From a first top-10 ranking to a Grand Slam quarter-final breakthrough at Wimbledon, it has been a year of important firsts for Julia Goerges. And now the German has amassed another after defeating Kiki Bertens 3-6, 7-5, 6-1 to progress to the maiden major semi-final of her career.
“Well it’s pretty amazing, I don’t know what to say,” said the delighted Goerges immediately after the match. “I just tried to fight for every point. Kiki was playing very, very solid from the very beginning and I just tried to stay calm.”
Earlier, the No.13 seed had spoken of the honour of competing against Bertens, a close friend and her occasional doubles partner on tour. Bertens was equally complimentary to the German, telling the media how much they enjoyed time together off court.
But presented with her most important career opportunity, Goerges was also warming up for a fight. Her first-ever progression this far at a Grand Slam included a 10-8 third set win over Barbora Strycova in the third round that took just under three hours to complete.
Bertens, too, had emerged victorious from some stunning battles this Wimbledon, defeating Venus Williams 6-2, 6-7(5), 8-6 in an enthralling third round before sending off No.7 seed Karolina Pliskova in the next.
Initially, it was the No.20 seed Bertens who seized momentum in the quarter-final, perhaps helped by the fact she’d defeated Goerges in their two career meetings so far. There was little to separate the two women for much of the 38-minute set. Bertens staved off a break point in the seventh game before an audacious forehand drop-shot winner, that sealed the game, showed how much she was prepared to risk. Bertens claimed the critical break in the next game and proceeded to serve out the set.
Then Goerges, ever the aggressor, simply seemed to click. From the earliest stages of the second set, she was pushier, playing progressively faster and often moving readily to the net. When the German sealed an early break with a whipping backhand-down-the-line winner, a frustrated Bertens almost smashed her racket into the court.
Composure restored sufficiently to claw back a break of serve in the seventh game, Bertens also saved two set points as she served at 4-5. But, by now, Goerges was dictating how the match would unfold. As she levelled the match with another break in the 10th game, her winner count for the set read 19 compared to nine.
Goerges seized control. While Bertens won just a single game in the 28-minute third set, Goerges won practically everything, completing victory by winning nine of the last 10 points of the match. While her three aces were relatively meagre for a renowned big server, there were 36 winners overall.
A warm embrace emphasised the feelgood factor between the two first-time Wimbledon quarter-finalists, the German acknowledging that “it’s never easy playing a friend, especially when you know each other so well”.
Still, Goerges looks ahead only positively as she prepares to meet Serena Williams for a chance to contest the first Grand Slam final of her career.
“I’m just very happy about my performance today and looking forward to my next one,” said Goerges. “Obviously it’s a great opportunity to play Serena here at Wimbledon where she has won so many times.”
Goerges is yet to beat Williams in three career meetings, but with her confidence rising noted that, “every match starts from zero, everyone has the same chance to win” – a wise approach, given the many milestones accumulating in the best year of the 29-year-old’s career.
Source: Vivienne Christie|| Wimbledon