WILL EVANS’ daily preview serves up Wimbledon tips as first-time semi-finalist Elina Rybakina takes on former champ Simona Halep.
19:00 (AEST), Thu 7th Jul @ All England Club, Wimbledon
History: Played 3: Halep 2 V Rybakina 1
History: US Open, 2021 (R32): Halep d Rybakina 7-6 4-6 6-3
Final Thoughts: One of the players at the forefront of WTA’s next generation gears up for her first grand slam semi-final against one of the most successful and accomplished players of the modern era.
Elina Rybakina made a breakout run to the French Open quarters last year and has gone one better in just her 12th major appearance. The 17th seed had a very modest grass-court build-up to Wimbledon but has been outstanding at the All England Club.
Rybakina outlasted Coco Vandeweghe, Bianca Andreescu, Qinwen Zheng and Petra Martic in hard-fought straight-sets results. But she overcame her biggest obstacle so far after dropping the first set in the quarter-finals against in-form Australian Ajla Tomljanovic, storming back to win 4-6 6-2 6-3.
Simona Halep, the 16th seed, won Wimbledon in 2019 – her second and most recent grand slam title – and is into the semis of a major for the ninth time.
Emphatically putting an injury-hampered couple of seasons behind her, Halep has been absolutely dominant at Wimbledon and is yet to drop a set. Four of her five wins have come by margins of six-plus games.
The 30-year-old dismantled fourth seed Paula Badosa in the fourth round and was similarly devastating in a 6-2 6-4 quarter-final victory over 20th seed Amanda Anisimova.
The pair’s three-match rivalry has produced some interesting results. Halep retired during the first set of the first clash at Wuhan in 2019, before overcoming Rybakina in the 2020 Dubai Championships final despite losing the first set. They met again in the third round of last year’s US Open, with Halep claiming a 7-6 4-6 6-3 win after a fierce battle.
Both players are on a short turnaround from Wednesday’s quarter-finals – and Rybakina’s was considerably more taxing.
Halep’s serve has been spectacular so far, matching her brilliant return game. Rarely has she looked so confident and infallible. As impressive as Rybakina has been, it would take a significant drop in form for the Romanian to fail to advance to a sixth grand slam final.