Players are meant to be stepping up their game at this stage of the tournament and I think it is fair to say all four of today’s semi-finalists did that.
Ash Barty certainly put in a really good performance, unquestionably her best of the Championships so far against Angie Kerber. The serving was much improved and the aggression and accuracy off the forehand will be something she will be looking to replicate on Saturday. Kerber got off to a slightly slow start and found herself 3-0 and in hindsight, she was always chasing the match due to the quality down the other end of the court. She did lead 5-2 in the second but couldn’t hold on, Barty playing a couple of really good points to break back. When in the tiebreak Barty took a 6/0 lead and despite Kerber digging into save the first three, Barty held strong and the German netted a backhand down the line on the fourth match point. High-quality stuff from both but it’s the number one seed and not the former champion through, 6/3 7/6.
Karolina Pliskova and Aryna Sabalenka was also a pretty good standard. It looked as if Sabalenka was going to continue her run by once again playing the breakpoints she faced really well in the opening set. I think Pliskova might have been zero from eight at this stage. The Belarussian had one breakpoint at 6/5 and capitalised (she saved four in the previous game). Pliskova’s response was to not get broken again in the match and she prevailed 5/7 6/4 6/4. Once again she was very good in the baseline exchanges and the fact she has only dropped serve four times in her six matches here is an impressive stat to have on her side. She will need to bring all this and maybe even more in the final.
Barty is around 2/5 (71%) with the bookmakers as it stands. She also has a 5-2 head to head and has won the last three. It is one all on the surface with Pliskova winning the last encounter five years ago.
Down to the last four in the men’s. I am quite looking forward to these. We are guaranteed a first-time finalist in Berrettini or Hurkacz and Nole v Shapovalov has the potential to be very exciting. Enjoy.
Andy Del Potro (Al Davies).