Donna Vekic
Donna Vekic has reached her first career Grand Slam semifinal. She'll face seventh seed Jasmine Paolini. | @donnavekic
All eyes will be on former champion Elena Rybakina in her quest for a second Wimbledon title while Barbora Krejcikova, Donna Vekic, and Jasmine Paolini each have the opportunity of a lifetime.

Donna Vekic vs. (7) Jasmine Paolini

Croatian Donna Vekic is having the tournament of her life. Only a few years ago she contemplated quitting tennis, and now she’s on the verge of a Wimbledon championship. Oh, how fortunes can turn.

The 28-year-old’s road to the semis included four three-set matches, including a comeback win over tournament surprise Lulu Sun. Vekic has only faced one seeded player, 28th seed Daria Yastremska in the third round. She then defeated Paula Badosa, her most well-known opponent so far as she has taken advantage of a chaotic women’s draw.

Vekic will face a whole new test against red-hot Jasmine Paolini, the seventh seed who will enter the Top 5 in the world rankings at the end of this tournament.

Paolini, also 28 years old, is putting together this Wimbledon run on the heels of reaching the French Open finals where she fell to clay maestro Iga Swiatek.

It’s difficult to excel on both surfaces (just ask Swiatek), but the Italian’s game has translated well. She has faced a notably tougher draw to this point, taking out an in-form Bianca Andreescu, (12) Madison Keys (Paolini was trailing in the third set when Keys was forced to retire), and a very dangerous-looking (19) Emma Navarro.

Paolini leads the tournament in “first serve return points won,” a stat that highlights her counterpunching skills. (Interestingly, Vekic leads the tournament in “second serve return points won.”) Meanwhile, Vekic is winning 80% of her first serve points, so something has to give there.

These two have played three times, with Paolini winning on two occasions.

Expect nerves to play a big role, especially early, and expect Paolini to handle them better due simply to recency bias. This will be the first time Vekic has even stepped onto Centre Court.

Butterflies will be a big factor, and Paolini’s return game will probably unsettle Vekic early. Look for some early service breaks from Paolini.

Vekic will settle and make it competitive, but Paolini will probably move on in straight sets.

Winner: Jasmine Paolini

(31) Barbora Krejcikova vs. (4) Elena Rybakina

Elena Svitolina didn’t blink when she was asked in her quarterfinal post-match press conference where Elena Rybakina’s serve ranked amongst everyone she has played in her career.

“For sure top five,” she said. Especially when she “hits the spots good, it’s extremely difficult.”

Rybakina is the best server in the game, and her serve is clicking this fortnight. She leads the tournament with 31 aces and has only been broken six times. There is no better weapon on grass than a booming, accurate serve.

The Kazakh has had a frustrating season physically. Illness or pain has forced her to withdraw from four tournaments (Dubai, Indian Wells, Rome, and Berlin), leaving gobs of points on the table—especially as defending champ in Indian Wells and Rome, a full 2000 points gone. Poof.

And yet, she remains No. 4 in the world rankings. That’s a testament to her consistency. If she wins this tournament, she’ll move back up to No. 3.

Next up she faces a crafty former Grand Slam champion in Barbora Krejcikova. People often forget that she won the French Open in 2021.

“She’s a great player,” Rybakina said of her Czech opponent, “and I think she has really good hands.”

Fun fact: Krejcikova has won a career Super Slam in doubles. She has won all four majors, Olympic gold, plus the WTA finals, all with partner Katerina Siniakova. So yeah, she has really, really good hands.

Krejcikova bested Jelena Ostapenko in the quarters and Danielle Collins before that, both big hitters. That bodes well for her ability to match up against Rybakina, an opponent she has never lost to, holding a 2-0 lifetime record. They haven’t met in two years, though, and both meetings were on hard courts.

Both players know what it takes to win a major, but give the edge to Rybakina since she has done it here on grass, the polar opposite of clay, and because she has operated in the top tiers of the WTA for the last few years. She’s comfortable in this stratosphere.

Krejcikova, on the other hand, hasn’t been this deep in a major since she won the French three years ago, although she did make it to the quarters in Australia this year.

Ultimately, Rybakina’s serve and deep, heavy groundstrokes will be too much for Krejcikova to overcome.

Winner: Elena Rybakina