Serena Williams‘ path to a 24th grand slam title got much clearer after Manic Monday with her two main rivals in the top half of the draw, Petra Kvitova and Ashleigh Barty, departing from the competition. She plays Alison Riske for a spot in the quarter finals with either Johanna Konta or Barbora Strycova awaiting the winner.
Riske has long had a reputation as a grass specialist, picking up many a notable win and more recently – winning the title at ‘s-Hertogenbosch. Her route to the quarter finals has been a very tough one, beating Donna Vekic, Belinda Bencic and now Ashleigh Barty. She came from a set down to defeat the No.1, putting in a stunning performance to win 3-6 6-2 6-3. “I think honestly the biggest key for me has just been to battle from start to finish of every match that I’ve been a part of. Judging by the scoreline, they haven’t all gone perfect.” she said. “I feel like I’ve been there in every moment, looking to impose myself. I’m really most proud about that. I think just being tough has been the key.”
Serena looks to have finally got going, easing through her last two matches. She followed up a dominant performance against Julia Goerges by extending her head to head record over Carla Suarez Navarro to 7-0. The Spaniard had never got close in the past and it was more of the same in Serena’s 6-2 6-2 win. “The is rust definitely wearing off, most of all I feel confident that I can actually move and I don’t have to go for winners so soon because I’m in pain. It’s like, ‘Oh, now I can just play my game, hit shots, not have to worry about anything else.’ It’s good when your mind is clear and you can just play.” she said.
With Serena in a confident mood and now feeling comfortable with her fitness level, she has to be the one to beat. Riske will look to pull off another shock win but she could well be overwhelmed if Serena continues to edge closer to her highest level. “I’m ready for a war. She’s the greatest athlete I think that’s ever been on the women’s side. It’s going to be a huge challenge, but I’m really looking forward to it.” Riske said.
Prediction – Serena Williams in straight sets