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Wednesday, 14 November, 2018

Jelena Ostapenko could cause Kerber plenty of problems

Serena can have too much for semi-final debutant Goerges

Jelena Ostapenko on the way to overpowering Dominika Cibulkova in the last eight
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BBC1, from 1pm Thursday

Ostapenko v Kerber
Jelena Ostapenko and Angelique Kerber take to a court for the first time competitively in the Wimble­don semi-finals and it will be fascinating to see how last year's French Open champion matches up to the 2016 Australian and US Open heroine.

Kerber is pretty much as solid as they come on grass and that has enabled the German to get past Naomi Osaka, Belinda Bencic and Daria Kasatkina in straight sets in her last three outings.

That fine record alone goes a long way towards explaining why Kerber is favourite to progress to the final, but Ostapenko is potentially a more dangerous opponent than the afore­mentioned trio due principally to her innate power.

The Latvian, 21, hammered Kirsten Flipkens in round two at the All England Club and a couple of rounds later she fought back from a slow start to oust Petra Kvitova's conqueror Aliak­sandra Sasnovich 7-6 6-0.

Dominika Cibulkova, accused by many of not playing fair in her fourth-round clash with Su-Wei Hsieh, failed to handle the extra pressure against Ostapenko in the last eight and went down 7-5 6-4.

But while Cibulkova packs a punch, Kerber is probably a superior performer on the nippy green terrain and she fully deserved her run to the Wimble­don final two years ago.

After a disappointing 2017 in which Kerber did not manage her role of dual Slam heroine as well as she might have done, the 30-year-old Bremen ace is looking to make it a trio of fast-court Grand Slam triumphs.

But Ostapenko, crowned junior champion at Wimbledon in 2014, is likely to trouble Kerber at some point in the match and it would not be a surprise to see the last-four rumble go to a deciding set.

Rather than opt for a three-set recommendation, though, the first two sets could be long so it may be wiser to back the clash to last for more than 20.5 games.

Over 20.5 total games
1pt 8-13 Coral

Goerges v S Williams
Julia Goerges has been showing signs of performing better in her personal series with Serena Williams but it would still be a sizeable surprise were the German to upset the finest female player in the sport's history.

Some observers were a little unimpressed with Williams' display in her 3-6 6-3 6-4 quarter-final victory over Camila Giorgi, but the Italian was in good fettle and many feel that could well have been the title favourite's one bad match of the tournament.

While there is something to be said for the notion that top players have one match which proves a struggle in Grand Slam tourna­ments, in this case that assessment may be a shade harsh on Williams, and Giorgi for that matter.

The seven-time champion, 36, probably ought to be happy that she came through the clash, but it would be wrong to compare the current Williams model with the one who so brilliantly lifted her last Wimbledon singles trophy in 2016.

The former long-time world number one is still very much a work in progress after returning to tennis only in March from having her first child and it would be a surprise if there was no vulnerability somewhere in her game or wellbeing. However, the more testing moments for Williams, should she see off Goerges as expected, could come in the final on Saturday.

The American legend is still far more likely to beat Goerges than lose to the 13th seed, especially con­sider­ing the first-time Slam singles semi-finalist has lost all six sets she has contested against Williams.

In their only previous fast-court meeting Williams won 6-1 7-6 on a Toronto hard court, but that was seven years ago and Goerges, 29, should not be under­rated after sweeping aside grass-lover Donna Vekic 6-3 6-2 in the last 16.

Most bookmakers afford world number 181 Williams, the lowest-ranked player ever to reach the Wimbledon semis, a start of 4.5 games on their handicaps but it may be wiser for punters to take a slightly shorter price and get another game on their side.

Even if Williams fails to dominate throughout, if the match goes to a decider she should boss matters in at least two sets.

S Williams -3.5 games
1pt 4-6 Betway

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Ostapenko, Wimbledon junior champion in 2014, should trouble Kerber at some point and it wouldn't be a surprise to see the clash go to a deciding set
E.W. Terms
Sky bet