It's women's semi-final day at Wimbledon today, and returning to give his thoughts on the two clashes is our tennis columnist, Dan Weston...
"Interestingly, over the last two weeks here at SW19, Strycova has won a higher service and return points percentage, in addition to winning a higher percentage of games and sets arguably against a better quality of opponent"
Strycova rewarded with first Slam semi-final
Tuesday's quarter-final action in the women's event went our way when our suspicion that Jo Konta was extremely over-rated against Barbora Strycova proved correct, bagging us a nice underdog winner. Strycova has helped us turn around the tournament to some degree after an extremely frustrating opening week, and her reward today is her first Grand Slam semi-final against arguably one of the greatest players of all time, Serena Williams.
For this, Williams is [1.26] to get the win and I do make this a little short. Serena's level is still probably just about the best on tour but statistically, she's not close to the stratospheric levels of years gone by. Williams' serve, which is still exceedingly strong - she's held around 83% on grass in the last 24 months - is very difficult for opposition to pressurise consistently, although it's worth noting that Strycova herself isn't far from that percentage on grass during the same time period either.
Strycova with excellent numbers this tournament
Interestingly, over the last two weeks here at SW19, Strycova has won a higher service and return points percentage, in addition to winning a higher percentage of games and sets arguably against a better quality of opponent - I don't think she's here to make up the numbers today, and as she's said to the media, she has weapons to hurt Serena as well.
Coping with the pressure of a first Slam semi-final is always an intangible for a player - this is comfortably the biggest match of Strycova's career - although she has performed well when it mattered in crucial Fed Cup matches as well.
Game handicap makes sense given Serena's serve-orientated dynamic
Given Serena's rather serve-orientated dynamic these days, looking for opportunities to oppose her on the game handicap makes sense. In the run-up to the match, we should be able to get in the low [1.60]s about Strycova +5.5 games - I prefer buying the extra game here to the +4.5 game line, which has the potential to be covered by Serena without a double break in a set.
Halep also looking a little short as favourite
Prior to this, though, is the first semi-final with Simona Halep a [1.45] favourite against Elina Svitolina. Despite Svitolina's issues coming into the tournament, she's acquitted herself well here over the last 10 days, and this is no gimme for Halep.
Across the tournament to get to this stage, Halep does possess better data than Svitolina, but that combined serve/return points won edge of 4% isn't huge, and is similar to the edge Halep also has on 24 month grass data for the duo. With this in mind, market prices do look a little short - Halep is obviously the favourite, but I'd dispute to this extent. I expect a competitive match.
However, today, our focus is on Strycova to test Serena, or at least keep matters close.
Follow Dan on Twitter @TennisRatings and watch all the action from Wimbledon on Betfair Live Video
Back Barbora Strycova +5.5 games at around [1.62]