Two years ago Britain’s Jo Konta was practically a tennis nobody.
Ranked a lowly 157th in the world, cursed by a reputation for mentally crumbling when the going got tough, it looked as if it may be prudent to start weighing up her options for a career outside the sport.
Now 26, ranked 6th seed at the All England Club after two phenomenal bounce back seasons, Konta stands just a couple of matches away from Wimbledon immortality.
It’s been a momentous and miraculous rise.
And now, with a healthy breeze of self-belief blowing in her favour, I can envisage Konta winning the title.
Enshrined in her own psychological bubble these days, brimming with a new-found inner strength that helps her commit to big shots at key moments, I don’t see the Australian-born star melting underneath the bright lights on Centre Court.
Coming from behind to beat world number 2 Simone Halep in the last eight showcased how ready she is to make history, and en route to the last four Konta has been involved in a selection of high-standard matches.
Her semi-final opponent, five-time champion Venus Williams, has also been in supreme form at SW19 (and boasts the advantage of colossal big match experience) so reaching the final won’t be a formality.
There’s real steeliness about the American this year.
So it’s a duel that could go either way, but with her serves on point I’d be looking at a 2-1 Konta success, at odds of 16/5.
In other half of the draw you have to fancy former French Open champion Garbine Muguruza to end underdog Magdalena Rybarikova’s stunning run, and reach her second Wimbledon final.
The Spanish-Venezuelan has confessed she has no idea how or why she boasts such a fine record on grass, but her baseline bullying has helped her cruise to the latter stages.
For me, a straight sets win for Muguruza at 49/50 is appealing.
A Konta-Muguruza final would crown a new Ladies Champion, and it promises to be a big-hitting classic.
Forty years on from Virginia Wade’s victory there’s a neat symmetry to the story, so I’ll side with the Brit, who is priced up as 9/4 second favourite behind Muguruza.
No stopping the Fed Express
Roger Federer may not have got much of a sweat on as he dispatched Milos Raonic in straight sets on Wednesday evening, but I guarantee he slept well.
Safe in the knowledge that untimely injuries put paid to Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic’s dreams, a record eighth Wimbledon trophy is now winking at him invitingly from the Centre Court mantle piece.
Heading up a last four that also includes Marin Cilic, Thomas Berdych and Sam Querrey, the Swiss superstar is currently as short as 3/10 to land his second Grand Slam of the season.
He is 10/11 to beat Berdych 3-0 and I’d be grabbing that without a moment’s hesitation.
Who’ll meet him in the final? I’d have to say Cilic is the clear choice.
While US hopeful Querrey served very well against Murray, his all-round game is pretty limited and up against a fully fit opponent that’s won a Slam before, I don’t see how he’ll go further.
Cilic has served stunningly throughout the grass court season, and having overcome a Herculean Gilles Muller in the quarters, his belief and form is strong.
The Croatian is 15/4 to win Wimbledon, but beating Federer on Sunday feels as if it’s a step too far – even though he took him to five sets in last year’s quarters.
With Murray out, British tennis fans are getting all tingly with excitement at the prospect of a Konta-Federer double, and based on what I’ve seen so far, it’s an achievable dream.
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