Andy Schooler delivers his verdict on the Wimbledon 2021 ladies’ semi-finals and takes another look at the outright market.
Angelique Kerber to win
Ashleigh Barty v Angelique Kerber
Both players have been in good form, Barty seemingly going up another gear during her comfortable quarter-final win over Ajla Tomljanovic on Tuesday.
Both have won a Grand Slam semi-final before, Kerber here at Wimbledon.
The 2018 champion, who was also runner-up in 2016, has quietly come through her quarter of the draw and has posted straight-sets win over Coco Gauff and Karolina Muchova – two vastly different tests – in the last two rounds.
Barty will be another variation, almost a hybrid of those two beaten foes. The world number one uses the slice very well but also has the ability to switch it up on the power front behind her big first serve – expect plenty of aces from her.
Kerber’s renowned defence will need to be at its best but she’s stood firm in the face of such onslaughts before.
Barty is the right favourite here but the market looks to have over-rated her a tad.
While not convinced she’ll win, quotes of 15/8 about Kerber, who has the better record on the grass, look big and worth chancing.
Final four locked in 🔒
— Wimbledon (@Wimbledon) July 6, 2021
Aryna Sabalenka to win 2-1
Karolina Pliskova v Aryna Sabalenka
As with the other semi-final, these are two players who have raised their level at the All England Club and both arrive at this stage in great form.
Pliskova has lost serve only three times in five matches so far at this tournament and that shot will be key to her chances.
She’s often been labelled a ‘serve-bot’ but her movement was particularly eyecatching during Tuesday’s win over Viktorija Golubic.
Meanwhile, Sabalenka has come through some tough tests.
Her big-hitting game has been known to fall apart under pressure on occasions but she’s played well in the key moments against both Elena Rybakina and Ons Jabeur in the last two rounds.
Maintain that level in this match and she should prevail.
The pair’s two previous meetings have been tight wins for Sabalenka – 7-6 in the final set on the Eastbourne grass in 2018 and then a few weeks later in Cincinnati it was 7-5 in the decider but only after saving two match points.
Given how well both women have been playing, a third set here would be no surprise and I’d suggest there’s a hint of value in Sabalenka winning 2-1 for a third time in this head-to-head.
That’s available to back as a 3/1 shot.
Angelique Kerber to win the title
This looks a tricky puzzle to solve ahead of the semi-finals with Barty favourite at 13/8 ahead of 9/4 shot Sabalenka.
If the Belarusian continues to play as she has, that price will look tasty but this is her first time in the last four of a major – the reason being her go-for-broke game has often thrown up too many errors. It would be no surprise were that to happen again, especially given the added pressure the business end of a tournament like this brings.
I naturally look for value and while a case for Pliskova can be made at 9/2, it’s notable that she holds a losing head-to-head record against both potential final opponents.
Kerber is arguably the best option at 3/1.
In contrast, she leads Sabalenka 1-0 and Pliskova 7-5 across previous meetings.
She’s also got the experience of having won here in the past.
This isn’t the most attractive market but if you are having a bet now, Kerber looks the one to be with.