Wimbledon 2023 women’s singles semi-finals preview
Can Elina Svitolina continue her fairy take run by winning her first Wimbledon semi-final?
With two intriguing match-ups today should produce some very tight three-set matches.
Let’s dive into the data and identify what each player has done well to reach the penultimate match at The Championships.
Ons Jabeur vs Arnya Sabalenka
The serve is going to be the centerpiece of this semi-final. Both players are putting up big numbers behind their first serve.
Unreturned 1st Serves (Tournament Average 30%)
• Jabeur = 51% (83/162)
• Sabalenka = 43% (80/164)
First serves are going to be pivotal in this semi. Getting free points behind first serves is an ideal way to take pressure off the rest of your game. When Jabeur hits a first serve, she does not have to hit the next shot just over half of the time. That’s a huge mental and emotional advantage. Interestingly, both women have only lost serve six times each to the semi-finals.
As part of their pre-match training today, having a player or coach serve powerful first serves for 15-30 minutes to them would be ideal preparation. Points will be short, and getting returns in play will be paramount. Sabalenka’s average rally length to the semi is a speedy 2.9 shots. Jabeur is only slightly longer at 3.4 shots.
What’s fascinating to uncover is a potential first-serve problem for Jabeur.
1st Serves In (Tournament Average 63%)
• Jabeur = 50% (162/322)
• Sabalenka = 62% (184/297)
Jabeur is well below the tournament average (63%), only making 50% of her first serves. She only made 38% in her fourth-round victory over Petra Kvitova. This specific match stat will need to be north of 50% in the semi; otherwise, Sabalenka will get to look at a substantial amount of second serves to attack.
When points develop into baseline rallies, Sabalenka leads the entire tournament with points won at the back of the court.
Baseline Points Won (Tournament Average 47%)
• Jabeur = 53% (199/376)
• Sabalenka = 58% (192/331)
Sabalenka has struck 52 forehand winners and 26 backhand winners to the semi-final. The baseline has been her domain. Jabeur must turn the tables here to secure victory. Jabeur has 55 forehand winners and 30 backhand winners so far in the tournament.
Prediction: Sabalenka in three sets. Sabalenka’s 1st serve and forehand will be the difference makers.
Elina Svitolina vs Markets Vondrousova.
Impressive serving numbers have powered Svitolina’s surprising run to the semi-finals. She has struck 28 aces for the tournament, which is third-best for all players. She has only faced 21 break points, while Vondrousova has faced 28. Overall, the serve data is significantly even for both players, with Svitolina holding serve 80% of the time and Vondrousova 79%.
Forehand performance is always a key metric in big matches, and Svitolina holds the edge in this match-up.
• Svitolina = 60 winners / 118 errors = -58
• Vondrousova = 41 winners / 138 errors = -97
• Svitolina = 33 winners / 117 errors = -84
• Vondrousova = 31 winners / 97 errors = -66
It’s important to understand that Vondrousova is a lefty. Svitolina will use her backhand cross-court to extract as many running forehand errors as possible from her Czech opponent. When the point is being constructed through the Deuce court, Svitolina will use her cross-court forehand to extract short balls to attack down the line and get Vondrousova on the run.
Svitolina has shown more urgency to attack first and end the point earlier than her opponent.
Average Rally Length
Svitolina = 4.0 shots
• Vondrousova = 5.4 shots
Prediction: Svitolina in three sets. She will control the flow of points more and extract more errors in baseline exchanges.
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