Wimbledon | Kerber successfully fends off Ostapenko
With the two Ladies’ singles semi-finals scheduled consecutively on Centre Court, there was the possibility that by the end of the day, two Germans could be contesting the title on Saturday for the first time since Cilly Aussem beat Hilde Krahwinkel in the 1931 final.
In the first match the two-time grand slam winner from Germany Angelique Kerber faced up to Latvia’s Jelena Ostapenko, holder of just one major, in what was featured as the clash of the Grand Slam champions.
It's such a great feeling to be back in the finals. Angelique Kerber
Kerber was certainly the more experienced. At 30 years-of-age she has seen a few ups and downs, the most recent slump followed her stint at the top of the rankings after she had won the Australian and US Open titles and reached the Wimbledon final.
This season has seen her regain that form and she has scythed her way through the field dropping just one set to make the last four.
Her defensive play has been a feature of her game as Jelena Ostapenko knew but hoped her more aggressive and direct play would be able to penetrate that defensive wall.
The Latvian’s problem soon became evident over the opening games. While she had the armoury and fire power, she couldn’t set her sights properly, often missing and not always by just a few inches.
In contrast, Kerber maintained her focus and concentration. She held break points in all of the Ostapenko serves in the first set, breaking the 21 year-old in the seventh game to go on a roll of six consecutive games which gave her the set and pushed her into a 3-0 lead in the second.
Ostapenko finally held but it was short lived as Kerber then extended her lead to 5-1 and with 56-minutes on the clock, stepped up to serve for a place in the final.
But Ostapenko, despite facing defeat, showed the sort of grit for which she is now famous. She broke Kerber at her third attempt firing her backhand down the line to great effect. She held for 5-3 and though she saved a match point and forced another break point in the next game, she lost it by netting a poor service return. Two points later the match was over 6-3 6-3.
“It’s such a great feeling to be back in the finals,” Kerber, who is attempting to become the first German champion at SW19 since Steffi Graf in 1996, said after the match. “I’m really excited.”
Now she awaits to see if her compatriot Julia Goerges can get past the seven-time champion Serena Williams to make the final an all-German affair.