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The final four

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Originally published on 12/07/17 00:00

tennishead takes a closer look at the two intriguing last four matches.

Garbine Muguruza (ESP) [14] v Magdalena Rybarikova (SVK)

The pair have met four times before and both have won on two occasions. Their only duel on grass – in Birmingham two years ago – was claimed by Rybarikova for the loss of just four games.

Muguruza, who will return to the top five if she lifts the Venus Rosewater Dish on Saturday, is attempting to reach her first final since Roland Garros in 2016. Her struggles this season have been well documented however she appears to back to her formidable best.

The Spaniard was clinical in her quarter-final victory over Svetlana Kuznetsova and her clarity of thought in tight situations was particularly impressive. She is playing with a freedom that has been absent in recent times and her aggressive gamestyle is particularly potent on the manicured lawns in SW19.

This is Rybarikova’s 36th appearance at a Grand Slam and only 11 players have played more majors before reaching a first semi-final. The Slovakian is the fourth lowest ranked player to reach the last four at Wimbledon however she thoroughly merits her spot in the latter stages.

Coco Vandeweghe showed an eagerness to venture forward in her quarter-final showdown with Rybarikova and won 14 of 24 points at the net. It did not prove to be an overly successful tactic for the American, though, and Muguruza, who is always willing to advance into the forecourt, will need to be wary.

Prediction: Muguruza in three

Venus Williams (USA) [10] v Johanna Konta (GBR) [6]

Konta leads the head to head count 3-2, but she has never encountered the five-time champion on grass.

Williams is attempting to become the oldest player to reach the final since Martina Navratilova in 1994. The 37-year-old has conceded just one set en route to the last four and she is the most natural grass-courter left in the competition.

Konta had won just a single match at Wimbledon prior to the start of the latest edition of the championships and she is finally enjoying her stint in SW19. Spurred on by a vociferous home crowd, the 26-year-old is thriving in the spotlight and she showed her mettle to oust Simona Halep at the quarter-final stage.

The No.6 seed is attempting to become the first British female to reach the final at the All England Club since Virginia Wade in 1977. Konta has smacked 28 aces – more than any other player in the tournament – and it’s vital that she maintains a high first-serve percentage against the feisty American.

Both Konta and Williams are most comfortable when playing first-strike tennis. The player who is able to dictate the flow of the rallies, will likely emerge victorious.

Prediction: Konta in three

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