Can Spaniard Stop”Serena Slam”?

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By: Grant Fisken

Serena Williams is one win away from holding all four grand slam titles for the second time, after she previously achieved it across 2002 and 2003. Her run to the Wimbledon final was fully expected, but her opponent on Saturday certainly was not. Garbine Muguruza beat Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 in the semifinal to reach only her third career WTA final, and her first in a grand slam.

Muguruza is making only her third appearance at SW19, with her two previous visits producing only one win in the singles, a first round victory against Britain’s Anne Keothavong in the first round in 2013. Her grass court form in preparation for Wimbledon did not hint that record was going to greatly improve, as she lost her opening match in Birmingham and in the third round at Eastbourne. However, the number 20 seed seems to have found her feet on grass to become the first Spanish finalist in the women’s singles at Wimbledon since Arantxa Sanchez Vicario in 1996.

The Venezuela-born 21-year-old has knocked out seeds number 10 (Angelique Kerber), five (Caroline Wozniacki), 15 (Timea Bacsinszky) and 13 (Radwanska) en route to the final. If she wants to emulate the last Spanish women’s singles winner at Wimbledon, Conchita Martinez in 1994, she has going to have to raise her game even further to have a chance of lifting the Venus Rosewater Dish. Martinez had to overcome Martina Navratilova to win her title, and Muguruza will need to beat another US legend of the game.

Serena Williams is looking to win her sixth Wimbledon title and her 21st grand slam overall, which would bring her within one of Steffi Graf’s Open era record of 22. She could also become the oldest grand slam winner in the Open era, as she would be 25 days older than Navratilova was when she won at SW19 in 1990. The number one seed has not looked completely invincible in this tournament though. In round three Britain’s Heather Watson was serving for the match against her and she had to come back from a set down in the quarterfinal against Victoria Azarenka, but Williams’ 17th consecutive tour win against Maria Sharapova in the last four is a more ominous sign for Muguruza.

One factor in the Spanish player’s favour is she does have experience of beating Williams in a grand slam. She had a resounding 6-2, 6-2 win in the second round of the 2014 French Open. Their other two tour meetings both came at the Australian Open, with Williams winning both, including in the fourth round this year after Muguruza had taken the opening set. Williams is an overwhelming 1/6 favourite, a very hard price to argue with considering she has won each of her last seven grand slam finals.

Not since the 28th June 2014 has Williams lost a grand slam match (third round at Wimbledon against Alize Cornet). Barring some Muguruza heroics, the second “Serena Slam” is almost complete.