The first final to be played at Wimbledon this year is the ladies one where Serena Williams will attempt to level the all-rime Grand Slam record of 24 titles as she takes on Simona Halep on Centre Court on Saturday afternoon.
Halep goes in search of a second major title in what is her first Wimbledon final and if she can keep up for form of the fortnight thus far we are entitled to get a very competitive conclusion to what has been a wonderful women’s event.
It is almost unthinkable that we are approaching 2.5 years since the last time Serena Williams has won a major title, given her quality and the dominance she has had in the women’s game this decade but that is very much the case. She has twice missed the chance to go level with Margaret Court on Grand Slam wins, with the pressure easy for all to see when losing to Naomi Osaka in New York last year, but to be fair to her she has met a couple of classy opponents in good touch.
It is easy to forget that since Serena last won a Grand Slam she has given birth and come back like she hasn’t been away. Arriving at Wimbledon short of matches she has improved with every round of the tournament and if that continues for the final she is entitled to be a very tough nut to crack. Serena will know though that she hasn’t played anyone ranked higher than Julia Goerges who is at number 17 in the world but that is hardly her fault.
I guess full credit must go to Simona Halep for making it into this final. She hasn’t had an easy path into it. She was the player who had to end the run of Coco Gauff in the fourth round of the event and on paper at least her semi-final against Elina Svitolina was the harder of the two semi-finals, but she came through that with plenty in hand and playing the sort of tennis that is worthy of winning a second Grand Slam title.
You get the impression that Halep is going to go into this final thinking she has nothing to lose and will be relaxed and free as a result. The big question is whether she is going to have the weapons to defeat Serena on probably her least effective surface but each ball she gets back is going to ask another question and ultimately that is all she can do overall.
Head to Head
If you are a Simona Halep fan look away now because your player has only won one of 10 previous meetings with Serena Williams. That victory came in 2014 and since then it has been all Williams. If there is a sense of comfort for the Romanian ace it comes in the form of the fact that their last two meetings have gone to a deciding set, both on a hard court and both in Grand Slams so there is a hope of Halep staying close in this final. They have met once on grass, here in the second round in 2011, that match also went three sets before Serena won 6-1 in the third.
Usually when I bet in this final my starting point is it not being a lengthy one. The reason for that is because only one final since 2006 has gone to a deciding set, when Serena Williams beat Agnieszka Radwanska 6-2 in the third in 2012. Since then the game totals in this final have been 17, 15, 20, 21, 18 and 18, all in straight sets, three of them containing Serena.
I get the feeling it is going to be different this time around though. In Simona Halep, Serena faces an opponent who gets that extra ball back and who has a defence which can push the American to the limit. We know Halep is going to give this final her absolute all, whether she believes she is free rolling or not. That makes think that this final is going to buck the recent trend and that this one will have more than 21.5 games in it whether in two close sets or three sets.
Back Over 21.5 games for a 4/10 stake at 1.85 with Betway