Sixth seed Jo Konta continued her habit of scraping through extremely tight matches yesterday when she defeated second seed Halep in an epic encounter eventually winning 6-7 7-6 6-4. Konta had already created history by becoming the first British woman since Jo Durie in 1984 to reach the Wimbledon quarter-finals and yesterday’s result also created history, as she became the first British woman to reach the Wimbledon semi-finals since Virginia Wade in 1978.
Konta was the outright favourite after Kvitova and Pliskova were knocked out, but 14th seed Muguruza is the new favourite since knocking out top-seed Kerber and she has the easier semi-final on paper against surprise package Rybarikova, who is unseeded and on a fairy tale run since returning from a 6 month knee and wrist injury lay off at the beginning of 2017. The women’s semi-finals take place tomorrow and this will be the fifth time Muguruza and Rybarikova have met, the head-to-head stands at 2-2 and I like the look of Rybarikova’s chances as her wins came on grass at Birmingham in 2015 when she thrashed Muguruza 6-3 6-1 and indoors on a fast carpet surface in 2013 when she won 3-6 6-1 6-3.
If Rybarikova wins she will be the first ever unseeded female player in the open era to reach the Wimbledon final. Britain’s Jo Konta faces the veteran and five times Wimbledon champion Venus Williams (seeded 10 and advised at 16/1) for the sixth time and Konta leads the head-to-head 3-2. All three of Konta’s wins came on hard courts between 2016 and 2017 at the Australian Open, Stanford and this year at Miami and Williams wins have come on a hard court at Wuhan in 2015 and this year at Rome on clay. This looks likely to be another epic battle for Konta and, if she continues to fight and battle like she has done up to now, I see her edging Venus and reaching an historic first Grand Slam final.
The men’s quarter-finals take place today and top seed Murray (1.16) kicks off the action on centre court against American Sam Querrery seeded 24. Murray leads the head-to-head 7-1 and I expect him to progress to the semi-finals however, Querrey is the type of player who can cause him problems, as the defending champion is known to be a slow starter and can easily get frustrated with himself against big hitting aggressive players who put him under pressure from the off. With this in mind I advise opposing Murray from a trading perspective or from a match betting perspective by backing Querrey on the games or sets handicap markets.
Second up on Centre Court is third seed Federer against sixth seed Raonic (Advised 20/1) and Federer leads the head-to-head 9-3, but Raonic won their last two encounters, here at the semi-final stage last year in five sets, and at Brisbane the same year. In terms of form and prices this time round the tables have turned as Federer is in red hot form this year and the firm favourite today while Raonic’s best form has deserted him due to injuries and he will do well to push this to five sets never mind win again. However, we saw what happened to Nadal when he looked at the peak of his powers against another big serving attacking player in Muller so I would not completely write off Raonic today.
First up on Court One is Nadal’s conqueror Muller (seeded 16) against Cilic (7) and this has the potential to be a high quality serve dominated encounter that could easily go the distance. Cilic is marginally the better returner in my opinion and I think this will give him a slight edge and see him through to Friday’s semi-finals. The remaining quarter final on Court One is between second seed Djokovic and 11th seed Berdych and this should be a comfortable victory for the Serb as he leads the head-to-head 25-2 and has won the last 12 matches in a row against the Czech number one.