Angelique Kerber to face Serena Williams in a rematch of the 2016 Wimbledon Finals

LONDON — Thursday’s top-half semifinal was a battle between two former grand slam champions - one, a consistent counterpuncher in Angelique Kerber (VCORE PROTOTYPE / POLYTOUR FIRE 125), and the other, a young, power prodigy in Jelena Ostapenko. 

Ostapenko was the last player in the ladies draw yet to drop a set at The Championships, but Kerber was improving match-by-match after needing a come-from-behind win in the second round against an American qualifier.

In the first four games, Ostapenko fired off 13 of her 30 winners, looking like the player who stormed onto the scene at last year’s Roland Garros. But Kerber, as she has done all tournament, tired out her opponent by running down every shot forcing Ostapenko to hit extra balls.

Kerber took four of the next give games to win the first set 6-3, after committing just two unforced errors. Her steady play continued in the second set, as this semifinal looked like it would be one of the quickest matches of the tournament. At 6-3, 5-1, Kerber earned her first match point, but Ostapenko slapped another winner and eventually broke Kerber to stay in the match.

The 21-year-old Latvian quickly held for 3-5 and would earn another break point in the following game to get back on serve in the second.

“I was just trying to focus on my serve in the last game, trying to hold it because I think that was then the key at the end because you never know what [might] happen [if] I had lost the game for 4-5,” said Kerber.

After saving break point with a service winner, Kerber earned a second match point on her serve. Relying on solely her defense, the German ran down three balls before Ostapenko misfired wide on a forehand to capture a 6-3, 6-3 victory.  

“I’m really proud to be back in the Wimbledon final, especially after last year, where things weren’t like I expected,” she said

Reaching her fourth final has been a long time coming. After a career-best 2016, where she reached three of four grand slam finals, Kerber fell outside the top-20 in 2017. In Melbourne, she reached the semifinals and last month in Paris, she was a quarterfinalist. Saturday, she will play in her first final since the 2016 U.S. Open against a familiar face: 23-time Grand Slam Champion Serena Williams.

“She is always pushing you to the limits to play your best tennis. This is the only chance to beat her,” said Kerber.

The final will be played on Saturday at 9 a.m. EDT.

Follow all of the action here.