An extremely surprising, yet interesting, Wimbledon semifinal sees 14th seed Garbine Muguruza, a former finalist at this tournament, take on world number 87 Magdalena Rybarikova, who has won 18 of her 19 matches on grass this year.
The two have met four times previously, with the head to head split at 2-2, though it was Rybarikova who won their last meeting, on grass, in straight sets in Birmingham two years ago; however, a lot has changed for both women since then.
There is no doubt that this a shock semifinal, with Muguruza having struggled since her French Open triumph last year and Rybarikova having never reached the second week of a slam in her 35 previous attempts, though both women have played extremely well to reach the last four at the third Grand Slam tournament of the year.
This will be the first match of the day on Centre Court, with the winner taking on either tenth seed Venus Williams or sixth seed Johanna Konta for the title on Saturday.
Road to the last four
Rybarikova was ranked outside the top 400 back in March and had to use a protected ranking to enter the draw, though that hasn’t stopped her having a great run here. The Slovak eased past Monica Niculescu in her opening round, before she stunned third seed Karolina Pliskova in three sets to reach the third round. Rybarikova backed up that win with a comfortable win over Lesia Tsurenko in the third round, before battling past qualifier Petra Martic in three sets to reach the last eight. In her maiden Grand Slam quarterfinal, Rybarikova eased past 24th seed Coco Vandeweghe to reach the last four, and will be full of confidence coming in.
Despite some recent below-par form, Muguruza has played some great tennis to reach the last four. The Spaniard eased past Ekaterina Alexandrova in her opening round match, and then she then record equally comfortable wins over Yanina Wickmayer and Sorana Cirstea. She faced an extremely tough fourth round match against first seed Angelique Kerber though battled past the German in a high-quality three-set match to reach the last eight. In the quarterfinals she faced a tough match against seventh seed Svetlana Kuznetsova, though impressed to beat the Russian in straight sets to reach her second Wimbledon semifinal in three years.
Arguably the most interesting aspect of this match up is the contrast of styles between the two. Muguruza is an extremely powerful player and will undoubtedly look to win as many points as possible by being aggressive, whilst Rybarikova is very crafty and will look to win points by coming into the net, as well as chasing down every ball and frustrating the 14th seed; it will be interesting to see who can get the match on their own terms.
Muguruza’s success at this tournament has largely been down to the fact she is being more patient with her point build-up, and the fact that she has been serving extremely well. The 14th seed will need to be doing both of these against Rybarikova, who will not give the 2015 Wimbledon finalist too many quick and cheap points; she may be a former finalist here, though she is arguably less comfortable on the surface than her opponent and because of that must be clinical.
One potential disadvantage for Rybarikova is that she won’t be able to match Muguruza’s power, and because of that must use her good movement to stay in rallies and force errors out of the Spaniard. The Slovak should also look to get the 14th seed moving around the court using slices and drop shots, as Muguruza is not the best mover on court, and must look to make very few unforced errors; she has been good at being pretty clean so far.
The clash of styles could potentially make this one of the most exciting matches of the tournament, and it will be interesting to see who is able to take control of the match the most. It seems that with her renewed confidence and more powerful game that Muguruza will make a second SW19 final, though Rybarikova cannot be ruled out at all.
Prediction: Garbine Muguruza in three sets