Friday, July 14, 2017

Williams and Muguruza in Wimbledon final: Expect thrills

Venus Williams, this generation's original Queen of Grass, is into her second major final of the year. A five-time winner of the Wimbledon singles title, Williams last lifted the Venus Rosewater dish in the summer of 2008, when she was a mere 28 years old. Tomorrow, she a chance to win her sixth Wimbledon championship, and to also put an exclamation point on the results of her inspiring determination to refuse to let her career be ruined by chronic illness.

But Williams has her work cut out for her because, on the other side of the net, awaits 2015 Wimbledon runner-up Garbine Muguruza. Muguruza's appearance in the final is more of a surprise than Williams' is. For as deeply talented as the Spaniard is, she can go way off (a la Kvitova) in a game, a set, a match, or a tournament. Muguruza hasn't been "herself" in a while, though we saw a strong hint of her return at the French Open, where she failed to defend her 2016 title.

Something about the sight of the Wimbledon lawns, however, inspired the world number 15, who--like her opponent--has been virtually flawless in her performance throughout the last two weeks. These two are on fire, and you can expect the final to be five-alarm, because neither of them is going to have a bad day.

There's some interesting backstory about these two. Muguruza lost the 2015 Wimbledon final to Serena Williams, and defeated Serena to win the 2016 French Open. Now here she is again in a major final, and up pops another Williams sister. Another tidbit of trivia: The last time a 37-year woman played in the Wimbledon final, it was Martina Navratilova, who was going for her tenth Wimbledon title. Navratilova was stopped by Conchita Martinez, who just happens to be the Wimbledon coach of--Garbine Muguruza.

Ah, the synchronicity of professional tennis.

The doubles final will also be played tomorrow. 9th seeds Chan Hao-Ching and Monica Niculescu will compete against 2nd seeds Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina. Top seeds Bethanie Mattek-Samds and Lucie Safarova were hoping to achieve a Career Slam at this tournament, but they had to withdraw when Mattek-Sands sustained a dreadful knee injury while playing singles.

Vesnina, by the way, made it to the semifinals of the mixed doubles competition, but she and her partner lost today.

The women's wheelchair singles final will also be played tomorrow. Diede De Groot will play Sabine Ellerbrock for the title.

Playing tomorrow for the girls' singles title will be the unseeded Ann Li and 3rd seed Claire Liu, both from the USA.

Here are the singles finalists' paths to the final:

round 1--def. Ekaterina Alexandrova
round 2--def. Yanina Wickmayer
round 3--def. def. Sorana Cirstea
round of 16--def. Angelique Kerber (1)
quarterfinals--def. Svetlana Kuznetsova (7)
semifinals--def. Magdalena Rybarikova

round 1--def. Elise Mertens
round 2--Wang Qiang
round 3--Naomi Osaka
round of 16--Ana Konjuh (27)
quarterfinals--Jelena Ostapenko (13)
semifinals--def. Johanna Konta (6)

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