Welcome to Sportstar’s live coverage of the women’s singles semifinals at Wimbledon 2022.
This is Nihit Sachdeva taking you through the action as it unfolds on Centre Court at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in London, United Kingdom.
SECOND SET (*denotes server)
Jabeur* 1-1 Maria – First service game for Jabeur in the second set. Maria did well to take it to 40-all but Jabeur just looks so calm today. Wraps up the game by winning two consecutive points.
Jabeur 0-1 Maria* – Maria to serve first in the second set. Can she pull off yet another comeback? She has started decently by conceding just one point, that too because of a double fault.
FIRST SET (*denotes server)
Jabeur* 6-2 Maria – Jabeur to serve for the set. Perfect start – ace down the T. Make that two aces down the T. Sliced backhand return from Maria goes long. Another backhand error from the German and Jabeur takes the opening set.
Jabeur 5-2 Maria* – A crushing forehand down the line winner for Maria to start the service game. How did Maria retrieve one of the most audacious half-volleys from Jabeur! Ridiculous stuff. However, the German follows it up with three unforced errors to gift Jabeur a break point opportunity. The Tunisian gladly accepts the offer and converts it with a forehand down the line. Maria’s return goes off court.
Jabeur* 4-2 Maria – Jabeur is absolutely nailing each and every overhead today. The forehand from the Tunisian finds the line as she goes 30-0 up. Maria puts lots of revs on the slice which gets the ball to land on the right side line. Jabeur is late in sending the return. Forehand winner from Jabeur gives her one game point. Can she convert it? Yes, she can. A beautiful cross court backhand winner to seal the game.
Jabeur 3-2 Maria* – Brilliant court coverage from Jabeur. She anticipates the volley from Maria and rushes in to retrieve before killing the point with an overhead on the follow up to go 30-15 up. Jabeur’s forehand is causing problems for the Tunisian as another one goes bang into the net. For once, the forehand does work! Jabeur finds the corner with her forehand from the net to make it deuce again. Two forehand unforced errors from both players and it is 40-all yet again. Maria serves out wide to convert her fourth game point chance.
Jabeur* 3-1 Maria – Jabeur to serve to consolidate the break. Well, well. Two forehand errors from the Tunisian and all of a sudden, Maria is 30-0 up. Wide serve from Jabeur to draw a heavy return from the German. A sensational running forehand drop shot from Jabeur kisses the top of the net before falling on the opposite side. Bold decision from Maria to let Jabeur’s lob go and it does go wide. Jabeur consolidates the break.
Jabeur 2-1 Maria* – Strong first serve from Maria down the T and Jabeur barely gets her racquet on it. At 15-30, Jabeur does manage to return and then sets up the overhead winner with a brilliant lob. Error on the slice from Maria and Jabeur breaks.
Jabeur* 1-1 Maria – One too many slice shots from Maria costs her – Jabeur up 15-0. Two forehand winners for the Tunisian give her three game points. Two forehand errors wipe two of those three game point chances. Jabeur holds as Maria’s slice hits the top of the net.
Jabeur 0-1 Maria* – Maria serves first and wins the opening point courtesy of an unforced error on the forehand from Jabeur. And there you go! A drop shot return winner from Jabeur on the second point of the match itself. Maria does well to bring Jabeur forward with the drop shot but mishits the passing forehand – 30-all. Break point for the Tunisian as Maria’s slice hits the net. The German world no. 103 wins the battle of the slices at 40-all. However, Jabeur pulls thing back to deuce as Maria, who was at the net, had to reach out to retrieve the Tunisian’s forehand but she could not send it over the net. Unbelievable slice shots from both players but it is the world no. 3 who draws the error from her opponent. Maria saves another break point with a perfect wide serve. Two unforced errors on the forehand from Jabeur and Maria holds serve after eight minutes.
6:06PM: Warm-up is done. Game time!!!
6:02PM: TOSS – Tatjana Maria wins the toss and chooses to serve.
6PM: The Centre Court welcomes the two first-time semifinalists with a huge round of applause.
