Match Day Preview: Ladies’ Semi-Finals
After the drama of yesterday – which saw nearly 15,000 tweets in ten minutes during the Murray v Verdasco quarter-final – there’s more on the way in the Ladies’ semi-finals. The line-up might not be what we expected at the opening of The Championships, but with four strong players we’re almost guaranteed two great matches.
France’s Marion Bartoli and Belgium’s Kirsten Flipkens will be first on Centre Court. It’s the first meeting between the two, and the first semi-final appearance for Flipkens in any major tournament. The world No.20 put in a powerful performance against the No.8 seed, Petra Kvitova, on Tuesday, with serves of up to 114MPH helping win her 76% of her first serve points and 50% of her second. She hit two of her keys to the match – the targets set by IBM SlamTracker as being crucial to victory – but most importantly made fewer unforced errors than Kvitova, at 5 to 28. Flipkens plays a tough receiving game as well, winning 38% of her return games against Kvitova.
Bartoli won her own quarter-finals match against Sloane Stephens through consistency and determination. Stephens had the stronger serve, but Bartoli held her own on first serve and won more points on her second. She played the stronger return game, and pushed Stephens into 51 forced errors and 19 unforced errors across the match. Bartoli reached the final in 2007 and has experience on her side, so much depends on whether Flipkens can harness the power of her serve and keep her errors to a minimum. It could be tight.
Once that match concludes, Germany’s Sabine Lisicki and Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska face off for the remaining final place. Lisicki has power on her side. She’s hit 29 aces through the previous four rounds and won 71% of her points on first serve, while her strength and speed allows her to return shots that leave other players floundering. Not only has she won 46% of her return games through the ladies’ singles championships, but she won 45% of her receiving points against Serena Williams, which is 14% more than anyone else could manage.
Radwanska, however, is fast, accurate and agile, mixing shots in a way that disrupts many of her opponents’ play. She has a higher first serve percentage across The Championships than Lisicki, at 72% to 63%, has though she’s won fewer first serve points, at 67%, she has a higher percentage of second serve points at 51% to 48%. What’s more, Radwanska makes fewer mistakes, with 8 to 18 unforced errors across the five previous matches to Lisicki’s 10 to 25. The two have played twice before, with Radwanska winning in the Dubai Duty Free Open in 2012 and Lisicki winning in the Bank of the West Classic in 2011, but they’ve never played before on grass. This should be an interesting encounter.
Whatever the result, we can expect plenty of action on the Twittersphere, with Lisicki and Radwanska fans already taking to Twitter in their droves. “Praying Radwanska can get through her tough semi-final today, but I can’t see past a Lisicki win” tweets lmorgan21, while @Mindscape66 posts that “Sabine is clearly the more powerful hitter but Aga is very quick and mixes up her shots.” “@SabineLisicki is the Cinderella of the tournament. Was rooting for Robson who I am a huge fan of but it’s Lisicki’s year!” says @IthnkandTweet, but @TurnerTantrum feels that “Commentary teams and pundits don’t ever seem to give Radwanska enough credit. She hasn’t got the power to bully her opponents off the court.”
We’ll be back later with a full post-match analysis.
For a deeper dive into the statistics behind both of today’s semi-finals matches, take a look at the IBM Game Changers blog.