LONDON, Great Britain - No.11 seed Angelique Kerber will face Serena Williams the Wimbledon final for the second time in three years after unraveling Jelena Ostapenko in straight sets.
Ostapenko, the first Latvian woman to reach Wimbledon semifinals, was also the only player who had yet to drop a set all tournament long. But Kerber stayed steady to see off the big-hitting youngster 6-3, 6-3 in just 67 minutes.
“I was expecting that she is playing like she played from the beginning: really hard, pushing me back,” Kerber said afterwards. “I was trying to stay in my focus and playing every single point because she start really well. Then I was just trying to finding my rhythm and taking my chances when I had it.
“I'm really proud being back in the Wimbledon final after especially last year where things weren't like I was supposed expecting actually.
“Being here again, that was a goal when I start this year, you know, to playing good in the Grand Slams, and to reaching the finals again. It's a great feeling.”
A clash of styles described by WTA Insider Courtney Nguyen as “all-out attack versus relentless defense,” Ostapenko and Kerber were meeting for the first time at any level today on Centre Court. It took Kerber a few games to get used to the heavy Ostapenko pace, but finally broke through at 4-3 with the help of the Latvian’s unforced errors.
Kerber reeled off the last two games to grab the opening set, and then continued her torrid form into the second to start off with a 3-0 lead. Ostapenko, who had struggled against Kerber’s lefty serve all match long, went down another break at 5-1 before she started putting together a comeback effort. She saved a match point to break straight back and recover two games, but Kerber calmly served out the match to book her spot in the Wimbledon final.
Kerber, who is the only player to have reached the second week of every Slam this season with a semifinal at the Australian Open and quarterfinal at Roland Garros, employed her famous consistency to weather everything Ostapenko threw at her, firing 10 winners to seven unforced errors against Ostapenko’s 30 and 34.
Billie Jean King, 12-time Grand Slam champion and WTA founder, told BBC that the key to the match was Ostapenko’s inexperience at this level.
"I thought it was about experience, too many unforced errors from Ostapenko - and Kerber just gets one more ball back. Ostapenko is still really young and plays young.
"Ostapenko has to get her service under control, when she hits it right it's excellent but she has to perfect her serve. Having said that, she's so much fun and one of the great players for the future of the sport."
Back into the Wimbledon final for the second time in her career, Kerber will face off against Serena Williams in a rematch of their 2016 final here.
“[When I see Serena] I see a champion, that's for sure,” Kerber said. “Serena is one of the best players in the world. We had so many great matches in the last years. To seeing her back, it's great.
“I know that she is always pushing you to the limits to play your best tennis. This is the only chance to beat her. I think it is a completely new match [from 2016]. I think we both learned a lot. She's coming back. For me also, I'm coming back from 2017.
“I know that I have to play my best, best tennis to beat her, especially on the grass, on the Centre Court, where she won so many titles here. I'm looking forward to playing against her. I mean, it's always an honor to playing against her.”
Kerber will move up to the No.7 or No.8 ranking by reaching the final (depending on Goerges’ performance) and No.4 should she lift the title.