The key components of Simona Halep’s 6-4, 6-0 victory over Sabine Lisicki in the ladies’ quarter-finals on Wednesday.
On serve: the focus is normally on Lisicki’s punishing delivery, but Halep was in fact the superior server, winning 80 percent of first serve points to the German’s 56. Despite being the smaller and less-powerful player, Halep also averaged 7mph more on her second serve (83 to 76).
On return: Halep created eight break point opportunities to Lisicki’s two during the match, and converted five. And it was her dismissive treatment of Lisicki’s second delivery that was especially notable – she crushed two cold winners in the penultimate game to further dishearten the German.
Error count: Halep's success is built around great consistency, and today against Lisicki it was no different; in 16 games of tennis she kept her error tally to a tidy 11, while Lisicki sprayed 20 errors, including 11 in the 23-minute second set.
Tactical battle: Lisicki is at her best when she is up on the baseline dictating play with her powerful ground-strokes. But Halep took the German outside of her comfort zone and got her on the run, manoeuvring her about with cleverly-angled and well-placed shots. When Lisicki is stretched, jerked around and forced to retrieve, she is simply not the same player.
Versatility: There’s a reason Halep is considered one of the more intelligent players on tour. She discussed how she was able to change the game when down 4-1 in the opening set by engaging in more rallies and opening up the court with angles. When Lisicki was faced with a deficit of her own in the second set, she had no Plan B.
Summary of Halep’s path to the semi-final
First round – Halep defeated Teliana Pereira (BRA) 6-2, 6-2
Playing in her first ever match on Wimbledon’s famed Centre Court, Halep overcame some stiff early resistance from the Brazilian and won the bulk of the entertaining rallies to reach the second round in one hour and five minutes.
Second round – Halep defeated Lesia Tsurenko (UKR) 6-3, 4-6, 6-3
Halep faced her biggest test of the 2014 Championships in the second round, battling her own erratic form and a game opponent for almost two hours on No.2 Court before finally progressing to the third round; it marked her best ever result at the All England Club
Third round – Halep defeated Belinda Bencic (SUI) 6-4, 6-1
The rising Swiss star proved a tricky opponent in the opening set of their third round match before the more experienced Halep found another gear and raced through the second set in just 24 minutes.
Fourth round – Halep defeated Zarina Diyas (KAZ) 6-3, 6-0
Playing on No.2 Court, Halep posted exemplary stats in her fourth-round victory over the little-known Kazakh, finishing with 17 winners to nine and committing only nine errors to Diyas’ 21 during the 57-minute victory.
Quarter-final – Halep defeated Sabine Lisicki (GER) 6-4, 6-0
Halep, in much the same fashion as her previous two matches, won a tough battle in the first set before steaming to victory in the second. Back on Centre Court and facing the dangerous Lisicki, Halep’s superior court-craft reduced the German to a bundle of errors. Her 57-minute victory sent her into her second straight Grand Slam semi-final.
20:08It brings me no pleasure but it's time to bring the curtain down for another year. Seemed somehow appropriate to leave the last word to Roger Federer. Thanks a billion for reading. What a fortnight, what a final, fast forward to 2015 please...
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