre Court, she is unlikely to receive the kind of support accorded to Konta, who is hoping to become the first British woman to win the trophy since Virginia Wade did in 1977. Konta, 11 years younger to Williams, is an exciting player to watch but also one who has shown maturity, poise and composure worthy of a major champion. She has also beaten Williams three times in five meetings. Yet it has to be seen whether she can withstand sustained pressure from a seasoned campaigner who has less to lose in defeat, while battling the expectations of millions of Britons (not least her own). Here again, experience will likely put Williams in a more favourable position to win.

Head-to-head Williams trails 3-2

Prediction Williams wins in three sets