Wimbledon 2019, women's singles final: Serena Williams vs Simona Halep, Preview and Prediction
Serena Williams has played herself into top form over the course of the last fortnight. When she first took to court for her first-round encounter at the All England Club, she looked rusty and short on match practice.
However, the seven-time champion has gotten better with each match and is now peaking at the right time.
Serena looked every bit a champion in her semifinal against Barbora Strycova, brushing aside the challenge of the crafty Czech by utilizing her serve and powerful groundstrokes to great effect.
The extra time that she spent on court alongside Andy Murray in mixed doubles also seems to have paid off as she has looked at home coming forward and finishing points off at the net.
Yet, she does not enter this contest with Simona Halep as the overwhelming favourite.
The tenacious Romanian is not one to be discounted, even at a time when her opponent is in peak form. Halep will ensure she get balls back time and again; she will force her opponent to play an extra shot every single time, eventually drawing errors from their racquet, and that is exactly the kind of play that frustrates Serena, who is always looking to finish points early.
Another thing that holds Halep in good stead is that her game does not depend on how her opponent is playing. She might have a limited arsenal, but her game is less likely to falter in face of adversity.
Halep will continue to play her shots, drawing errors from her opponent more often than not. That said, Serena will be keen to avoid long exchanges from the baseline.
Halep has also played an uncharacteristically aggressive game at this year's Championships, and much like Serena, she has also peaked at the right time (her semifinal against Ukraine's Elina Svitolina was probably her best match of the tournament).
Halep will have to play a similar attacking game and bring something different to the table if she wants to get the better of Serena.
The final at the All England Club will have a lot at stake for both players. While Serena has the chance to draw level with Margaret Court, Halep is looking to become the first Romanian to lift the Venus Rosewater dish.
Both Serena and Halep are playing incredible tennis and it will all boil down to who can hold their nerve better under pressure and rise to the occasion.
Prediction: Serena Williams in three sets.