5:45PM: Jabeur vs Maria head-to-head: Jabeur leads 2-1
5:40PM: How Jabeur and Maria have reached the semifinal:-
|1st||beat Mirjam Bjorklund (SWE) 6-1, 6-3||beat Astra Sharma (AUS) 4-6, 6-3, 6-4|
|2nd||beat Katarzyna Kawa (POL) 6-4, 6-0||beat Sorana Cirstea (ROM) 6-3, 1-6, 7-5|
|3rd||beat Diane Parry (FRA) 6-2, 6-3||beat Maria Sakkari (GRE) 6-3, 7-5|
|4th||beat Elise Mertens (BEL) 7-6 (9), 6-4||beat Jelena Ostapenko (LAT) 5-7, 7-5, 7-5|
|Quarterfinal||beat Marie Bouzkova (CZE) 3-6, 6-1, 6-1||beat Juel Niemeier (GER) 4-6, 6-2, 7-5|
5:30PM: It’s time for the business end of this year’s Wimbledon. First up on Centre Court today is the first women’s singles semifinal between Tunisian world number two Ons Jabeur and German world number 103 Tatjana Maria which will be followed by the second semifinal between 2019 champion Simona Halep of Romania and Kazakh world number 23 Elena Rybakina.
Ons Jabeur vs Tatjana Maria
When barbecue buddies Ons Jabeur and Tatjana Maria step on to Centre Court for their Wimbledon semi-final on Thursday, the loyalties of an eight-year-old German girl who will be sitting in the players’ box will be severely tested.
Mum-of-two Maria’s run to the last four has been the feel-good story of these championships, with the 103rd-ranked German finally making the grade at the 49th attempt.
But considering she will be facing an opponent her eldest daughter Charlotte calls “Aunt Ons”, there will be a friendly celebration at the end no matter who emerges victorious and earns the right to face either 2019 champion Simona Halep or Kazakhstan’s Elena Rybakina in Saturday’s final.
“I was joking with Charlotte, I was telling her ‘Are you going to support me or your mom?’ I’m trying to turn all the kids to my side,” joked Tunisia’s Jabeur, the first Arab to reach a Grand Slam singles semi-final.
World number two Jabeur will be the overwhelming favourite to win the showdown against her friend whose best showing at a major was a solitary third-round run at the All England Club in 2015. Of her previous 48 attempts, she did not even progress past qualifying 14 times.
But the one thing going in the 34-year-old’s favour is that she knows she has the weapons to topple Jabeur, having beaten the third seed in their only meeting on the main tour.
“I always believed that I have something inside… that I can do this. But to be now here in this spot…,” said Maria, who has had to juggle nappy changing duties with her on-court commitments.
“I mean one year ago I gave birth to my second daughter. If somebody would tell me one year later you are in a semi-final of Wimbledon, that’s crazy.
“(I want to) show everybody that I’m still here and I’m a fighter, and I keep going and I keep dreaming. That’s what I want to show my kids.”
Jabeur is also determined to inspire the next generation with her ground-breaking run as she targets becoming the first Arab and first woman from Africa to win a major.
She was spurred on by former Moroccan player Hicham Arazi to finally break through the quarter-final barrier at the slams.
“Hicham…. told me Arabs always lose in the quarter-finals and we are sick of it. Please break this,” Jabeur said with a laugh.
After her win over Czech Marie Bouzkova, she received a follow-up text from Arazi.
“He was like ‘thank you for finally making the semi-final. Now you can really go and get the title.”
Simona Halep vs Elena Rybakina
The only one in the last-four mix who knows what it is like to hold aloft the oversized Venus Rosewater Dish is Halep.
The Romanian was not even considered a title contender this time round as she has slipped down the rankings to 18th after a torn calf muscle wrecked her 2021 season and even prevented her from showing up at Wimbledon 12 months ago.
That no-show meant she also missed out on opening the second day’s play on Centre Court, an honour usually reserved for the defending women’s champion.
Hence she knows that the only way she can earn that privilege again is “by winning again”.
As the only contender who has yet to drop a set at these championships, the twice Grand Slam champion is now looking like the woman to beat and Rybakina will have her work cut out if she is to defeat Halep for the first time in a completed match.
In three previous meetings, the world number 23’s only success was when Halep retired injured.
“I feel ready to go. I feel good physically. Mentally as well. Yeah, I feel ready for tomorrow,” Halep said.
Big-hitter Rybakina, who would have been excluded from this year’s Wimbledon had she not switched allegiance from Russia four years ago, has so far fired down a tournament-leading 44 aces and will be hoping that she has enough firepower to wear down Halep.
“I just know that I have to play till the end because she’s great fighter,” said Rybakina, who will be bidding to become the first Kazakhstan player to reach a major final.