Women's semifinal previews: Serena vs. Strycova; Halep vs. Svitolina

Women's semifinal previews: Serena vs. Strycova; Halep vs. Svitolina

First-time major semifinalists Svitolina and Strycova will aim to go one step further.

Thursday at Wimbledon features the women's semifinals. Here, previews and picks of the tournament's final four:

Serena Williams vs. Barbora Strycova

Strycova is not the player Serena would have expected to meet in her 12th Wimbledon semifinal; the 33-year-old Czech has never been this far at a major before. She’s also probably not the type of player Serena would have anticipated facing, either. That’s because there really is no one quite like Strycova. She’s not a baseliner or a net rusher; not an attacker or a defender; not a power player or a finesse player. Instead, she’s a fluid, ever-improvising, often-theatrical combination of the all of the above. She’ll win one point with an old-school serve and volley, and the next with a two-handed backhand drop shot. That makes her a tough opponent on grass, and a tough opponent on any surface when she’s on.

Serena will have to be on her toes and ready for anything at any time; so far, when she’s played Strycova, she has been. Williams is 3-0 against her, a record that includes a 6-2, 6-4 win at Wimbledon in 2012. Winner: Williams

Simona Halep vs. Elina Svitolina

Halep says she’s not thinking about the past at Wimbledon this year; that’s probably the right approach when it comes to her past against Svitolina. The Ukrainian has won four of their six meetings, including three straight, all in straight sets, in 2017 and 2018. These two are pretty evenly matched; Halep may be a little more consistent, and a little better defensively, while Svitolina has a little easier time hitting through the court, at least from the forehand side.

In their one previous match at a major, at the 2017 French Open, Halep won, but she had to come back from the dead to do it in three sets. Svitolina might normally be favored on grass, but Halep says she’s feeling more stable—with her feet and her mind—on the slippery surface than she has in the past. Unlike Svitolina, she’s also been to a Grand Slam semifinal before. Winner: Halep