Australia’s Ashleigh Barty returns the ball to United States’ Alison Riske in a women’s singles match during day seven of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London, Monday, July 8, 2019. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)
- No. 1 Ashleigh Barty faces former No. 1 Angelique Kerber in Thursday’s first women’s semifinal at 8:30 am EDT
- The head-to-head between the two is at 2-2, but their last meeting was nearly three years ago
- Barty is the favorite, but Kerber is on a roll. We break down the matchup and make a prediction
Ashleigh Barty first played Wimbledon back in 2012, when she was just 16. It was the year after she won the junior event, and she earned a wild card.
She didn’t come back until 2017, when she was 21 and had returned from a long, self-imposed break from the game. But until this year she’d never gone past the round of 16.
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Is this the year she does what most expected her to do long ago?
Ashleigh Barty vs Angelique Kerber Odds
|] Ashleigh Barty (AUS)||-3.5 (-110)||-225||O 21.5 (-114)|
| Angelique Kerber (GER)||+3.5 (-114)||+180||U 21.5 (-110)|
Odds as of July 7 at DraftKings
Kerber, the 2018 Champion, is Peaking
There is a force standing in Barty’s way of even making her first Wimbledon final – never mind winning it.
Angelique Kerber is playing more like the Kerber of 2018 than the Kerber we had seen for most of 2021.
From the moment she returned to the locker room down 1-5 in the first set to Aliaksandra Sasnovich in the third round, the German has been on a roll.
2021 Wimbledon Odds Tracker
In the previous round, she had barely scraped by clay-loving Spaniard Sara Sorribes Tormo.
Kerber then dropped just eight games in beating young phenom Coco Gauff. And then she dropped just five against Karolina Muchova, an emerging player on grass with a ton of variety.
The matchup against Barty will run along similar lines , with Kerber having to fend off the slice backhand through the match.
Barty Building Through the Fortnight
Barty had injury concerns with both her right arm (a recurring injury) and her left hip coming into the grass season. And she looked less than overwhelming at the beginning of the fortnight.
She also had to deal with extra distractions. Not only was she selected to replace absent defending champion Simona Halep for the traditional Tuesday women’s opener, she had to face sentimental favorite Carla Suárez Navarro.
“I’m in love with this tournament, this court and this crowd.”@CarlaSuarezNava gets a #Wimbledon Centre Court send-off against World No.1 Ash Barty ❤️
— wta (@WTA) June 29, 2021
Suárez Navarro, who has overcome Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, pulled out the second set of their three-set win.
But as the tournament has gone on, Barty has answered her own questions about the body. The set she lost to Suárez Navarro is the only one she’s lost in her first five matches.
Ashleigh Barty vs Angelique Kerber Match History
|2018||Wuhan (R16)||Outdoor Hard||7-5, 6-1||Barty|
|2018||Sydney (F)||Outdoor Hard||6-4, 6-4||Kerber|
|2017||Zhuhai (RR)||Outdoor Hard||6-3, 6-4||Barty|
|2017||Brisbane (R16)||Outdoor Hard||6-3, 2-6, 6-3||Kerber|
Barty-Kerber History is Ancient History
It’s tough to judge much from the four previous meetings between Barty and Kerber, all of which took place on hard courts (and all in China or Australia).
Interestingly, Kerber won both encounters on Barty’s “home turf”.
The grass experience will be different. And Kerber has shown throughout her career that she’s not overly bothered by the low-sliding slice on the grass.
She can get down really low to pick up those balls when she needs to.
The key comparables are the numbers for Kerber on serve return, and the numbers for Barty on serve.
Barty has won a fairly pedestrian 46 percent of points on her second serve. (Pedestrian, given how well she serves). But she has saved 70 percent of the 33 break points she has faced.
Kerber’s success rate on her opponents’ second serves during this tournament is 52.4 percent. And she has broken on 54.3 percent of her opportunities.
Barty is going to have to take better care of her second serve on Thursday.
Ashleigh Barty vs Angelique Kerber Head-to-Head
|25 (April 23, 1996)||Age||33 (Jan. 17, 1988)|
|Ipswich, Australia||Birthplace||Bremen, Germany|
|11||Career WTA Singles Titles||13|
|1||Career Grand Slam Titles||3|
|No. 1 (June 23, 2019)||Career High Ranking||No. 1 (Sept. 11, 2016)|
|No. 1||Current Ranking||No. 28|
|$18,798,304||Career Prize Money||$30.150.203|
|33-6||2021 Won/Loss record||19-10|
|2||Career Head to Head||2|
A Three-Setter, Finally?
The four women’s quarterfinals were all fairly uneventful straight-set affairs.
Hopefully the semifinals will provide some edge-of-your-seat drama. Barty has exhibited some nerves (very internalized) at the business end of big events. But this one will come down to who seizes their moments better. Despite Barty being the favorite, it feels like a dead-even matchup.
Best Bet: Over 2.5 sets (+320)
Stephanie gets the straight dope from the tennis insiders. On court, she has represented her country internationally. A BA in journalism led to years on the MLB beat and a decade covering tennis globally. She’s written for Postmedia, the Guardian, the New York Times and also publishes OpenCourt.ca.