Ladies semi finals day is the main attraction on Thursday at Wimbledon 2016, with both of the Williams sisters looking to secure a spot in the final.
We had some more cruel luck go against us on Wednesday after Tomas Berdych blew five match points the day before and this time it was Marin Cilic that was the guilty party.
Leading Roger Federer by two sets to love Cilic had a match point to win the fourth set and the match in three separate games – at 5-4, 6-5 and in the tie break, but he failed on all of them and allowed Federer to fight back and win it in five sets.
Sam Querrey also blew the handicap by one game against Milos Raonic, needing only to take the Canadian to a tie break to make the win highly likely, but he dropped serve at 4-5 instead.
Serena Williams vs Elena Vesnina
It’s looking like we’ll have a repeat of the Australian Open final in the Ladies’ Singles at Wimbledon this year, with Serena Williams a heavy favourite at 1.09 to defeat Vesnina and Angelique Kerber a 1.39 chance to beat Venus Williams.
Serena has met first time major semi finalist Vesnina on four previous occasions and the Russian is yet to take the American past 10 games in any of their eight sets against each other and a Williams win seems the likely outcome here.
Vesnina landed our ‘long shot’ bet against Domi Cibulkova very comfortably indeed in what was her first major quarter final and she did it in some style against what was an emotionally drained Cibulkova, who failed to recover from her epic clash with Aga Radwanska.
But take nothing away from Vesnina, who found a very good level indeed and a repeat of that sort of display could perhaps give Williams something to think about.
I can’t trust Williams at short prices at the business end of majors these days after losses to Kerber, Roberta Vinci, Garbiñe Muguruza, Alize Cornet, and Ana Ivanovic as a sub-1.20 chance in the last couple of years.
Vesnina has won three of her last four matches against top-10 ranked opponents and Williams lost at today’s price to Vinci in a result few saw coming at the US Open, so as much as it’s likely that Williams will win I can’t possibly have her down as a ‘sure thing’.
Williams’ grass court stats are as good as ever this season, but from only five matches, while Vesnina has managed 78.8 percent service holds and 34.3 percent service breaks from her nine matches on grass in 2016.
I’m not sure that stats mean that much today though and it will probably be a case of whether Williams has another of her meltdowns or not and I do like the 5.40 about there being a tie break in this one and/or the 3.10 about Vesnina winning a set.
The nerves get worse the older you get and it seems to be the case that as Williams tries to tie Steffi Graf’s mark of 22 major titles she’s become more and more prone to panic at the vital time.
Who knows how she’ll react on Thursday. She may turn up an win easily in two – but there again she may well not and a big-priced wager looks the one here.
Angelique Kerber vs Venus Williams
I’d be more confident about Kerber making the final than Serena at a much bigger price when she takes on Venus, who is the oldest semi finalist here in the 22 years since Martina Navratilova made the final in 1994.
The American turned 36 a few weeks ago and unless she’s planning on emulating Navratilova – or even Charlotte Cooper Sterry, who won the 1908 title at the age of 37 – this is surely the end of the road for Venus in this year’s Championships.
It’s a first major semi final for Williams the elder since the 2010 US Open when she lost to Kim Clijsters and I’ve seen little from her to make me think she’s likely to beat Kerber, who closed out Simona Halep very nicely in the quarter finals.
Williams was fortunate that Slava Shvedova blinked at the wrong time in the first set tie break (she also led by a break earlier on) in their quarter final, blowing a 5-2 lead to lose it 5-7, and her draw has been very favourable.
Two opponents from outside the top-100 and one ranked 96, plus number 33 and Carla Suarez Navarro is about as kind as it gets on grass and she was almost taken down by Darya Kasatkina, so for me Williams isn’t up to this one.
I doubt Kerber will run away with it though and their grass stats over the last 10 matches each on this surface show very similar service holds of 80.5 percent for Williams and 80.1 percent for Kerber, but it’s the German who breaks more often at 40.7 percent to the 30.1 percent of the American.
On that basis Kerber to break serve first at 1.60 is viable, as is most aces to Williams, whose aces per game ratio on grass is far better than Kerber’s – even in the last year on this surface.
Given their hold/break marks and their head-to-head history the over 17.5 games looks a ‘sure thing’ at 1.23, but I expect Kerber to win this one in two pretty tight sets.
Sure thing: Back over 17.5 games in Kerber/Williams at 1.23
Value bet: Back Kerber to beat Williams 2-0 at 2.0
Long shot: Back tie break played in Williams/Vesnina at 5.40