Serena Williams aced her way into her seventh Wimbledon final and will face Agnieszka Radwanska, a debutante at that stage of a Grand Slam. Will the abundance of Serena’s experience and her intimidating serve prevail or will Agnieszka’s craftiness produce the first Polish Grand Slam champion. Our guest poster Omair will look at the numbers behind their Wimbledon 2012 performance and make a statistical prediction. Enjoy!
Serena Williams will walk onto Centre Court knowing that she is into her seventh Wimbledon final and has gone 4-2 in the prior six, with the losses coming at the hands of Maria Sharapova (2004) and Venus Williams (2008), in fact only three players have been able to beat Serena in her prior 17 major final appearances (Venus – twice, Sharapova, and Samantha Stosur). Serena will no doubt be the favorite and will be highly motivated to win her fifth Venus Rosewater Dish and her first Grand Slam title in two years (her last coming here at Wimbledon in 2010).
Radwanska walks onto Centre Court knowing that she has a shot at the top spot and that she can become the first ever Polish player to win a Grand Slam and join the elite club of 13 players who have won a major at both junior and senior levels.
The pair has met twice, both meetings coming in 2008. Surprisingly, Serena was ranked sixth then as well and both went in favor of Serena in straight sets, one of those wins was in the quarters of Wimbledon.
Let us have a look at the performance of the players so far at Wimbledon 2012.
* I have used the average aces, double faults, winners and unforced errors hit by the player per match.
The stats are clearly in favor of the sixth-seeded American, the four-time Wimbledon champion. Serena has won a whopping 80% of her first serves, while Radwanska has been able to win just 68%. Serena has also won 10% more points on her second serve, compared to her title match opponent. Serena lost just one point on her first serve in the first set of her semifinal match against Victoria Azarenka, one of the best returners on the Tour, and lost a total of four points on serve in that set.
Keeping her unforced errors to the minimum might not help Radwanska this time, she will have to raise the number of her winners as well. Serena has a winners-unforced errors differential of +21, while Radwanska is at only +9. The other day, I was going through an article on Tennis.com and here’s what they said about Radwanska: “The third seed’s skill set is more subtle than an explosive Serena Williams serve or a resounding Victoria Azarenka return. Radwanska doesn’t beat you up; she picks you apart.” It was the perfect description for Radwanska’s game, but I doubt she will have enough to pick Serena apart.
Both Radwanska and Williams were broken once in their semifinal clashes. Radwanska will have to be very consistent and aggressive at the same time. She will have to be very efficient both on her serve and her return. If she loses her serve, she will be gone. She will have to stay strong on her serve and take chances in returning Williams’ serve and not let go of any break points.
The first set will be crucial for both players, especially for Radwanska. Radwanska won’t be happy to know that Williams is 190-4 when winning the first set at a Slam.
Williams has won her last ten matches against Top 5 opponents; her last loss to a Top 5 opponent came at 2011 Eastbourne to then world No.2 Vera Zvonareva. Radwanska, on the other hand, has gone 12-9 against Top 10 opponents in her last 21 matches. Six of those nine losses have come at the hands of Azarenka this year.
Serena Williams is the first 30-year-old finalist at Wimbledon since 1999 (Steffi Graf, runner-up). In the Open Era, a 30-year-old has won a Grand Slam title 12 times (5 times at Wimbledon), a feat accomplished by six different players – Margaret Court (3), Martina Navratilova (3), Chris Evert (2), Billie Jean King (2), Ann Jones (1) and Virginia Wade (1). The last 30-year-old to win a Slam was Navratilova in 1990 Wimbledon.
Every time the Williams sisters play doubles at Wimbledon, one of them wins the singles title. Radwanska is 3-0 in the WTA finals this year, winning titles at Dubai, Miami and Brussels, and in her career Radwanska is 10-2 in finals, and has won her last five final appearances (all since 2011 at Premier-level events). Whose streak will continue?
If Radwanska wins, she will become the third player this year to be ranked at the top spot and have won the major and will be only the second player to be ranked world No.1, without being ranked No.2 before. The first player to do so was none other than Azarenka.
The last time Serena walked into the final of a Grand Slam as favorite, she went down in straight sets to the underdog, Samantha Stosur at 2011 US Open. Will Radwanska be able to play her game and win her first major and the top spot? Only time will tell.
Although I would love to see Radwanska upset Williams and win her first major, I believe Serena has too much fire-power for the Pole.
My pick: Serena Williams in 2 sets.
What’s your take on the situation? Can Radwanska win?
If you would like to read more articles from Omair, visit his page here on Women’s Tennis Blog or go to his new Tennis Stats blog. (photo: sr_cranks)