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Marketa Vondrousova v Ons Jabeur
After a Ladies’ Singles tournament that has been high on drama and quality, it all boils down to Czechia’s Marketa Vondrousova and Tunisian Ons Jabeur to battle it out on Centre Court on Saturday at 2pm for the Venus Rosewater Dish.
It is a really surprising final line-up. The big hitters of the WTA Tour in 2023 have been the likes of Iga Swiatek, Aryna Sabalenka, and Elena Rybakina, and they dominated the market ahead of the event. Whilst Ons Jabeur did follow in the second rank of players in the market, one would have had to travel a fair way down the bookies’ prices to find the other finalist.
As a result of being the only grass court grand slam, there is actually very little grass court tennis played by the players. Recently the gap between the French Open and Wimbledon was extended by a week to allow a better chance of preparation and match practice on grass for players. Some have taken to this, others, not so much.
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The Tattooed Czech Aiming To Take The Final Step
Marketa Vondrousova entered the tournament as the world #42, and, incredibly, the Czech #7. This speaks to the strength in depth of Czech tennis and the fact that Vondrousova was still on the comeback trail. Vondrousova had suffered repeatedly with wrist issues and subsequently had three surgeries on her wrist. Her time out of the game meant that she tumbled down the rankings and has had to build her way back up through qualifying and lower-ranking events on tour.
However, her 2023 stats have been superb. Part of this is down to playing those lower-ranked players, but she has been showing good form. Indeed, she was very well-fancied for Roland-Garros, an event in which she was a finalist in 2019, but she disappointed there.
Instead, she has excelled on the grass of Wimbledon. This is despite coming into the event with only four career wins on the green stuff. She has more than doubled this with her six wins in this tournament, during which she has disposed of four seeded players plus ending the inspired run of wildcard Elina Svitolina.
Players have struggled to cope with her variety. Vondrousova does have power, and a good serve, but her real skill lies in the things she can do outside of that. She has all the shots in the book and will happily deploy them. Why she has been so successful in this tournament is that she has used her tools at the right time.
Tunisian Looking To Make History, Again
The reason that this final looks to be so entertaining is that the paragraph above could easily have also been written about Ons Jabeur.
Obviously, Jabeur was also a finalist at Wimbledon last year. The build-up in 2022 all centred around the Tunisian and how she could become the first player from the continent of Africa and the first Arab woman to win a tennis Grand Slam event.
Unfortunately for Jabeur, despite taking the first set last year, she never really hit the heights from a performance level and Elena Rybakina overpowered her. She then reached the US Open final as well, but World #1 Iga Swiatek was just too good in that final.
So, history does still rest on Jabeur’s shoulders. However, there seems to be less focus on that this time around. There is a bit more lightness to her demeanour heading into this final, but we cannot mistake this lightness for a lack of determination. Jabeur’s performances in the quarter-final and semi-final have been nothing short of superb.
To defeat Rybakina in the quarter-finals and then Aryna Sabalenka in the semis, both from a set down, is a true testament to how determined Jabeur is to get her name on the famous dish. She has put her box of tricks away, to an extent, and produced hardened match-play tennis which has ground down her opponents.
The similarities between the players make this an intriguing battle. Both have all the shots and can deploy them at any time, both have history of losing major finals (Vondrousova also lost the Olympic Final in 2021) and the head-to-head between the players is also very finely balanced.
|Aces Per Game||0.04||0.31|
|DFs Per Game||0.45||0.16|
|Combined Hold + Break||103.1%||96.9%|
When these players have met in the recent past, they have been evenly matched. They have met six times in total, winning 3 each, but four meetings have come in the last three years and are more relevant.
These recent meetings have also been shared, but Vondrousova has won both 2023 meetings. These have come in big events as well, one at the Australian Open and the other in Indian Wells. Jabeur’s wins, from 2021 and 2022, came on grass at Eastbourne and on clay, probably both players’ best surface, both of which are also relevant.
The stats shown above from these meetings just emphasise how close the players are matched overall. They have split the number of points won exactly down the middle across those matches. However, there has been a big difference in aces hit and double faults, which can be taken advantage of in the market.
Vondrousova has had the easier run in terms of players faced. Jabeur has become the first player in almost two decades to defeat three top 10 seeds en route to the final, Petra Kvitova in the fourth round adds to the previously discussed Rybakina and Sabalenka.
|Aces Per Game||0.31||0.46|
|DFs Per Game||0.28||0.21|
|Combined Hold + Break||120%||128.5%|
Jabeur’s difficult run makes her superior data all the more impressive. She has won more points on average than Vondrousova, as well as hitting more aces, holding serve much more impressively and winning a greater number of games than Vondrousova. The Czech has impressed on return but will be facing a better server than she has in the tournament so far.
Previous Wimbledon Finals:
The Ladies’ Singles Final went through a long spell of being won in straight sets until the postponement in 2020.
The 2021 and 2022 finals were three-set affairs. Ash Barty won the first set but went the distance over Karolina Pliskova in 2021 and Jabeur will know only too well that winning the first set doesn’t guarantee anything as she became the first player in many years to win the first set but lose the final last year.
Over the last eight finals the average number of games played is only 20.5. There were a large number of one-sided finals in the 2010s, the last two finals saw 31 and 25 games. Interestingly, there is little correlation between winning and aces/double faults. Serena Williams skews the data somewhat from her ace-heavy wins in the mid-2010s. The winner of the finals has held served, on average, 88% of games. This is similar to Ons Jabeur’s tournament average so far.
Ladies’ Singles Wimbledon 2023 Final Tips
Ons Jabeur wins the match and both players win a set – 3.75
Using the research from the head-to-head matches the match could be closer than the match odds suggest. Finals do strange things to players, and it could be a topsy-turvy match, as most of their previous meetings have been.
Ultimately though, Jabeur has been the player in better form in the tournament. She has lost the first set in the last two matches but still won. It feels as though she has the right balance of determination and poise to be able to handle the big occasion and she has the experience of being in the same place last year.
Ons Jabeur to win her first 4 service games of the match to 0 or 15 – 12.0
For more of a speculative wager, we can capitalise on the excellent serving of the Tunisian. If she settles into the match quickly, she can easily get on a roll on serve. She has managed to hold 89% of the time throughout the tournament, and that is against some top players.
The Jabeur serve has been on fire and she will want to use it to apply early pressure to the Czech, running through the opening four games would certainly do that.