Thursday’s Wimbledon semifinal between former world No. 1 Angelique Kerber and current No. 1 Ashleigh Barty is expected to be a captivating clash. And the match will likely live up to the hype, in all likelihood to go the distance in a tight contest where both women have a lot on the line. Kerber is seeking her fifth slam final, while Barty will be pushing for her second.
Both players have had a see-saw type of a year, with perhaps the German Kerber coming in worse for wear, with a three-year title draught since her shock win over Serena Williams in the 2018 Wimbledon final. Granted, 2020 was a difficult year for all players due to the pandemic and how it wreaked havoc on the tour. But the 33-year-old German wiped the slate clean with her grass title at Bad Homburg, resurging at just the right time before the start of Wimbledon. At the All England Club, Angie Kerber’s only grown in stature, where she’s moved better than anyone and playing with a confidence that makes her a favorite at the grass slam yet again. She is looking to add a second Wimby title, which would make her a four-time slam champ.
Kerber’s run throughout the Wimbledon fortnight has been nothing but resilient, improving with each match. The veteran among the semifinalists, she’s the only player on the women’s side with a Wimbledon title.
“I remember how I felt I playing here, and I know how to play on grass. Coming here with a title in my bag gives me confidence that grass really is my surface,” said the 25th seed Kerber after her Round of 16 win over Karolína Muchová in straight dominant sets, 6-2, 6-3, according to the WTA.
“It’s a good feeling to have the [Wimbledon] trophy at home. When I was a kid, I really looked forward to playing my best tennis here. Now I’m back after really tough time. I was not playing good the last few months.
“I always believed that I can come back because I know what I can do. Looking back, I always had ups and downs, and always try to come back stronger. I tried to do that again this year. And here I am.”
The 33-year-old Kerber holds the lead in the head-to-head over her semifinal opponent, Ashleigh Barty, including a 2018 win in the final at the Sydney Open. It was that defeat that the 25-year-old Barty credits for helping her retool her game that saw her repay the favor in their R16 matchup in Wuhan that same year, all the way to the Australian collecting her first grand slam trophy at the 2019 French Open.
“I remember that match well,” Barty said, about the loss in Sydney, via Yahoo! Sport. “It was my first final in Australia, in Sydney.
“I remember coming off the court and feeling like my level was close, but it wasn’t good enough. I was close, but there was that extra step that I needed to take to compete with someone of Angie’s caliber in the sense of she doesn’t give you cheapies.
“She competes for every single point. She’s won grand slams. She knows how to hang tough in brutal moments. That was almost a bit of a reset knowing I’m not far off, but I’m not there yet.”
Although Barty’s dealt with an arm injury that forced her to retire her match in Rome and another injury with her hip that resulted in an early exit in Roland Garros, those issues seem to be far behind her. The Queenslander only dropped a set all tournament in her first round at Wimbledon, including her quarterfinal win over compatriot Ajla Tomljanović, 6-1, 6-3.
— Tennis GIFs 🎾🎥 (@tennis_gifs) July 6, 2021
As the world No. 1 and with three titles won this year so far, Ash will be the frontrunner heading into the match with Kerber. Barty won the girl’s title here at Wimbledon in 2011 and if she wins the women’s title, she will only be the fourth woman to achieve the feat in the Open Era. Her game suits the grass. Taking inspiration from friend and mentor, Evonne Goolagong Cawley, who won her first Wimbledon trophy 50 years ago, she’s been wearing a Fila dress as motivation.
“I hope I can make you proud Evonne.”♥️@ashbarty dazzled in her Evonne Goolagong Cawley-inspired outfit, taking out Anna Blinkova in straight sets. She hopes to follow in her countrywoman’s footsteps. #Wimbledonhttps://t.co/yDWpkaxVXM
— TENNIS (@Tennis) July 2, 2021
A win over Kerber would even their head-to-head for the Australian. Both Kerber and Barty have activated their top game just in time to get so close to the finish line. Just a few days after July 4th, their bout is sure to ignite fireworks. Get set for an enthralling semifinal on Thursday.