Wimbledon 2019: Serena Williams into 11th women's final after cruising past Barbora Strycova
The American was utterly irrepressible in this semi-final, 6-1 6-2 win over the world No 54
Yet another storming victory from Serena Williams, yet another Wimbledon final secured. The American was utterly irrepressible in this semi-final, 6-1 6-2 win over world No 54 Barbora Strycova. Her performances have been on an upward trajectory from the beginning of these Championships, and this one, wrapped in just 59 minutes, was the best to date. It places her in fine stead ahead of Saturday’s showdown as she eyes a record-equalling 24 Grand Slam title. Simona Halep, her opponent for that match, will have been watching this masterclass in fear.
The American had ominously declared ahead of this clash that, after repeated injury concerns in recent months, her form was once again nearing its best. And so it showed. From start to finish, this was Williams in her element as she utilised her vast array of talents to overwhelm Strycova.
Despite her best efforts, the variation that the Czech had deployed so successfully in her quarter-final win over Johanna Konta ultimately proved futile. Williams’ display was too complete to fall for the tricks – the short slices, the changes in pace – that had outfoxed Britain’s Konta. The world No 10’s serve was ferocious in its intensity, her volleys were soft and well-placed – a startling contradiction to the raw power she wielded throughout – her baseline strokes were relentless, smothering, her footwork meticulous.
But Williams, making her 37th Grand Slam semi final, was in no rush as proceedings got underway here on Centre Court. She’s been here before, she knows the deal. With a bank of experience to hand, the American patiently set about probing her opponent, looking for those pressure points to poke and jab. A deft dropped shot here, a whipped backhand there, a high bouncing forehand to test the 33-year-old Czech.
Nonetheless, it wasn’t long before the first window of opportunity presented itself. At 2-1, the American had her break: a curled forehand winner that dipped up and over the net, landing beyond the reach of an outstretched Strycova.
A comfortable serve followed, Williams firing down two aces in the process to quickly rattle through the game.
Strycova knew what was coming. Her opponent was improving with each passing point. There was little hope of halting the 11th seed in her tracks.
The second break came shortly afterwards. At 30-15 down in the fifth game, the American showcased her pace from the baseline to meet a short bouncing drop shot with a flicked forehand, the ball landing in the outers reaches of Strycova’s court. From there, she powered over a backhand winner before her opponent, wilting in the face of such quality, netted to relinquish her serve once again.
Strycova rallied in the next game to move to three break points but Williams was in no mood for an upset. Saving all three points, the American served out the first set in 27 minutes with an ace.
The second frame followed in a similar fashion to the first. Williams broke for 3-2, as Strycova dribbled an attempted drop shot into the net, and was at it again minutes later to move 5-2 ahead - the Czech emitting a piercing scream as she sent a simple volley long.
The crowd were willing Strycova to hang in for a little longer and roared their approval when she won the first point as the American served for the match.
But it was a minor inconvenience for the 23-time Grand Slam winner. Williams fired down another crunching serve on match point and had the simplest of forehands to seal a place in what will be her 11th Wimbledon final.