Was anyone predicting this quarter-final to emerge from the bottom half of the women’s draw? On Tuesday afternoon on Court 1, 23rd seed Lucie Safarova will play 22nd seed Ekaterina Makarova for a place in the last four of Wimbledon 2014. Check out the Safarova vs Makarova Head to Head.
Safarova earned her berth in the tournament’s latter stages thanks to a soft draw and steady nerves. She edged Julia Goerges and Polona Hercog in the first and second rounds, then overcame the slumping Dominika Cibulkova for the loss of only six games. In the last 16 on Monday she produced her most dominant performance yet, dismissing 175th ranked qualifier Tereza Smitkova 6-2, 6-0. Safarova has served well throughout her first four matches, winning, on average, over 80% of first serve points.
Makarova’s route to the last eight is arguably more impressive. After overcoming Japan’s top players Kimiko Date-Krumm and Misaki Doi, she beat hot prospect Caroline Garcia and then utterly demolished fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska. While it’s fair to say that Radwanska wasn’t at her clear-thinking, bamboozling best, that is partly because Makarova didn’t allow her to be. The Russian dictated play from the outset, hitting 24 winners to only six unforced errors. She also smothered Radwanska at the net, winning 11 of 13 points there.
There really is all to play for in this quarter-final. Only one ranking spot separates the two women, and their head-to-head record is dead even at one win apiece. Makarova has more big-match experience – she reached the quarters of the US and Australian Opens last year, whereas Safarova has been beyond the last 16 of a Grand Slam only once before (in 2007). Makarova is also one half of one of the world’s most formidable doubles teams. But as we’ve seen elsewhere at this year’s Championships, a better résumé doesn’t automatically confer the advantage.
As both are left handers, neither will hold the upper hand when serving. Safarova employs more topspin on her groundstrokes and is perhaps the slightly better defender, but Makarova’s flat, hard hitting is more suited to the grass. It’s a tough one to call, but we’ll pick Makarova to take it in two close sets.