LONDON, Great Britain – No.18 seed Julia Goerges has pointed to her greater belief on grass courts as the reason for her upsurge in form on the surface ahead of a third-round meeting with Serena Williams at Wimbledon.
Saturday’s match-up will be a repeat of the semifinal the pair played a year ago, in which the American powered to a 6-2, 6-4 victory.
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Prior to that run, Goerges had lost in the first round of The Championships on five successive occasions and had never been beyond the first week, eroding her belief that she could be thrive at SW19.
Reaching the last four, however, has proven a watershed moment, with Goerges winning through to the final of Manchester in June before two comfortable victories over Elena-Gabriela Ruse and Varvara Fink to begin her Wimbledon 2019 campaign.
However, she has lost all of her four previous meetings with Serena, including three defeats in Grand Slams.
Despite having failed to even pick up a set against the American, Goerges approaches this encounter with fresh confidence garnered from her newfound grass-court success.
“It’s the first time I’ve looked forward coming onto grass!” she admitted. “People always said I should be a very good grass court player but it never showed up on the results, so I was a bit frustrated. Last year changed a lot, and I was really looking forward to coming back here and I think I’ve proved I play well on grass.”
The challenge of facing Serena, however, promises to be a great one, though for the 30-year-old, it makes little difference tackling her now than in the semis.
“If you want to go far, you have to beat anyone you face on the other side of the net,” she reasoned. “Here, it’s happened in the third round but I’m looking forward to it. It’s a great challenge. I’m feeling good, so we’ll see.”
Despite her negative head-to-head record against the seven-time Wimbledon winner, Goerges feels the deficit has not necessarily been a technical one.
“I think I lacked experience,” she said, reflecting on her past defeats to Serena. “I played pretty well, especially here, but in important moments she was the better player. You could see she was the more experienced player on this stage, in Grand Slams.
“I’ll just do the same as I have in the previous matches, focusing on myself. That’s all I can take care of – and she’ll take care of her part!”
Coping with the vagaries of the grass court is something that she believes she has improved on and gives her a better chance against the No.11 seed, who was taken to three sets by Kaja Juvan in round to.
“It was the mental aspect I changed a lot,” she said when asked why her grass-court game has improved. “Sometimes on grass it does go stupid, especially when the ball hits a lines or it just rolls.
“I got frustrated the years before. I’ve got a different approach to the grass court, I started to believe in my game on it – I had won titles on other surfaces but not on grass.
“Overall, with the fitness stuff I’ve done, with how I move, I think I’m a much more complete player and with this approach I’m much more dangerous.”
She is hopeful of displaying just how potent she has become by recording what would arguably be the biggest win of her career on Saturday.