We have reached the most sacred occasion in tennis, the Wimbledon finals. Each matchup features a living legend taking on a talented, but somewhat unexpected opponent. All three of my picks for Monday’s matches were wrong. So if you are a fan of any of the finalists, pray I do not pick them. Anyway, here it goes.
(10) Venus Williams vs. (14) Garbiñe Muguruza
Head to Head: Williams leads 3-1
The remarkable story of the older Williams sister is well documented. At age 37, she finds herself in her second Grand Slam final this year. Prior to 2017, it had been eight long injury and illness plagued years since she had played singles on the final day of a major. With only one three setter on her road to the final, she has done a fantastic job of limiting the 15-20 minute error filled patches of play that have gotten her into trouble in recent years.
Williams will have her hands full with Muguruza who finds herself in her third major final, having split her first two trips with Serena Williams. The Spaniard is fast becoming the Stan Wawrinka of the ladies tour. Like Wawrinka, She is a player with immense talent and shot making ability who lollygags around with average results most of the time. But, she does pop up on the biggest stages every now and then. She has blasted her opponents off the court here, including top seed Angelique Kerber in the fourth round. This will be her first final of any kind in more than a year.
This matchup is pretty simple to size up. Both players are on the taller side and would much rather play offense than defense. This will be all about who can get the first big strike and get ahead in the point. Muguruza is always dangerous, but Venus is a five time champion here and more comfortable finishing points at the net. Especially with an opponent that is not her sister, it is hard to imagine her letting a chance like this slipping away. She knows it may be her last.
Prediction: Williams in two close sets
(3) Roger Federer vs. (7) Marin Čilić
Head to Head: Federer leads 6-1
Rodger Federer’s 2017 schedule was set up to allow him to achieve one thing, an eighth Wimbledon title. As nice as the win in Australia had to feel, even Federer himself did not see that coming.
He came into this event with more grass court tune up matches than just about anybody else, and it has shown. Despite playing a handful of tight ones, he has not dropped a set here. Even by his lofty standards, the serve has worked particularly well. He has entered the extremely rarefied air of the 10,000 career ace club. It is fitting that he was able to cross that milestone at his most successful venue. Serve, movement, net play, forehand, mental game, everything is working for Federer at the moment. He would be favorite in the final no matter the opponent.
Speaking of the opponent, it probably is not who Federer expected. Marin Čilić is the benefactor of the upsets of Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal. Even so, the 2015 U.S. Open champion would have caused problems for either of those guys with the way he is playing. Starting with his surprise run to that title, the Croat has added a little more pace to his entire game. The improvement on serve in recent years has allowed him to coast through the early rounds of big events like this.
Čilić has played only one five setter on his way to the final. However, that is still one more than Federer. Like almost everyone else, this is not a good matchup for Čilić. Perhaps he can draw a little bit of confidence from the fact that his only win over the beloved Swiss man came on that fairytale U.S. Open run in 2015. Čilić is playing really well right now and will make Federer work hard. However, there is not a soul on planet Earth who would pick Čilić to defeat Federer in a best of five set match on Centre Court at Wimbledon right now.
Prediction: Federer in four sets
The ladies final will begin Saturday at 9 AM ET on ESPN with the traditional Breakfast at Wimbledon pregame show taking place an hour earlier. The men will follow the same schedule on Sunday.