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Angelique Kerber and Jelena Ostapenko to meet in Wimbledon semi-final: Kerber battles past brave Kasatkina as Ostapenko powers past Cibulkova

  • Angelique Kerber and Jelena Ostapenko will meet in Thursday's Wimbledon semi-finals
  • Kerber battled past Daria Kasatkina, while Ostapenko powered past Dominika Cibulkova in straight sets
Angelique Kerber. (Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images)

Angelique Kerber and Jelena Ostapenko set up a Wimbledon semi-final meeting after both came through their respective quarter finals on Tuesday.

Kerber withstood a brave late resistance from Daria Kasatkina, while Ostapenko recovered from a slow start to power past Dominika Cibulkova in her inimitable style.

Contesting her fourth Wimbledon quarter-final against an opponent who was making her Grand Slam quarter final debut, Kerber capitalized on a nervous start from Kasatkina to race into a 3-0 lead, and she never relinquished the lead despite fits of nerves of her own and brilliance from her opponent as she approached the finish line.

The opening game of the match provided a microcosm of the contest, Kasatkina made a match of it, got close, but let her guard down, almost indefensibly, at critical moments. The Russian had a break point in the opening game of the match, but she squandered it with a loose error off a Kerber second serve. Such loose errors would be her major undoing- she committed 31 unforced errors, including seven double faults. Despite the errors, and the loss, there were large spells of quality from Kasatkina, who hit 33 winners, enchanting Centre Court with some of the shot-making that has made her arguably the most entertaining player to watch in the women’s game. The vicious spin-laden forehand, the audacious jump backhand, and the feathery drop shot all came to the party, but in the end, it was Kerber’s steadiness at the pivotal moments that decided the match.

"I think the whole match was really good," Kerber said after the match. "I think we both played on a really high level, starting from the first point. I think the last game shows how good we played both and how she was fighting until the end.

Kasatkina might have impressed, but this was Kerber’s moment, as she pulled out a 6-3 7-5 victory to move into her third Wimbledon semi-final. Playing fluently and aggressively off both wings, Kerber opened up a 3-0 lead on Kasatkina, but the Russian soon settled, breaking back for 3-4. Undeterred, Kerber got her break back in the next game as Kasatkina’s serving woes continued, sending down an ill-timed double fault on break point. Kerber made no mistake in the next game, closing out the set to 15.

Unlike the opening set, Kasatkina held to open the second set, but she sank into trouble in her next service game, giving up the break after more uncertainty from the service line. To her great credit, the youngster refused to go away, and she was rewarded for her perseverance when she broke back for 3-3, capitalizing on apparent nerves from Kerber, who had been 40-15 up in that game.

Mutual respect between Kerber and Kasatkina after a gripping Wimbledon quarter final clash. (Photo credit should read DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images)
That sparked a run of six straight breaks of serve, with Kerber failing to serve out the match at 5-4. The German earned another opportunity at 6-5, setting up what was quite possibly the game of the tournament. Kasatkina played her most consistent tennis of the match in that final game, saving six match points with some breathtaking stroke-making. One particular rally will linger in the memory, when Kasatkina, seemingly down and out after falling over, stood up to somehow take control of the rally, only for Kerber to finish the point at the net, ushering a deserving resounding round of applause from the hypnotized Centre Court crowd. Despite being under immense pressure, Kerber crucially refused to yield a break point, and she eventually closed out a gripping game, and a fantastic contest on her seventh match point.

"I think these are the matches why we are here and why we are trying to playing our best. I'm happy that I won it at the end in two sets."

Next up for Kerber is a semi-final against Jelena Ostapenko, after the Latvian overpowered Dominika Cibulkova on Court No. 1. 

“I think it's a big challenge, especially about Ostapenko where I never played against her," Kerber offered. "I mean, she won also a Grand Slam. I think it will be really a good match. I think the match starts from zero. I mean, the pressure is not always on my side, since she won a Grand Slam, as well. I think that we are both looking forward to playing the semis."


Cibulkova made the brighter start, making the most of an error-strewn beginning from Ostapenko to open up a 3-1 lead, but once Ostapenko got her eye in, and switched into the winner-milling machine that she can be, Cibulkova had no answers. 

Jelena Ostapenko. (Photo by GLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty Images)
The Slovak was reduced to a mere spectator at times as Ostapenko took her racket out of her hands, bludgeoning 33 winners from all angles, and somehow restricting her error count to ‘just’ 28. Cibulkova, who is not shy of hitting a winner herself, managed just 6! How do you hit a winner when you don’t see the ball? 

The Slovak did very well to keep it close, breaking back for 2-2 immediately after dropping serve in the second set, but the relentless Ostapenko restored her break in the next game, and didn’t give Cibulkova a sniff afterwards, winning the last nine points on serve to seal an impressive 7-5 6-4 victory.

For all the ‘chaos’ and ‘upsets’ in the top half, the half comes down to a meeting between two Grand Slam champions Jelena Ostapenko and Ostapenko- hardly underdogs in the women’s game- in yet another indication of the depth of the field.

It will be a first ever meeting between Ostapenko and Kerber, and what a match that should be!


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Angelique Kerber and Jelena Ostapenko to meet in Wimbledon semi-final: Kerber battles past brave Kasatkina as Ostapenko powers past Cibulkova

Angelique Kerber and Jelena Ostapenko will meet in Thursday's Wimbledon semis after recorded straight-sets quarter final victories.

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